Saturday, December 27, 2008

Disney Principles 6 - Staging -1 - Clarity

This establishing shot of Mickey lets us know what is happening in the whole scene. All the elements of the scene are carefully arranged so we can see each important point in one shot.

Main point: They are playing pin the tail on the donkey (Pluto).
2nd point: Mickey is blindbolding a clone. This is the focus of the scene. Everything else is framed around this acton.
3rd point: More clones are watching. They are grouped together and set away from Mickey and clone 1. That space between them makes it easy for us to see what Mickey is doing and helps to frame the action.

The pin the tail on Pluto poster is big and not hidden by the action so we can see it easily.

Composing the elements to focus on the main point:
The shadow of the tree helps to frame Mickey and make it even clearer that what he is doing is the focus of the idea in the shot.

Having this many things to set up in one shot could easily be mishandled. The extra Mickey clones could all be in separate poses, to close to the focus and the image would be cluttered and hard to see what is going on.

Like this mess of clutter:

Obvious clear staging show exactly what Daisy is doing and is artistic and appealing at the same time.

Staging the Scene Itself - Purpose:
To make things clear and understandable to the audience

The Story Point Most Important

Carl Barks was a story board artist/writer at Disney's. Storyboarding is the first step in staging the cartoons. You figure out how to present each idea of the story in sequence and decide how best to present it to the audience. You are telling the story first logically, by choosing the framing and angle of each idea so that the audience can easily follow along. You can get artistic with it too, but clarity is the most important function of telling a story.

Geting more artistic with the staging is usually the layout artist's job. The basic clarity of the storytelling and gags is the storyboard artist's, but these duties can overlap.

This idea of staging things logically had disappeared from the animation world when I started working. Each studio in the had storyboard and layout manuals that told you to stage things at random, for no reason.

They would tell you crazy things like: Vary the shots to keep things interesting. Mix long shots in with close ups and medium shots.

They would tell you to start shows on a down shot to establish the room and let the audience know where every lamp, pen holder, desk blotter and bald patch on the top of someone's head were in the room in relation to each other. I wish I could find a Dic Storyboard Manual. Anyone have one?

More on staging to come...