Staging Animation

Disney Figure Drawing

staging in an early ey by Ub Iwerks. thing is out in the where it can be seen; ng is confused or tan-up in lines or shapes.

Fred Moore Disney

1st: Fred Moore.

staging in an early ey by Ub Iwerks. thing is out in the where it can be seen; ng is confused or tan-up in lines or shapes.

Staging Animation

1st: Fred Moore.

\ar staging with the atti-e shown in silhouette. A id test of the clarity of drawing is to shade it yard, clouds floating across the moon, threatening sky, maybe bare branches rattling or scraping against a window, or a shadow moving back and forth—all of these say "spooks." A bright flower bed would be out of place.

If you are staging an action, you must be sure that only one action is seen; it must not be confused by drapery or by a poor choice of angle or upstaged by something else that might be going on. You do not make drawings just because they are cute or look funny. You make the drawings that will stage each idea in the strongest and the simplest way before going on to the next action. You are saying in effect, "Look at this—now look at this—and now this." You make sure the camera is the right distance from the character to show what he is doing. If he is kicking, you do not have the camera in close on a waist shot. If you are displaying your character's expression, you do not do it in a long shot where the figure is lost in the background.

Magicians say they prefer to work close to the people they are fooling because it is so much easier to direct attention to any desired spot. When an individual works alone on a big stage it is too easy for the audience to watch his feet, what is behind him, his clothes, any unnatural movement; the spectators might be looking at everything except what the magician is trying to show them. As a director, Dave Hand emphasized the value of the close-up shot: "By its use we are able to eliminate from the mind of the audience anything that is less important than the particular point we are putting over at the time."

The animators had a special problem of their own. The characters were black and white, with no shades of gray to soften the contrast or delineate a form. Mickey's body was black, his arms and his hands—all black. There was no way to stage an action except in silhouette. How else could there be any clarity? A hand in front of the chest would simply disappear; black shoulders lifted against the black part of the head would negate a shrug, and the big, black ears kept getting tangled up with the rest of the action just when other drawing problems seemed to be solved.

Actually, this limitation was more helpful than we realized: we learned that it is always better to show the action in silhouette. Chaplin maintained that if an actor knew his emotion thoroughly, he could show it in silhouette. Walt was more direct: "Work in silhouette so that everything can be seen clearly. Don't have a hand come over a face so that you can't see what's happening. Put it away from the face and make it clear." Constant redrawing, planning, and experimenting were required to make the action look natural and realistic while keeping a clear silhouette image. We had to find a pose that read with both definition and appeal.

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