Color Composition : The Relationship of Layouts and Backgrounds to Animation From am Animator's Viewpoint

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From the collection of Hans Perk at A. Film L.A. and reprinted here with his permission.


[...] I was fortunate enough in a recent picture to have the opportunity of working directly with a layout man. I found out that a great deal of time is saved both in animation and in arriving at something that can be worked out effectively, thru such direct cooperation. We worked it this way: I went over the story with the director; found out just what the action was - went thru the procedure as if I were picking up the work, with the exception of making out the exposure sheets. Then the layout man made rough sketches of the whole sequence including model drawings, field sizes, cuts from one scene to another.

Together we went over the entire sequence, necessarily changing our ideas on it somewhat. I pointed out things that might or might not work - perhaps a model drawing that may have been too elaborate or could be changed to advantage. The layout man went over the sections in question and resketched the roughs. (All this was done in the presence of the director.)

We finally got something I thought would work, and I found in animating the sequence that things did work out more clearly. I had more freedom of action, and I saved a great deal of time which might have had to be spent in adjustment of wrong background, unworkable props, etc.

It is in such economy of time, effort, and understanding that I see the value of closer contact between animator and layout man. There is an opportunity for each to thrash out any problems that may arise. The animator is able to work out with the layout man, in case of doubt, that practicability of a model or a background; each can help the other realize all the possibilities in a scene or sequence. The animator should know enough about the work to foresee any difficulties that might arise that would make a model or background impractical.

If the layout man were in with the animator, especially when the latter picks up his work, there would be less opportunity for slips or errors, and both animation and backgrounds would tend to serve each other rather than conflict in mood or purposes. I could say a great deal about backgrounds spoiling animation, but there have been several cases where the animation did not help the backgrounds either. But even in such case, discussion of the problem by layout man and animation with the director would probably help solve the difficulty.

We have a system very similar to the one just described by Les in operation in our Music Room right now. We bring our animators to the Story Department before Dave picks up the picture - perhaps a week before - and the layout man, story man, and animator go over the picture thoroughly. We generally go over the whole picture with the animators, the concentrate on the individual animator's particular sequence with him. [...]