Sunday, October 14, 2007

More "Jungle Book" Artwork (and more on pacing)

Some more of the great artwork included on the new version of "The Jungle Book", this time from the Visual Development category.
















I meant to add to my last post about editing in animated film a bit about texture as it relates to editing. As we all know, contrast is at the heart of any artistic discipline: if you want to make a color look really bright, you place it against dull colors; if you want a passage of music to feel really fast, you put it after a passage of music that is very slow, and if you want to animate a really strong "stretch" you put it after a very strong "squash".

So obviously the same thing applies to editing film: to make a section of a film feel frenetic, exciting and fast-paced you need to also have areas of your film that move slower and more restfully. A film that is all fast paced rapidly cut action will dull the senses of the audience until nothing has any meaning.

Anyone that has seen a movie can tell you that the emotion of a film is what you remember about a film and what moves you to fall in love with a film. And everybody also knows that the emotion of a film only comes across in the quiet moments between characters where everything else falls away into the background. Rarely do Michael Bay movies have quiet moments and rarely do those movies have any emotional connection with the audience (nor are they meant to).

As a funny side note, it's interesting that trailers for mainstream movies don't really sell themselves by showing the quiet emotional moments. They show all the fun stuff in the trailers because that's what we all go to see. If they showed the heavy emotional moments we would think "Ugh, that movie is going to be a big downer. My life is depressing enough, no thanks, I'll pass".

So they show the fun stuff to trick us into going to see the thing. When "Toy Story 2" came out all the ads showed all the fun stuff: Woody finds some new pals! A crazy fun cowgirl sidekick! A goofy horse that loves to run around and play! A kindly old prospector toy who's never been out of his box! And another deluded Buzz Lightyear! All of your pals back for more fun!!!! Sign me up!

And then you get to the theater and, yes, TS2 delivered all that fun stuff and more. But what parts of the film do you really remember? What parts of the film really left an impression on you? Jesse's song where she explained how she had been left behind by the girl she loved. Woody's struggle between a future left behind by the boy he loves and a bid for loveless immortality behind glass.

Anyway, that's just a side note, as I said...my real point is that editing is as much about contrast as any other art. Any good film uses contrast to create rhythm and texture as well as to create a meaning to the audience. A film that is all slow going tries the patience of the viewer until it lulls them into a dreary hypnosis. A film that is all fast action feels relentless and wears out the audience until they feel nothing. Just as any painting needs empty, blank areas for the eye to rest so does the "canvas" of a film.

Fear is as much a part of filmaking as any other art, although there is so much money on the line in the movie business that maybe the fear is amplified even more. Fear can make people do things that seem inexplicable. I've seen many, many people who have a huge fear of boring the audience (to be honest I've mostly seen it in executives, the people who are most aware of how much money is being spent along the way). This is, actually, a healthy fear to have but it leads people into thinking that the film has to keep moving at a fast clip lest anyone get the slightest bit disinterested. People seem to forget that a slow, emotional scene can be just as compelling as a fast one (and usually they are much more compelling). So this is another reason that sometimes at the eleventh hour of production on a film people will sit down with the editor and trim wherever there seems to be a little "fat". Out of a fear of boring the audience (I've never ever seen someone with a fear of moving too quickly and leaving the audience confused or unsatisfied, but that would make for a good balance).

7 comments:

Matt J said...

Those concept images are fabulous-I really must pick up a copy of the DVD when it's released in Europe.

I happened to watch 2 films relevant to your topic this weekend-TRANSFORMERS & Chaplin's Great Dictator.
I always give Michael Bay the benefit of the doubt & watch his movies because he is one of Hollywood's premier visual stylists & I pray he can match that to decent storytelling sometime! But I'm always let down & Transformers is no exception-the action scenes are so fast that it's hard to see what's happening & the 'slower' scenes aren't affecting because you don't care for the characters one bit. There's almost no plot & the story doesn't make sense-it's a disaster!
The key to what makes Chaplin's films so memorable is EMOTION. His 'action'-his pratfalls & slapstick is masterfully timed but also contrasted with scenes of great emotion & clarity such as the speech at the end of the Great Dictator or 'The Kid' crying & pleading when he's taken away.
Spielberg is probably one of the best examples of a modern director whose films work on an emotional AND entertaining action level but then he's the man who sanctioned the choice of Bay for the directing gig on TRANSFORMERS!!

Juan Pablo said...

I work in comics as opposed to animation, and editing it's tough because a 46-page, european-standard album is equivalent to about 15 minutes of film.

I had to break down the comic I'm working now in 2 albums. Which was a tough decision, because we all know there's nothing like a satisfying unitary story.

But when I tried "cutting out the fat" and cram the story in just one album, I realised I'd lose all the meaningful moments between the characters, and the pace would be crazy anyway. It would be unitary, the story would be told, but it wouldn't be satisfying -- emotionally!

Every story has its ideal lenght. I believe you can do most stories comfortably in 90-120 minutes of film. For most films, any more than that is pushing it, the audience will get physically tired.

Floyd Norman said...

Concerning pacing, a big gripe I have with current film production is bringing editorial into the process way too early. This never happened in the "old days" because directors usually controlled their films - - not editors. All to often they're cutting the damn film before we've even made it.

Now, don't get me wrong, because I love and respect film editors, and worked with the best of them. However, animation is a different animal. It's not live-action. Too many editors edit animated films as if they were editing live-action. Since I've done both, I know it's not the same. I still love using the bar sheets where you think of film pretty much like a music score. That's where I first begin thinking about pacing in a film I'm doing.

Finally, never think about money while making a movie. True, they cost way too much, but worrying about the cash will only get in your way creatively.

flashcartoons said...

such great artwork

pappy d said...

Cool post! Bill Tytla used to say if you understand stretch & squash, everything else is implied.

If you understand contrast, even stretch & squash is implied. Folks tend to forget that you need affinity to contrast with the contrast.

floyd: I haven't seen a bar sheet since college. Is it downloadable somewhere?

I heard that even 'board artists working digitally are forbidden from timing their sequences on the computer. Is this true? Is it a union-jurisdictional thing?

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