Saturday, April 03, 2010

Direction 4: Accents: Staggered Accents with variations


Part of a director's job is to draw attention to the important parts of the story and actions. He does this with every tool at his disposal: staging, acting, timing, color, music and animation accents.

All animators and directors use accents. Today, we have a kind of formula you see for almost every action. The characters anticipate every action, overshoot it and then settle into the final pose. That's only one of an infinite ways to accent something and I think we lean on that formula too much. It gets monotonous and predictable. Robotic. When every action gets the same treatment, none of them stand out as anything unique or important.

Accents come in many varieties and intensities. They are partly functional and many old-time directors tried to make them invisible-just enough to point to the pose. Clampett liked all his tools to be part of the entertainment. It was not enough to be merely functional. He really liked accents. This scene has some variations on one type of accent-a big stagger and settle.

That thing that looks like a dollar bill is going to magically turn Hook the sailor into a civilian. The animator (McKimson) could have done it all in one quick motion and still made the story point, but Clampett instead chose to break it up into a bunch of individual parts and make it fun to watch.

Strip the Man With Magic
First, the war bond sweeps his wand across Hook and strips him.
The accent here is mostly the special effect radiating from the wand.
Add Socks
Then he starts zapping individual parts of Hook: first, his feet. When the wand hits the naked feet, they expand really big to draw attention to the fact that they now have socks on. Then the feet stagger back to a held pose.

Hook's head also does a take that shoots up and arcs over to the other side and looks down at his toes to add to what happened so we notice it with him.

The wand follows the action by putting shoes on top of the socks.
Hook does an even bigger take.

The stagger takes a variation, when the bond zaps pants onto Hook. This time the stagger is vertical, rather than horizontal.

These drawings are fantastic, aren't they? My Heaven.McKimson's solid drawings really help make the exaggerated action believable. They give weight and power to the crazy actions. It makes it look "on purpose" rather than just sloppy accidental animation.

Boob Job: Biggest Accent in Scene (of course)
The main gag in the scene is that the War Bond accidentally gives Hook some breasts. So, of course this action has the biggest accent.
It also has more than one direction to the action. First, the breasts shoot out and up,
then they bounce in and out until they come to a stop.

Boob Job Reduction
To contrast with the previous wild action, this action is smaller and different. There is no accent for the breasts reducing. Instead the wand waves back and forth as the breasts shrink. All this variety keeps the scene alive and spontaneous, rather than being a series of repetitive actions that are all the same kind and size.

Zoot Suit
By this time, the audience is feeling the flow of what is happening, so Clampett can pack more actions together faster.
When you watch the clip, listen to the music that accompanies the actions and you will feel the rhythm of each transformation.
He gives a big accent to zapping the suit jacket on Hook, then follows with quick successive shorter accents

these are quicker actions

Hat Brim
Each of these actions is -similar enough to each other to give order to the scene...and..

Different enough to feel natural or organic instead of repetitive
and each action fits in its own part of the overall hierarchy of the scene. Not each action is equally important and gets the same amount of attention.

Hat Top

Clampett tops off the scene with a favorite WB timing finish. After a bunch of fairly quick and large actions, there is a pause to make us think the scene is over, and then the scene is topped by a tiny action at the end-PING! This gives us a feeling of closure. Clampett leaves us satisfied.
All these accents and actions are tightly choreogreaphed to not only tell us what is happening, but to give us sensory pleasure. It's visual music, rather than mere information.

Watch the clip and see how it all flows together as one coherent and rhythmic little number.


Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Five