Friday, September 11, 2015

Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation || pp. 44-99

Dream Worlds:  Production Design for Animation

SUMMARY of pp. 44-99

This section of the book focused primarily on composition, camera angles, and film jargon.  Example artworks were shown from four Disney films: Aladdin, Lion King, Brother Bear, and Hercules.  Visual Development and Research was discussed.


- Visual Development:  Explores all the different ways to translate a story & story ideas into visuals; early in production.  Includes development of a style for the film (including characters, color, composition, and editing).  Research (architecture, history, landscape, costume, and props) and concept art done exploring various styles.  Film language is developed.  The style and mood will determine the colors, camera angles, and cutting of the film.  Everything narrowed down and all loose ends addressed.

-  Research:  Gathering references and knowledge, a foundation for the style of the movie.  Take research trips on location OR rely on books, television documentaries, movies and the internet.  "...go back to school[,] learn how things look, and learn how to draw them" (p. 47).  More thorough research = less work/problems later.

Aladdin Visual Development

-  EXAMPLE:  Aladdin - Emphasis placed on coming up with a look that is fresh and new.  References were from Orientalist French artists (especially Jacques Majorette and Jean Lean Gerome) from the turn of the 19th century who emphasized the Middle East in designs.  The palace garden was designed around Persian miniature art.  Style was a mixture of Orientalist paintings and cartoony.  Richard van der Wende was the production designer on the film and a talented background painter who did key master backgrounds himself.

-  The Creative Process:  1) Come up with a look no one has done before.  2) Research - Having a library of movies and books on animation can help.  Watch and explore movies, documentaries, comic books, art books in various styles.  "Refreshes the batteries!" (p. 58)  Gather variety of styles and ideas; extensive examples listed on pp. 58-59.  3)  Movie artists aren't supposed to have a style (unless you are hired for it), instead they find and develop a look for each production that is completely unique from anything else in existence.

- Camera Rules:  In animation, layout artists plan the use of the camera (breakdowns, different shots, perspectives, number of characters, locations, floor plans, direction of light, props, effects...etc.).  The storyboard just tells the story, it doesn't give angles or interesting compositions.  The production designer helps with the best choice of camera angle.  Dialogue scenes need to be carefully planned and have interesting, but not confusing, cutting.  Often floor plans are devised to help with the position for the camera, movement, and light direction.

-  Jump Cut:  "shots are allowed along a 180 degree invisible line connecting the characters - the crossing of this line is called a jump cut" (p. 64).  (Example image shown.)

The Lion King Visual Development

- EXAMPLE:  The Lion King - Unique to this film was the development of stunning visual effects (lens flare, out of focus to the extreme...etc.).

- Composition:  in film, "the harmonious combination of shapes and movement within a field..." (p. 72).  Good composition includes order, rhythm and balance.  Avoid boring or uninteresting compositions.  "Lead the eye to the center of your stage where the action takes place" (p. 75).  Unlike a painting, in film, the images are shown fast and have to be precise in the arrangement (nothing is accidental, every choice made has a specific reason), leading the eyes of the audience.  "A good film consists of well-planned composition of very differently staged shots..." (p. 78).  Key compositional moments come from the script, mood, action (including current, previous and to come).  Avoid color at first, use greyscale to simplify composition (4-5 values).  Lines must be treated carefully, as to not distract but enhance the design and composition.  Doing comp. studies based on live action movies are helpful (see pp. 84-85).  Triangle rule helps with dynamic character placement.  Err on the side of simplicity when designing.

A good story is the

most important thing,

but it has to be set

in a believable world.

- Hans Bacher (p. 72)

Brother Bear Visual Development

- EXAMPLE:  Brother Bear - Collected compositional ideas to help visualize the script.

- Camera Movements:  Pans - typically horizontal movements (left to right is most common, right to left can add drama).  Truck in/truck out - diagonal moves.  Vertical - follows objects into the sky.  Circular - rare.  Pans vary for different film formats: in normal format, pans start when the character moves; in widescreen, the character has room to move halfway through the picture before the pan starts.

Hercules Visual Development

- EXAMPLE:  Hercules - Developed copious designs in a short amount of time.

- Staging: the placement of characters within a set.  Employ rhythm in compositions.  Vary speed and style of cutting between sequences to avoid too much of a good thing.  Save special ideas for the climax, don't give it all away at the beginning.

- Projection Method - a way to visualize a scene in three dimensions (see p. 94).

- Trick on how to keep perspective on close ups (p. 96): use a character in the distance and project lines out from the vanishing point to the size of the foregrounded character.

Camera Lens Sizes - the smaller the lens millimeter size, the wider the picture.
20mm-35mm - Wide Angle
50mm - Normal
150mm+ - Telephoto
(Examples of each on p. 97)

- Formats:  Various formats present different challenges when composing a shot (examples on p. 99).
3:4 - Normal
1:1.85 - Widescreen
1:2 - Cinemascope
1:2.35 - Panavision

Animation is not the art

of of drawings that move,

but the art of movements

that are drawn.

- Norman McLaren (p. 78)

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