Hibike! Euphonium S2 - Episode 9

Thursday, December 1, 2016

There was a part of the episode where Asuka opened up about her mother and described her as crazy, possessive and hysterical. These are words with strong negative connotations and yet Asuka uttered them in a nonchalant and cold manner. She even rationalized that she didn’t hate her, as if putting on a façade. Fittingly her dialogue was shot as a direct overhead shot. This type of shot tends to be flat and minimizes perspective lines. This visual, depending on context, can feel cold, sterile and unengaging. The coldness and sterility of this visual captured her tone and demeanor. The unengaging flatness accentuated the sense of disconnect presented by her façade.

Overhead shot

Kumiko saw through this façade and didn’t mince words. She immediately insinuated that Asuka actually hates her mother despite her calm and carefree demeanor. The façade was broken as reflected by the drastic transition from the unengaging overhead shot to the more emotionally engaging close-up and extreme close-ups.

Hibike! Euphonium S2 - Episode 3

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The beginning of the discussion scene between Kumiko and Asuka purposely broke the 180 degree rule in order to build tension. The 180 degree rule is designed to maintain the camera on one side of the line of action so that the subjects stay on their side of the frame consistently. This is done for visual continuity, which makes it easier for the audience to follow the scene. The rule is broken when the camera jumps the line and the subjects suddenly switch sides on the next frame.

There are times the rule is broken for either practical or narrative purposes. The scene between Kumiko and Asuka broke it for the latter reason. The characters switching sides multiple times created a subtly disorienting and jarring visual that enhanced the tension of the scene. This disorienting visual also reflected Kumiko’s feeling of unease and nervousness throughout the entire exchange.

180 degree rule broken: Asuka on the left side in the first then switches to the right in the next shot.
The rule was not broken since the extreme close-up acts as a reset but the switch still has a similar effect when in context with the other shots. 
180 degree rule broken: Again Asuka on the left side in the first then switches to the right in the next shot.
The first and third examples above broke the 180 degree rule. In the next shot for both examples the characters are on the different side of the frame. The second example doesn’t technically break the rule since the extreme close up works as a reset. Despite not breaking the rule, it’s cohesive with the other examples and still maintained the uneasy visual.

When Asuka was about to reveal the reason she’s against Nozomi rejoining the band, a dramatic coverage was used to build suspense. As you can see in the shot sequence below, it starts with a wide shot, cuts to close-ups and then cuts to extreme close-ups for the moment of truth.

Shot size progression is a common practice and often happens multiple times within each scene, while using different angles. It can be striking when a single angle is used, just like the example below where it stays as a straight profile shot that just gets tighter and tighter.

The Case of Hana & Alice

Monday, May 30, 2016

When the camera moves it’s always good to have a reason behind it whether it’s practical or narrative driven. Camera movement with perspective changes is even more dynamic in traditional animation since it’s a lot rarer. This rarity makes the camera move a powerful visual storytelling tool and The Case of Hana & Alice made use of it to a great effect.

The Case of Hana & Alice is a story about two teenage girls dealing with significant changes in their lives. The movie conveyed these changes through camera movement and perspective changes. Horizontal tracking shots were utilized as a visual metaphor for the pivotal transitions in the story and the characters’ development. The rare perspective changes in these shots aided in giving more emphasis to the visual metaphor.

The first horizontal tracking shot of the movie is Alice and her mother walking to her new school. Transferring to another school comes with the challenges of getting to know new people, getting accustomed with a new environment and dealing with bullies. It’s a big change in life and the tracking shot helped visually demonstrate it.

The perspective changes in this shot are also quite subtle. It’s really only noticeable in the shadows and stains on the ground. These small changes can represent how little we know about the characters but as the viewers get to know them more the perspective changes become more drastic.

There’s also parallax scrolling in these shots but it’s merely an illusion of depth with no actual changes in perspective lines.

Prior to the shot above Alice’s father was encouraging her to join the relay team. The tracking shot is more than just a sign of her joining the relay team; it’s an emphasis on the major changes it will bring. Not only being in the relay team helped her fit in with her classmates but it also lead to knowing more about Hana and eventually meeting her.

The tracking shot beginning with a walk and ending with a run can also be interpreted as an escalation in the story and character development. After this shot the story became much more adventurous, emotional and personal.

The tracking shot above marks the beginning of a close friendship. Alice has become comfortable enough with Hana to hug her and ask a personal question about why she has become isolated. Shortly after this scene Hana shares her deeply personal and emotional reasons on why she ended up as a shut-in.

There were a few more tracking shots like these in the movie but these three were the most effective in demonstrating its use as a visual metaphor for change.