People in the audience watching an animated scene will not be able to understand the events on the screen unless there is a planned sequence of actions that leads them clearly from one activity to the next. They must be prepared for the next movement and expect it before it actually occurs. This is achieved by preceding each major action with a specific move that anticipates for the audience what is about to happen. This anticipa-

ack with icipation ill make

Anticipation Action Animation

tion can be as small as a change of expression or as big as the broadest physical action. Before a man runs, he crouches low, gathering himself like a spring, or, the reverse, he draws back in the opposite direction, raising his shoulders and one leg, as he aims himself at the place of the next activity. Before Mickey reaches to grab an object, he first raises his arms as he stares at the article, broadcasting the fact that he is going to do something with that particular object.

This is the oldest device of the theater, for without it. the audience becomes nervous and restless and whispers, "What's he doing?" The anticipatory moves may not show why he is doing something, but there is no question about what he is doing—or what he is going to do next. Expecting that, the audience can now enjoy the way it is done.

The opposite of this is the "surprise gag." which only works when the audience is expecting one thing to happen, and suddenly, without warning, something entirely different happens. The surprise gag cannot work if a different action has not been anticipated by the audience. Similarly, no action on the stage can be anything but a series of meaningless surprises without anticipation.

The movements in early animation were abrupt and unexpected; too often the audience was not properly alerted and missed a gag when it came. This was one of the first things Walt started to correct. He called his remedy "aiming" and acted out just how an action or gesture could be made clear so that everyone would see it. If Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is to put his hand in his pocket to get a sandwich for lunch, the whole body must relate to that hand and to the pocket. When the hand is aimed, it must be "out in the clear" so everyone can see it and anticipate what is going to happen.

Anticipation Action Animation

Walt relation as Oswald the sand-. No one led to see action.

Drawinging Oswald Made Walt Disney

Walt relation as Oswald the sand-. No one led to see action.

The head cannot be looking off somewhere else—the important action is Oswald's reaching into his pocket. It is not a gag, it is not a laugh, but it must be seen. No one should need to ask, "Now where did he ever get that sandwich?" As Walt demonstrated how it should be done, he exaggerated the action and made it far more interesting than the animator was ever able to capture. As Les Clark said years later, "Today it may look simple to us; at the time it wasn't. It was something that hadn't been tried before or proved."

Few movements in real life occur without some kind of anticipation. It seems to be the natural way for creatures to move, and without it there would be little power in any action. To the golfer, it is the backswing; to the baseball pitcher, it is his windup. The batter prepares himself with a whole series of anticipatory actions, but the one that gives the clout is the final twist and the step forward as the ball approaches the plate. Without that move the mightiest swing is no more than a bunt.


"Staging" is the most general of the principles because it covers so many areas and goes back so far in the theater. Its meaning, however, is very precise: it is the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear. An action is staged so that it is understood, a personality so that it is recognizable, an expression so that it can be seen, a mood so that it will affect the audience. Each is communicating to the fullest extent with the viewers when it is properly staged.

The most important consideration is always the "story point." It has been decided, for example, that a certain piece of business will advance the story; now, how should it be staged? Is it funnier in a long shot where everything can be seen or in a close-up featuring the personality? Is it better in a master shot with the camera moving in, or a series of short cuts to different objects? Each scene will have to fit the plan, and every frame of the film must help to make this point of the story.

If a "spooky" feeling is desired, the scene is filled with the symbols of a spooky situation. An old house, wind howling, leaves or papers rustling through the

Clear staging keeps Minnie feminine even in broad reactions. There is no attempt at realism, but considerable caricature of the attitudes.
Staging Animation Images

animator: Art Babbitt —The Country Cousin.

Only do one thing at a time: one of the most important rules of the theater. The country mouse, tipsy from fancy food and drink, is standing on a slice of roast and tries to act non-chalant. He flips his umbrella in the air, places it in position before leaning on it, and even holds the position briefly before the umbrella breaks through the toast.

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