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Thursday 30 November 2023

Camera Blocking Class

Here’s how I used to explain camera blocking to students. I showed them this step-keyed animation scene staged in different ways. Often students, would present their scenes in a neutral way, often with poor composition and flat staging. Perhaps something like this -

Flat, Static, poorly-framed Camera Blocking

'Soap Opera' Camera Blocking
Here's the same animation but presented as a wide establishing shot, then a series of over-the-shoulders. It’s basic but works a lot better than before. The characters look more appealing in 3/4, we can read their expressions better & we know who to focus on at different points.

If we look at the camera placement you can see that the camera stays the same side of the characters. There is an invisible line between the characters called an axis of action and, to avoid confusion, we keep the camera on the same side of this line.

Cross The Line
Here I have the camera on the wrong side of the line. The characters now face the same way over the two shots which feels odd. I was always frustrated this ‘wrong’ version wasn't as jarring as I’d hoped. I think because we have the table and other character to orient ourselves.

Refined Camera Blocking
From our basic example we can start to plus it, enhancing the story with subtle changes. Here the shots gradually get tighter during the sequence ending up with singles on the two characters. This gives the middle part of the scene more intensity.

Further Refinement
We can take these ideas further, in this version I've also added dollies to the shots where the boy puts his head on his hands - emphasising his dreamy reverie. I use a stronger up shot on the girl as she stands and shoot the boy in a down shot, which gives her a greater feeling of dominance.

Sign Opening Shot
It’s interesting to experiment with the establishing shot, it can have a big affect on the sequence. Here, starting with a shot on the cafĂ© sign emphasises the location.

Point Of View Opening Shot
Here I start with a close up on the boy character and add a point of view shot as he looks to the girl, now the audience are encouraged to see him as the protagonist in the scene. Their empathy for him will be stronger, giving his emotions and eventual rejection more weight.

Main Gaits for a Horse and Panther

I did these quite a while ago for an iAnimate creature introduction, part of me would like to redo them to fix all the mistakes but unfortunately I don't have the time right now, so I'm just posting them as they are. Maybe this is helpful to some animators starting out with quadrupeds.