June 03, 2016

The Hand-Drawn Cinematography of 'The Iron Giant'

In this post I've displayed a few segments from Brad Bird's 1999 film The Iron Giant.

First, I'd like to talk about certain elements of the Storyboarding process, and how it generally two main functions...

Staging: The positioning of characters in each scene for maximum emotional content and clear readability of actions. In Animation it refers to the purpose of directing the audience's attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene; what is happening, and what is about to happen. This can be done by various means, such as the placement of a character in the frame, the use of light and shadow, and the angle & position of the camera. In live-action or 3D animation this is referred to as 'Blocking'.

Storytelling: Each panel's sketch clearly communicates to an audience the important ideas expressed through the action of each scene. This is all compromised of different types of shots, framing / editing principles, and scene transitions, and how they are used by filmmakers to help tell a story. These depict many elements like the poses and expressions of the characters, as well as how the scenes will cut and how close (or far) the camera is to the subject.

Framing, Character Posing, Visual Balance, Negative Space, Layout, Depth, and Perspective are all components of blocking the action of a shot, and it's all at the root of creating hand-drawn cinematography for 2D animated films.

The sketches below show a nice interchange of upshot to downshot that illustrates the powerful/powerless principle. The higher a character is in the frame, the more powerful they tend to feel. And the lower in frame that they are, the more powerless they tend to feel.

Up shots tend to make the character seem bigger, more menacing, more powerful. Down shots tend to make the character look weaker, less threatening, and powerless. The larger the character is within the frame, the more powerful they seem.

Techniques for achieving clarity in storyboards:

All these principles are just 1% of the many tools and methods artists use when creating storyboards for animated films. They are essentially the cameramen for the film, doing a visual rehearsal for how the film will be "shot"-- planning out the character actions & expressions, the FX, the layouts, the design of the shots, and the compositions of every scene.

Those responsible for the visual composition of The Iron Giant...

Steven Wilzbach

Storyboard Artists:
Viki Anderson
Mark Andrews
Irina Goosby
Ron Hughart
Brian Kindregan
Piet Kroon
Steve Lumley
Steve Markowski
Teddy Newton
Kevin O'Brien
Fergal Reilly
Harry Sabin
Mercedes J. Sichon
Dean Wellins

Here's the samples.
Click on any image to make larger.

Sequence 19.7 - Hogarth Teaches Giant

Sequence 19.8 - Kent with the Mayor

Sequence 21.8 - Comics in Barn

Sequence 22.9 - Hogarth Tucks Giant In

Sequence 23.7 - Can't Shake Kent / 2 Kinds of Junk

Sequence 24 - Giant Spins Hogarth

Playtime at the Lake

Giant Strolls Thru Town

Battle, Giant on the Run

The following are lighting studies for the layout artists, created to add strong compositions to the scenes, to help artists and painters later on to determine the light sources in their scenes and where to apply the shadows on characters and backgrounds.

No comments: