Development Program : Staging as Applied to Presentation of Story and Gag Ideas

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

[...] in "Snow White". I am not going to say to cut to close-ups of one character and then another; that is too elementary. I hope we can get a little newer approach -- a little better understanding of how we might present an idea, so when we do have more than one character in a scene, it becomes a matter of intense study to state that idea properly. I am not speaking of layout staging, which is a simple enough problem. I mean pointing the idea just exactly as it should be pointed. We must discover new ways of staging an idea, not by drawing, but by thinking it out more thoroughly and presenting the idea a little clearer, not by layout staging, but by an understanding and fundamental approach to that point where the idea must be put over. Cutting, naturally, is a distinct aid to staging. By its use we are able to eliminate from the mind of the audience anything that is less important than the particular point we are putting over at the time.

We all know the trick of cutting to close-up. Five or six years ago we didn't know that trick in cartooning. I want now, briefly, to look into the future, five years from now.

Q. What was the reason for not using close-ups in the old days? Was it that they didn't know about the use of close-ups, or were the animators afraid of the drawling? Weren't they capable of doing it?

A. We were not alive, in those days, to the necessity for development within our medium. We thought we knew how to make pictures funny, and only in the past three or four years has there been any improvement in what I call the Camera Department.

We didn't worry about staging in those days. Our gags were things you couldn't miss, anyway.

The technique of the camera on closer fields was a development after we realized the necessity for close-ups. The first close-ups that crept in were drawn to a huge size; then it became necessary to move the camera.

Q. It was not long ago in live action pictures they discovered they could cut off the figure and it would not look odd. We still have not learned that we can go out of the field with arms, and legs, etc. We have always thought that the close-ups had to be subtle still things, or the scene had to be done in a long shot. Now that we have the camera that can come down on the scene, we can take violent action and put a close-up on it. [...]