Monday, August 15, 2011

Disney Staging

The best of Disney's animators knew how to stage their characters in a way that made them easy to read on the screen. That way their personality statements were uncluttered and to the point.
Every line put on paper supports a main thought, and the rhythm of the drawing leads your eyes toward the area you are supposed to look at.
This is not an easy thing to achieve. An animator needs to boil things down to a clear essence, because the audience only has a split second to see and understand what's going on.

I traced these classic Disney moments off from xeroxes of the originals. In most cases the characters were animated on different levels, I combined them here for the final composition.
This stuff leaves me in awe. I know that some animators like Frank Thomas and Eric Larson worked hard to achieve this simplicity, while others like Milt Kahl and Marc Davis did it intuitively.
Each drawing is accompanied by an overlay that shows the flow toward the focused area.

The first example from "Pinocchio" even had two animators who worked out the staging issues. Stromboli was animated by Tytla, Pinoke by Frank Thomas.
Combined they form a powerful composition, the main focus is Stromboli's right hand grabbing Pinocchio. The characters connect very strongly. That firm grip 
showes Stromboli's physical strength, and Pinocchio's vulnerability.

Milt Kahl did all three characters in this scene from "Song of the South".
They relate sooo simply, clear personality and attitude in each of them.
Your eyes end up at the rabbit.

Frank Thomas animated Merlin and Mim. Props like Merlin's hat and his magic wand help point to his nose being grabbed by Mim. That's the business of the scene and all lines support the idea.
Here again opposing attitudes make up for an entertaining statement.

Robin and Maid Marian were done By Milt, their hands/paws connect in such a simple and elegant way. Even the feather on Robin's hat is curved and points toward Maid Marian. This looks so simple, but it really is quite sophisticated.

Milt again, drawing Penny and Medusa. 
It is absolutely clear who is the forthcoming character, and who is reacting.
Medusa is as usual overpowering, and here even her lips help the visual connection with Penny.

I don't know about you, but I find studying this stuff fascinating.