[...] look at the hand pointing and then follow the direction
of the hand and find the fire. To be extreme, a dog's reaction
would be just to look at the hand. This is just an illustration
of the fact that we are dealing with different mentalities,
which we should always take into consideration.
The only source from which I could obtain any lead at all
on the matter of staging as we treat it was from a magician's
book. It was interesting research, because I found the magician's
technique to be one of misdirection, exactly the opposite of
ours. The magician deceives the audience by making, for example,
a big flare with the arm that is not doing the trick. The art
lies in his being able to move the other hand unconsciously,
manipulating it in so natural a manner that the eye does not
catch the movement. The unnatural action which he is doing with
one hand attracts the eye away from the hand doing the trick.
The only trick in the magician's art is to deceive the eye.
I find it very interesting, because our art is not to deceive
the eye, but to be sure it is where we want it to be.
In writing on the magician's art, the author made the point
that the hand is not faster than the eye as we might believe
when watching a magician. The hands do not move so quickly that
you don't see the action taking place. It is simply "misdirection"
- getting the eye where it should not be. That is their art,
and a successful magician is perfect at misdirection. Therefore,
we would say that a good animator would be perfect at direction.
I think the Charlie McCarthy technique is a very good one
to study -- the illusion created by having the dummy moving
his head and slapping his mouth up and down, causing you to
watch him instead of Bergen. The little fellow is so fascinating
that you actually believe the illusion that the sound is coming
out of his mouth. Bergen's art is in directing the eye where
he wants it to be -- the same problem we have.
There must be a sureness of controlling the focal point.
Some of our gags nowadays are getting so subtle, with eye expressions
and little quirks on the body, little hand movements and facial
expressions that if the animator misleads the audience to any
extent away from that one central focal point, the whole gag
is lost. Gags that have been built up over a period of months
are lost just by a slight misdirection of the eye. [...]