The Principles of Animation – Staging

Posted at Oct 29th, 2012 by AnimDesk.

12 Principles of Animation - Staging

Animation Staging covers many areas and assumed as a general principle, which goes back far in the theater. It's purpose, however is clear: its the presentation of an idea that is clear to the viewer and has no mistake of what it is shown. Action is staged so it can be understood by the audience, so is the personality which can be recognized by an individual, or a mood that can affect the person watching. Each of these communicating to the fullest with the audience when is executed properly on the stage.

One must decide on the most important story point. In example, how a certain action advances the story. How will it be shown (staged)? Showing the personality of an character in a long shot where the audience can see everything? Maybe the need to add a camera movement with the character, or maybe short cuts in a scene? Every scene and even every frame in the film will have to help make the point of the story.

If a 'Scary' moment is planned for a scene, the scene will have to be filled with elements to emphasis the mood, for example, 'skeletons', old hunted house, blowing wind, lit candles, broken window, gray sky, full moon, old tree with no leafs, moving shadows, everything that could indicate 'Scary' mood. No one will want to add an happy items to the scene that wouldn't make the point of the story, such as presents, cakes, flowers and so on.

Stating an action must ensure that only one action is seen on the scene; It must not be overlapped with a different staged action. The drawings of each staged scene must show the idea in the simplest but most powerful way before going to the next action. You don't want to make drawings that doesn't fit or just look nice.

It is like saying "Look at this, now check this, and finally this" sort of underlying message to the audience, making sure that camera and focus is on the right position when targeting the character and its action on the scene. You wouldn't want to do it in along shot where the character is barely seen or its effect on the scene is meaningless.

Example would be a performer who performs an act in front of an audience. It will be much easier for the audience to engage in his act and watch the things he does in more details (clothes, hands, face expressions, unusual movements) or even be mislead according to the performer's own act in order to make the action more believable. The empathized value of a close-up shot help eliminate many details from the audience which helps make the act more realistic.

Felix The Cat Animation Staging

Animators back than had to deal with a lot of problems in this area. Characters were in black and white and no shades of gray were used to soften contrast or form. Animated characters such as Mickey Mouse, Felix the cat and many other back than has black arms, legs and part of body filled with black. It wasn't easy to create an action since they all looked like a silhouette when the hands or legs were in front of the body. (they were seems as disappeared). Many actions seems hard to animate with those limitations when the action could no look believable to the story.

Charley Chaplin once said that if an actor knew how to portray his emotions, he could also do them in a silhouette. This seems like a limitation that had to be worked on that would eventually look believable to the audience who is watching.

Walt Disney stated in his days not once: 'Work in silhouette, such that every action could be seen even if there is an overlap". Animators were constantly experimenting, exploring and redrawing the action over and over to get the natural and realistic silhouette frame.

Minnie Mouse Disney Staging Animation