Friday 9 December 2011


One thing I find that often plagues animators that are just starting out, besides forgetting to bathe cause they are animating too much, is composition. What is compositoin you say? Well lets go to the dictionary.

composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art or a photograph, as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art.

Well that was wordy and what does it mean & how does that apply to animation? Composition has to do with where characters/objects are on the screen, within the frame of the shot. Too often than not, I see animators import a couple of rigs, throw in a camera and start animating. But why is the camera there? Why are the characters standing where they are? What is the composition? Why am I asking all these questions?  Thought and planning should go into your composition just like it does in your acting choices. When you go see a Pixar movie, they didn't just barf the characters & cameras onto the least..I hope they didn't. Lots of thought and time goes into where they should be in relation to each other & where the camera should be. Here are some tips, examples, & rules... don't worry there are images, cause reading text is boring.

Fill Your Frame - You don't want the viewer to have to squint to make out what they are looking at. If the character is the focus of your shot...make sure you can see them. Now, sometimes having a character small on screen can be used for dramatic effect, but if this character is talking or doing an important action, make sure we can see em

Rule of Thirds - The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) You want to place your main points of interest at the intersections or along the lines. Now this is a rule...and if I've learned anything in my days, its that rules are meant to be broken. So don't think you have to follow this all the time. But its good to understand the rules, so if you do break them you can intelligently talk about why you did.

Mood - This is a big one, you can use the angle/position of your camera to help evoke an emotion or mood. If your character is happy or sad, using a camera to help tell this will only make your animation that much better.
Placing a camera at a low angle looking up makes the subject look more powerful/strong. Vice versa, looking down at a character makes them feel more weak/helpless.

Positioning the character off to the side can create the feeling of loneliness and isolation.

Pushing the camera close in on a character can create a more intimate feeling.

Lines - You can use lines to help lead the viewers eyes to important parts of the shot.

These are just some examples and ideas. I highly recommend that everyone who is interested in animating try and learn more about composition! Here's a link that has even more info, cause you don't want to listen to me carry on all day. Happy Animating!

kyle kenworthy