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Learning composition with the new Bluesky trailer

Some days ago I talked about the new Horton Hears a Who trailer, from the folks at Bluesky. I think I wasn't fair enough with this one, which deserves a post for it alone.

After watching it a lot of times, I've decided to write about an aspect of it that was a pleasure to notice: their awesome composition.

Yes, the animation is stupendous, the assimetric modeling is beautiful and the more cartoony (or less photoreal) render are other things that make this film a strong candidate to be the best animation of 2008. But the reason I want to talk about their great scene compositions is because it's a less obvious thing, harder to achieve and - still - extremely important to make a film stand from the crowd.

Those guys really thought about the film as a whole, not a bunch of parts assembled. Keith Lango wrote about it in 2006, which is a strongly recommended reading.

It is possible to make extreme flexible rigs, uber detailed modelings, lightings that could make Caravaggio smile and execute wonderful animations. Putting all those things in a scene is pretty harder to do, and Bluesky has made it. Take a look at some screenshots I took:


The blurred background is made in a way that guides the audience's eyes to the main subject: the flower in which the speck lands. The visual hierarchy respects the rule of thirds, making a stong composition. I've highlighted in red the path suggested by the background and the yellow lines mark the thirds.

 


Here, the door guides our eyes to the main subject, and there are no distracting information. Notice that the bookshelf is inclined like an arrow to show us where to look.

 


Both the buildings and the parapet guide our attention to the mayor, who walks to the left "third".

 


The tree branches here are carefully positioned to not compete with the little blue rodent, making a frame around him. Horton, the main character here, gains attention not only by his size, but also for his position on the imaginary grid.

 


This is one of my favorites: look at how his hand is on the main point of interest and how the formulas drawn on the blackboard make a spiral to guide us to it.

 


Another cool use of the thirds. The top of the table occupies the whole bottom third, the scientist picks the right third. They make a frame to the mayor, while the blackboard perspective guides the look.

 


How could one not see the melted snowman? The houses and the water make the frame, each children stand on a vertical third and the stairs are there to make sure we don't look elsewhere. =)

 


Finally, a scene where Horton is not on a third, but the background creates a clear frame where everything works smoothly.

It may be just a trailer, but we can also learn a lot from it. =)

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(16) Comments

21/Dec/2007
Bruno said:

wow ths is great, amazing how composition can really make a shot. thanks for taking the time to do this.


24/Dec/2007
BonE said:

thank you! I hope I can use that in the future.


24/Dec/2007
Martín said:

Excellent. Simply Excellent. By the way, you have the images clean? I think that showing that to the students before tracing the thirds and arrows will be really good. Thanks for this! Saludos desde argentina!


24/Dec/2007
Satish "iluvblender" Goda said:

Awesome deconstruction.

All the best to you.

Cheers and Merry Christmas.
- Satish.


26/Dec/2007
Chris said:

I'm going to be watching for 3rds in movies again.


27/Dec/2007
Richard Melchiades said:

Olá Virgilio!
Grande amigo, como vai vc?
Putz, gostei demais desse artigo cara! O melhor que eu já li a respeito.
Continue nos informando com essas raridades.
Feliz 2008 man!


27/Dec/2007
Serge Gielkens said:

I will look differently now at animations and movies in general. Thanks for this elucidation!


04/Jan/2008
Paulo "cartuman" Marques said:

Virgilio,
Sou estudante de animação aqui em Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, e faço curso com o Otto Guerra, que tem como último trabalho o "Wood & Stock", com personagens do cartunista Angeli.
Tu vens realizando um ótimo trabalho aqui no site com informações e dicas preciosas para os amantes da arte da animação de personagens.
Obrigado.

abs.


10/Jan/2008
Tiago Allen said:

Grande grande, bem que você tinha avisado que ia colocar uns conteúdos fresquinhos no seu site o que você não falou e que seriam tão bons !! PARABÉNS cara.


15/Jan/2008
DSoto said:

I will definitely look at this movie a little more carefully (which means I will have to see it twice to just sit back and enjoy:)

Thanks a bunch for this


02/Jun/2008
Chad Fox said:

Fantastic article, I am definitely keeping this for reference.Thanks for putting it up


17/Jun/2008
rakesh waghmare said:

verry good.


20/Oct/2008
Vishal Vyas said:

Hey man,

Great great great stuff. It's very simple also but needs more time to understands for the freshers eye.

Any ways great stuff.

Thanks for sharing.


07/Apr/2009
Adauto A. Araujo said:

Virgílio, simplesmente EXCELENTE!

Sou um amante de animações, estou estudando Blender há cerca de 2 anos. Assisto filmes de animação por prazer e coisas como essa que você indicou passam despercebidos no "frigir dos ovos". Sua análise desse filme foi genial!

Parabéns!


29/May/2010
basil parsons said:


This was quite interesting, nice way to get the kinds
interested in composition while watching a movie.
Even useful for arty adults while accompanying the kinds.
Thanks for sharing this info - keep it up.

Regards
Basil Parsons


09/Jun/2010
BurryPlaubdab said:

nice design!= and greate news


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