I decided to study how other Animation films approached the lighting and camera angles of their movies to inspire myself and my group for our animation short film, “Fitting in”. Although we’re not shooting a live action scene, the way we story tell through our camera can make or break what we’re trying to say.
I looked at some beautiful stills from an animated movie called Mr. Peabody and Sherman for cinematic inspiration.
Concept art from Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)
I thought the lighting of this attic scene would help us understand better the lighting effects of our skylight in our scene. This concept art made me think about whether we want a warm toned attic or a cool toned one. Both are stunning visually but convey very different messages.
This dark blue/green piece evokes emotion. I think we could use a similar colour in our animation lighting to evoke a similar reaction in our audience (especially during the heartbreaking moment when our main character doesn’t fit in the box).
I was really inspired by the dynamic camera angles achieved in this concept art. Being almost at ground level creates a sense of scale and the foreshadowing of something dramatic to come. This is a possible shot we could do in our Animation “Fitting In” to emphasise the scale of the bouncer or create a feeling of the cube being an outsider in the long line of cylinders.
I feel like the lighting of our animation will play a key part in our storytelling process since our characters can’t physically speak or use their arms.
We can emphasise the emotions of our characters through our lighting colour choices:
Yellow/golden light: Used mainly at the beginning and shining mainly on our main character to emphasise their sense of joy and hope at getting into the box. This not only conveys our main character’s positive emotions but lights them well so they are the main focal point for our audience.
Red lighting: Could be used to shine out of the box to light a scene that involves tension such as when our main character meets the huge, intimidating bouncer. OR, we could use this colour of lighting to emphasise the change in mood from a sense of joy to confusion about not being able to physically get into the box when they try.
Blue lighting: This lighting colour would be perfect to shine on our main character as they realise the impossibility of them physically fitting into the box. When our little wooden cuboid peg starts to walk away slowly from the box we could have a blue light coming out of the box to shine on him; creating a sad ambience.
One of the easiest things to do, in our animatic, is to place too much emphasis on too many characters at once. This makes things much more difficult for the audience to pick up on where we want them to look during a shot/scene. If we make sure that whatever shot we are doing, there’s not too much going on all at once and the audience’s eye is drawn to one action at a time. It makes shot transitions much smoother and the story flow better overall. If you distract the viewer from the main action, they miss out on the key storytelling moments.
Due to the fact we have such a short amount of time to tell a story in our animation, we need to make the most of our camera angles and shots. There is no time for unnecessary shots of things that don’t really matter or drive the story forward. As a group, we spent a lot of time creating detailed side characters such as small wooden cylinder characters and our bouncer. This was good as it made us understand more fully, as animators, the environment the main character is surrounding themselves with. However, we then found ourselves creating too many camera shots revolving around them, rather than our main character. This gave us less time to tell the main story we were trying to tell.
In terms of shots, we need to focus our attention on the main character and make sure our cinematography always leads back to focusing on him; capturing his main emotions/key movements.
Another thing we need to make sure we don’t do is cut shots too quickly. Looking at our original animatic, we tried to do too many shots and cut them far too quickly; it was impossible for the audience to pick up what was actually happening.
We could use the lighting of our box to change scenes in a interesting way and make a cut much more fluid looking. e.g. one of the lights from the box could move and flash brightly into the camera lens and then we transition the scene to the next one as the light moves on.
Our characters won’t be talking so sound effects are a huge part of making our animation film come to life. We are planning on finding sounds online for the closing of our attic door and dance music for conveying the story of the toy shapes being at a club. We thought about recording our own sounds but felt like that didn’t match the feeling of our animation.