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.