Friday, November 18, 2016

PAPRIKA Animation Analysis: Opposing Forces Within One Body

Satoshi Kon had a unique way of telling stories on parallel levels of reality. While this is most obvious in the editing and scene transitions, the actual animation by Madhouse is certainly worth analyzing as well. 

One scene from PAPRIKA (2006) I find particularly interesting from an animator's point of view is about two characters with opposing goals that share one single body. While the superficially realistic animation of many Madhouse films is sometimes mistaken for rotoscoped live-action reference material, here the animators' mastery of expressing weight and forces within an acting scene are fairly obvious. It is in fact a very sophisticated example of how to successfully apply all the basic animation principles.
many simultaneously interconnected movements in different speeds; squash and stretch on the heads.

Analyzing Animation
When I analyze an animation sequence, I ask myself what the objective of a each shot is, i.e. what story point (or "beat" in McKee's language) we learn from a shot, and how this is visually communicated through animation (= movement).

[NSFW] Animation Analysis of a Scene from PAPRIKA (Kon, 2006) from Oswald Iten on Vimeo.

What we can learn from analyzing the work of master animators, storyboarders and layouters for our own work are answers to questions like:

  • Which movement is best suited for the story point we want to get across?
  • Which shot size is necessary to communicate this movement?
  • How do we make sure that the audience gets the story point and is not distracted?
  • When do we need to hold a movement?
  • What body part leads a movement and to what effect?
  • How can we use counter-movements to emphasize strength and energy?
  • How do we organically time struggle and bursts of energy?
  • When does it make sense to switch from "twos" to "ones" or "threes"?
But the most important inspiration for any character animator should always come from observing reality and human behaviour around us.

If anyone knows the names of the animators who worked on this sequence, please let me know, I would like to list them here.

[Update 2016-12-23] Thanks to reader "ibcf", we now know that the animators were: Ei Inoue and Toshiyuki Inoue!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Amazing scene! Had to know for myself so I did some asking around--looks like the animators are Ei and Toshiyuki Inoue (no relation, as far as I know). Toshiyuki is sort of like Japan's Milt Kahl, a realist animator with a "perfect" sense of balance and draftsmanship. We can probably assume he did the more elaborate shots.