2. The three-dimensional dilemma

Certain camera movements are virtually impossible to realize in animation. Naturally, these are those wild rides including dolly shots (the camera is mounted on a crane or sits on rails) used by some ambitious director, sometimes to the sorrow of many cineasts. People and other moving objects are stylized (simplified) enough to animate them in such a way that a spatial impression evolves. But if you try this with backgrounds, the expenditure of work becomes intolerably high.

It can be now tried to simplify the backgrounds as well. But in this case the sudden change from the familiar realistic backgrounds to stylized ones and vice versa gets really annoying. I have seen only one scene in an anime so far where this has been tried and of course it did not work. So it is advisable to do the right thing and give up this option. Note that this is only the case when one tries to animate the background itself, normal zooms and pans not included.

The only remaining possibility is using a single big panoramic picture as a background and pan the camera across it. Unfortunately this is not a too flexible method. Its main utilization, simulating a circular pan in which the camera is moving around a person or several people, has become rather a cliche nowadays. This technique can be used much more effectivily in flying scenes, when the ground or something else falls behind in an impressive manner. Well, there are not too many flying scenes in "A Little Princess Sara", but once the method was used to express a sensation of dizzyness.

example 1: Becky example 2: Carrisford's carriage
Usually, uncommon camera movements are avoided in the series. But when a scene is planned to have a strong spatial effect, an object or a person takes the dominant part and is shown in an extreme close-up view, in most cases only for a moment. On the left there is an example using the worm's-eye view. There are of course also ordinary zooms, but they are somewhat trivial and I will skip over them. And a scene like that combined with a zoom would match better with the thriller or horror genre.

The right example shows a really skillful utilization of the available resources. Note that a camera movement is simulated by animating only the carriage. This stylized object is very suited for the concept of concealing details when objects are shown from farther away. (There is a technical term for this concept but I don't know the English translation, sorry. ^_^) By the way, the space of time in which the window becomes opaque is only a few milliseconds long. The second part of the scene combines a normal pan with a normal zoom backwards. What makes this special is the background picture. It is constructed in a way, that the effect of the zoom is emphasized. At first, only the steps are visible at most. Only after the zoom starts, the vanishing point slowly comes into view. In this case this is the point where the red carpet vanishes into the house. Now that the background picture is "vanishing" faster to the top than the zoom itself does, we attain the desired result.

Generally, the principle we came across while dealing with the unusual visual angles holds also in this case and even more strictly than before. You can still ruin the whole scene by using such an effect in an improper way. Just because it "looks good" does not mean that you want to carry it to far with your directing "skill". The two scenes cited here are both connected to important events in the storyline which justify their presence. In the first, Sara is confronted with real poverty for the very first time, as Mariette relates Becky's life in the Seminary to her. In the second, a very important character, Mr. Carrisford is introduced.

So far I have dealt with all the examples under a certain technical aspect, respectively. But in this manner the whole dynamism of a film has not been taken into consideration. How this is meant will soon be revealed at the next page where it is demonstrated that direction is not just a concatenation of seperated themes but can also tell a story.

  1. Some examples
  2. The three-dimensional dilemma
  3. To tell a story
  4. Parts of the whole
  5. Forgotten anything?

Back to the introduction
Taro Rehrl (e-mail), 1998-09-20, 2002-08-17