The other night myself and the ever talented Sean Manning hung out and spent the evening watching Prince of Egypt. Now, when I say 'watched Prince of Egypt', I'm kind of lying, because all we really did was gawk at every scene and imagine how amazing it would be if any given sequence in the film could be one of our thesis'.
As you know from the previously written poem, as I've been working lately, I have been nixing boring scenes and quickly re-making them as better, more character driven, and easier to watch (at least I think so). And of of the sequences that has frankly been bugging me (sans the lab, which is now 'fixed') was the sequence once they enter the portal world.
Frankly it was dry and un-interesting because everything just happened without any major actions from the characters driving the plot. The movie was essentially a film where things happen to characters, not a movie where characters make things happen - and simply put: that is a problem.
I believe in telling stories that are character driven, and as I look over the 'Portal World', I keep finding more and more problems. 1) It's too damn long. 2) The father should be more nervous/ afraid for his son having come to rescue him instead of just saying "Oh good, you came I knew you would..." as if he has just been Diva-ing out 'Damsel in Distress" style waiting to be saved. 3) The ghosts just come over the hill, which frankly, isn't very scary, and is pretty much just random. 4) They run and run and run and run and run and run and run and escape. Where is the excitement in watching OR animating that? 5) The Panther pretty much stops running and gives up on life for no reason, and sacrifices himself in a way that doesn't even help out anyone else since there is no delay caused at all. And, I look back on my animatic and say "What the hell, Ezra. Are you kidding? You want to direct features, and you can't even handle a 5 min film at a capable level?"
And I can't have that.
So I took the day off working yesterday to separate myself from my film for a little while and then I spent today crafting a remedy to my many problems.
First I went on Youtube (the best visual reference library in the world) and looked up all of my favorite scenes (action and climatic-type) and watched them to see what the pro's do that made me love their scenes so much. If you have time I recommend you watching all these clips too, as they are all great.
After watching these clips and a few more many times, I realized a few things. At this point in a story, a Hero doesn't run from their problems. The face them the best that they can to protect their goal. Wide shots are often used to diminish the size of the hero to his threat and make him seem meek. Lighting becomes very important, as does the environment. Creative camera angles are used, not just closeup, midshot, straight, and over-the-shoulder. There is false hope at a point, and the hero usually seems to distract or trick the villain to win, as opposed to using brute force. Demonstrating brain power over physical.
But the most important part is that the hero doesn't run. He stays to fight to protect the goal. He stays to fight to ensure that the villain/threat can never harm or threaten him or the things he loves again. He risks it all to prove and protect what he believes in.
And Malcolm and Julius need to do this too. This is why they exist. This is why they went on the journey. This is what they signed up for.
Now I've never been a terribly 'compositionally visual' person, and I mean that in the sense of that I don't see things in terms of camera angles and shots and what not. I can think of action and excitement like nobodies business, but when it comes to picking pans, or sweeps, or all those other camera moves, I have trouble. But I'm working right now, using lots of reference, and I'm going to do the best I can, which is really the most anyone can ever say. I really am learning more every day. I've never *really* made a 2D short before, I've never colored my animation and done backgrounds and all that stuff, but I am learning how to do it, and I don't think this is bad for a first attempt.
So here goes. I'll tell you something though. It's going to be better than it is now.
Get ready, cause here it comes.