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Lights, Camera, Animation!

18 Jun Lights, Camera, Animation!

When we watch animation or movies, we only see the finished or end product. What we often fail to recognize is that behind every movie is the tedious and arduous job of production.

That’s where animators or artists like you usually enter. That’s basically what you signed up for. Your skills are more needed during pre-production, production, and post-production work. We know you are itching to start working with your animation project – readying those character designs, 3D models and backgrounds. We won’t stop you as you plunge into the mad, mad world of animation production!

Camera Movements in Animation

Animation follows several steps. It begins by making the layouts of the animation. Characters in action are in the Characters Animation Layout; backgrounds in Background Layout; and camera movement and the field of vision in the Field Layout. Woah, wait. Camera movement? But there are no cameras in animation! Well, that’s what YOU think. An animation is still a visual medium. You tell your story by showing images to your audience. Each image is composed by an imaginary camera – a camera that you use when you start animating your scenes. And just like a real movie – the distance, angles, and movement of these imaginary cameras make effective story-telling.

The long shot reveals information – establishing your central character and the environment s/he’s in. But because things are far away from the audience when in long shot, the characters are not fully able to make emotional connection with them. The full shot (from head to feet), on the other hand, gives less information about the character’s surroundings than a long shot, but more details about the character’s personal appearance are revealed – making more emotional connection with the character. Meanwhile, a medium shot (from head to middle torso) moves closer to the character. The audience focuses on the character and is able to see most of his/her facial expressions. In the close-up shot, all the audience can see is the head and the upper body of the character. More information about the character is revealed here, as s/he is within conversational distance. Extreme close shot forces the audience to put their attention on the image on screen. All they can see in this shot is the object of the shot. You can also use depth of field to manipulate what the audience focuses on by putting a sharp subject against a blurry background.

The most common camera set-up is the omniscient observer. The camera is positioned and angled as if it were another character in the scene or the story. But you can adjust camera angle to create specific moods and emotions. At a high angle, the camera looks down at the characters – making them seem weak or unimportant. The camera is placed at a low angle when the audience looks up at the characters – subjects look larger, stronger, and in extreme cases, very threatening.

So when considering camera angles during animation production, remember: keep them simple. The camera movements help tell the story, so it’s important that you think about your angles very carefully.

Become an Animator in New Zealand

Are all these information making sense to you? Do you feel that urge to start practicing your drawing and camera angles to create an animation project of your own? Do you want to know more about animation? Then it only means one thing: animation is in your blood.

One of the best places in the world that cultivate the art of animation in this digital age is New Zealand. Unless you have been living under a rock, you’d know that it is where animation masterpieces have been made. Some of the famous movies shot in New Zealand were The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Avatar.

If you want to know more about how you can be an animator in New Zealand, you can contact AHEAD International Education here. Alternatively, you may email Ahead International Education or reach us through +63915-1980248 / 632 7558823.

See you in New Zealand, Future Animator!


From Lines to Life: An Introduction to Animation.  Tuldok Animation Studios

Animation College website:

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