Photography in Cel Animation

by Niky Charouzová

Though used rarely today, celluloid animation has brought us many cartoons and animated movie classics, such as the Looney Tunes series by Warner Bros, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Walt Disney Productions, or the first 13 seasons of The Simpsons by 20th Century Fox. The production method of celluloid animation consists of drawings that are made on plastic sheets called cels, which are photographed in sequence in order to provide the illusion of movement. On rare occasions, errors do occur in the photographing of cels; this occurs namely in accidentally taking a photograph of the cel with the camera operator’s fingers in it, reflecting the camera apparatus in the cel so that it is seen in the frame, or improperly placing the cels on top of each other, resulting in colour changes in the frame. Dust and dirt particles can also accumulate on the film, as can the fingerprints of the cameraman. Hannah Frank’s Traces of the World challenges a theory of cinema where it is believed that “the animation camera is only incidental to the cartoon’s production”, rather than being a key part in it (Frank 23). Be it with mistakes or without, celluloid animation is arguably a phenomenon that, per Andrew Wilson’s claim, “reveal[s] traces of the humans and technology that produced them” (Frank 23).

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Cel Animation and Novelty

by Emil Sohlberg

As studios ramped up the production of live-action features, hand-drawn animation underwent a similar revolution with the invention of cel animation. Cel animation was defined by the division of an animated shot onto different transparent celluloids, which could then be overlaid. With this technique, a background, which previously would have been redrawn for every frame, could be reused for a scene, while just the cels that contained the movements of characters would be updated. Even moving characters could be split into different cels; after all, if the only moving part of a character was their face, then their body could be reused if on a separate sheet of celluloid. While inherently cost- and labor-saving, cel animation also allowed for a natural specialization in the animation process, where different animators could work on the same scene simultaneously by splitting that scene’s cels, with some working on backgrounds, or on character poses, and so on.

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Michel Chion’s Soundscapes

by Charlie Donnelly

The majority of meaning in film is derived from association. Whether this association is present in the form of the eyeline effect or the Kuleshov effect, no larger message can exist without relying on the audience’s ability to join elements in their minds. To Michel Chion, the associations made between visuals and sound seem equally important as any visual association.

In his discussion of the association between sound and visuals, Michel Chion, a prominent film theorist and the author of Film, A Sound Art claims there are three categories of sound that can be coupled, blended, and traversed in a multitude of different ways as opposed to the simplistic categories of only “offscreen” and “onscreen” audio.

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A Man Escaped (1956) – The Many Uses of Sound in Film


by Aditya Tandon

A Man Escaped, directed by Robert Bresson, is a film based on the remarkable escape of Andrew Devigny from the Fort Montluc prison in Lyons during the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. It tells the tale of Fontaine, a man from the French Resistance, his experiences in prison, the other inmates he meets, the escape plan he hatches, and a young boy named Jost who joins him in his final days.

Given the title of the film, there is obviously little suspense as to the outcome of Fontaine’s period at Fort Montluc, and yet, Bresson succeeds in keeping the audience fully invested during the 101 minutes duration of the film. Principally – although certainly not purely – he does this by giving enormous importance to the sounds in the film and the various purposes they serve, amplifying the volume to such a great degree during many parts that he is almost forcing us to pay extremely close attention to them.

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Invisible Cinema: The Creative Processes of Post-Production Sound

by Julian Spencer

There’s a very different air in the room when a screening begins: “Our feature film today, a revolutionary work in silent film…” Already, sporadic blips of white electronic light begin to pervade the otherwise uninterrupted darkness of the theater as students prepare alternative entertainment to the silent spectacle on screen. Whispers run through the crowd. I hear a neighbor ask: “Why can’t we just watch a normal movie?” Even if a score accompanies a work, there’s no denying that a lack of dialog makes a movie a much less appealing choice for a filmgoer; when is the last time you sat down to watch a Chaplin for family movie night?

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Is Found Footage Believable?

by Grace Park

Peterson proposes analyzing film by first fitting a global schemata, like a narrative, to the film, then working outward to increasingly more open-ended, local schemata, like metaphors. Peterson structures his method of film analysis by breaking down avant-garde film into minimalism and assemblage; found footage falls under assemblage and is defined as “heavily edited collection of footage from disparate sources, with an emphasis on juxtapositions of disparate images.” That juxtaposition includes the order of the images, the audio overlaid with footage, and special effects. In found footage films, seemingly unrelated images are made meaningful in the context of each other. As Abigail Child explains in her interview, found footage editing involves taking apart each source’s narrative by removing its internal links, then combining the footage with clips from other sources to allow the mind to link together a new narrative. This approach of reading meaning into found footage contrasts directly with Sontag’s claim from last week that film should be felt more and analyzed less.

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Montage in Cinematography—Lev Kuleshov and Sergei Eisenstein

by Renato Corghi

Reading 1: Montage as the Foundation of Cinematography by Lev Kuleshov

Purpose: Lev Kuleshov makes his purpose for writing this piece clear: to familiarize reader with the work of the Kuleshov group. More specifically, he is relating the process by which he developed his theory about montage and what his findings were. He breaks this process down into separate chronological stages.

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