Database for Animation Studies


Whole-Screen Metamorphosis and the Imagined Camera (Notes on Perspectival Movement in Animation)

This article uses a special kind of distortion of spatial orientation in animation, which the author calls whole-screen metamorphosis, to problematize the relation that theories of camera movement often assume between a camera and its world. Recent developments in digital imaging have prompted confusion among scholars as to whether or not it makes still sense to talk about ‘camera movement’ – since, in many cases, real cameras were barely used (as in Gravity) or not at all (as in Frozen). The author argues that this confusion is frequently misguided: camera movement, as a tool of critical analysis, has always been based on a phenomenology of perspectival movement, regardless of any use (or non-use) of a real camera. However, animators sometimes play with perspectival movement in ways that undercut the more fundamental impression of a cinematic world, effectively metamorphosing our relation to it. Two kinds of this metamorphosis are explored. One, found in Norman McLaren’s Blinkity Blank, creates a Gestalt switch of our impression of space; the other, found in Caroline Leaf’s The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa, dissolves the sense of ground that is needed to support an impression of world, in a kind of becoming-animal of the camera. These phenomena point to a need for more nuanced accounts of relations between live-action, animated, and digital images.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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6- 21
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