Cinematography for 3D animators

The quality of your cinematography can make or break an animation. Brush up your skills with this set of simple tips for framing, staging and editing shots.

Cinematography isn't simply the art of placing and moving the camera - it involves framing and editing shots to tell a story visually, express a point of view, create a rhythm, and add tension and atmosphere to a scene. An animation can be made or broken by the quality of its cinematography, while framing, editing and camera moves are all great tools to help accentuate the action or amplify the storyline.

Even technically good and experienced animators are often let down by their cinematography. The difference between a professionally composed and edited film and an unwatchable mess comes down to having paid attention to a few simple rules. Here are three rules that aspiring virtual cinematographers most commonly break. Rule 1: when going from a wide to a close shot, keep your character on the same side of the screen - if he was on the left in the wide shot, don't frame him on the right in the close shot. Rule 2: when intercutting between two people, their glances must always face in the opposite direction if the viewers are to feel that they're looking at one other. Don't make them look towards the same side of the screen or they'll both appear to be looking in the same direction. Rule 3: when a character moves between shots, he should move in the same direction on screen in each one. If he doesn't, it will look like he's changed direction.

To build on these fundamentals, we've asked four experienced professionals to share their tricks of the trade and tips for avoiding common mistakes. You'll learn how cinematography can support the action of a film and enhance emotions, and how you can create rhythm and visual flow. You'll also discover the magic behind the choice of focal lengths. Read on to discover 15 simple things that you can do right now to improve the structure of your next animation.

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