Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 180 Rule and Ways Around it

Way back in August when I wrote about the 180 degree rule I was amazed at the reaction I got. I figured that it was such a boring, technical subject that no one would care! But I was wrong, it generated a lot of discussion.

Here's the original post, if you missed it, or want to review.

Anyway, here's the other part of that subject: if you absolutely have to break the 180 rule, here are a few ways to smooth over the transition and make it so that it doesn't confuse or jar the audience.

To review in brief: if you take these two shots of a character running from two different sides of the "line of action" and cut them together, it can confuse the audience and they may think that your character either turned around and started running the other way or that you're cutting between two different characters who are running towards each other (or away from each other).

So if you absolutely have to use these two shots, how are you supposed to bridge the transition between them? There are a few common ways:

Firstly, you could place a neutral shot inbetween the two different shots. A neutral shot is one in which the character is heading either straight towards the camera or straight away from the camera, without any kind of left-to-right or right-to-left type orientation.

Or, if you have two shots you need to connect where the screen direction is different, you could always have a shot inbetween where the character changes the direction he's running all in one shot - in this example, the camera tracks him as he makes a u-turn, turning around and running back the way he came.

So then, all together, you'd have this:

Yet another way to do it is to cut to a wide shot on the change of screen direction. This helps smooth out the change of screen direction because the character is so small on the screen that, visually, the change of screen direction is less jarring. Also when you cut wide the audience can see more landmarks and more environment which helps the audience to orient themselves and can minimize their confusion about the change in screen direction.

One other option that can help smooth out the change of screen direction is a match cut. When you cut from the character going one way to the character going the other way, keep them in the same place on the screen. This will help the audience's eye connect them as the same character, even though the screen direction has changed.

See how the character is in the same place (red arrow) in both the first and second shot? That's a match cut.

All of these are techniques that live-action movies use to edit together shots that have differing directions of screen direction. In live action, where it's common to shoot the same scene from different angles and then connect them together in the editing room, these techniques can really come in handy.

However, they aren't really that common or useful in animation. In the animation world, we are creating every environment from scratch and we plan out all of our cuts and camera moves in the storyboard and layout stage, so really there's no reason to end up with shots of different screen direction that need to be bridged together.

But in any case this topic seemed like a popular one before so I thought I would finish it up with the other side of the coin! Let me know if all of this confusing or if it all makes sense.

Happy Holidays!

A Christmas card by Bill Peet

I haven't been as active as a blogger in 2009 as I would have liked, but the last year has been extremely busy for me. I am sure I will be writing a lot more posts in the new year so I look forward to that! The reason I have been so busy is that the movie I have been working on for five (yes, five) years has been taking up a lot of my nights and weekends and it's finally nearing completion (at least my part of it). That movie will be released in 2010 which is one reason I so eagerly await the new year. The other way I've been spending a lot of my time (rather than blogging) is working on a children's book that I've written and illustrated (and I will be spending a lot of time in 2010 trying to get it published).

Anyway, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a good 2010. There will be more posts next year I promise!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Couple More Handout Pages

I've written quite a few handouts over the years about basic storyboarding stuff like composition, using values and simple layout tricks. Here are a couple more pages, full of the kind of basics that seem too obvious and simple to bother with but that can make the difference between a drawing that works and one that doesn't. I sure wish someone would have told me this stuff when I was at CalArts, anyway, it would've saved me years of crummy drawings...

This last page is from Andrew Loomis's "Creative Illustration" and they're about how different kind of shapes give different kinds of different emotional feelings. They can be really useful when boarding to help give your drawings the right kind of feeling for whatever type of scene you're boarding.

New Book on Disney Animation

For anyone that missed this, there was a new book published this week on Disney Animation, full of drawings from Classic Disney features.

Amazon has it for $31.50 here.

The book also contains a small sampling of art form the new Disney 2D feature "The Princess and the Frog". Speaking of "The Princess and the Frog", go see it this weekend. It's full of great animation and it'll help prove that audiences will still pay to see a 2D feature.