Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Milky Waif – cheating continuity – part 3

I've been experiencing trouble of all sorts, including with my internet connection, recently, so there might be some delay in publishing comments... But back to the subject:

Cheating proportions and perspectives

This is the first time Jerry tiptoes out of his mousehole into the kitchen. The perspective on the wall is rather forced but not obviously so. Jerry’s size appears to be pretty accurate compared to the mousehole and the green stool leg which is all that counts for the audience at this moment. From the overall picture we deduce that the square tiles are about as wide as Jerry is high.

So when we look at the second picture, it looks as if Jerry had been growing because not all of these tiles are square any more.
This is even more the case in this next frame where we don’t have the cupboard for comparison. Taking into account the size of the square tiles, Jerry is almost as high as the cupboard behind. So clearly the perspective isn’t forced on the floor, only on walls and furniture. The important proportion here is between Jerry and Nibbles.
You could measure Jerry and you would see that neither he nor the shot width change sizes during this pan. But easier than that, you could just look at the pan as a whole to see that it’s completely linear except for the forced perspective already mentioned:
The slight reflections give the floor a nice polished texture. Although the horizontal lines are absolutely straight and we are looking at the wall at a 90° angle, the floor perspective fools us into believing that the camera isn’t always straight on but first slightly to the left, then flat on in the middle and later slightly to the right. If the camera had to be straight on all the time, one had had to animate the tiled floor like in Ken Anderson’s famous Three Orphan Kittens scene.

What I’m getting at is this: during projection this shot looks all natural and consistent, yet it is competently crafted using many inconspicuous cheats.
Then two shots later, Jerry comes running from the left still on the same floor. All the horizontals are parallel, there are no verticals, only diagonals that are fairly parallel, which is all perfect for a medium fast pan. BUT: look how small Jerry suddenly is compared to the wall and to the tiles! Although he’s still running in exactly the same direction as in the first pan, he is far closer to the wall.
It all makes sense when we see him in correct proportions to Nibbles, Tom and the bowl of milk. As spectators, not only do we not care about the proportions of the background elements, we simply don’t notice it as long as the character proportions are correct. Probably, the tiles were drawn larger simply because they look good that way. This however has two advantages, whether planned or not: the tiles themselves don’t draw too much attention to themselves, they certainly wouldn’t strobe (this pan is faster than the first one) and they show the mice as really small vulnerable creatures compared to everything else.

In really fast pans, the tiles merge into one single strip of green to prevent strobing and perspective changes completely as can be seen in the following excerpt of a never-ending background loop.

It’s obviously the same floor as this pan connects Tom’s fridge area with Jerry’s mousehole. All the cupboards are gone, so the repetition is less obvious (the chair helps, too).

The same pan is used a second time later in the movie where Jerry suddenly brings Tom to a halt (like it is only possible in a chase cartoon). There we are reassured by the bowl reflection that it’s still the kitchen floor.

1 comment:

Daniel Caylor said...

I would never have noticed this! Thanks :)