Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Why Animators Should Avoid a Profile View

Two characters talking in profile view
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators when they start out animating is to compose characters in profile.

When two characters are talking to one other, it seems logical that staging them in profile should work fine, but compositionally it doesn't work well.

Avoid a Profile View 
"Prepare to Board" by Nancy Beiman
The trouble with a profile view is that, while technically correct, it tends to feel flat and lifeless. In animation, especially in CG animation where we bring puppets to life, it's vital that the character's faces express as much life and energy as possible. We need to see their eyes - and connect with their emotions.

Three-Quarter View
A much better solution is to turn the characters' heads slightly towards the audience, so that we can see their faces and their expressions. The reason for this is that you want the audience to connect with your characters - and this means seeing their faces (and therefore their thoughts and feelings) as clearly as possible.

Profile View -vs- Three-Quarter View
As Nancy Beiman puts it in her excellent storyboarding textbook "Prepare to Board", posing the characters in a three-quarter view "adds the illusion of depth and dimension to the character".

Three Quarter View and Profile view compared
Take a look at the images on the right, of a little girl holding a worm. The artist originally staged the shot in profile view, as you can see on the right hand side of the image.  But the three-quarter view on the left works much better, because we can now see the girl's expression, and see what she is thinking and feeling.

Technically, her head need not be turned towards us. But from the point of view of creating an appealing well-staged composition, it works much better.

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