Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out
— Martin Scorses

When considering our ideas we need to remember what it is we choose to show the viewer, and more importantly what we chose not to show the viewer. We need to consider what is essential in telling the story and what is not.

We are creating a short gag for our project so we will look at how we can tell an efficent story in a short period of time. To demonstrate this we will look at some examples from Garry Larson's 'The Far Side' cartoons. In the following images we will look at how everything that is visible in the frame is essential for the story to work, and notice that there is nothing added that does not need to be in the frame.


In the above frame we open on the moon, setting the stage. We add an astronaut reading a letter, we now have a subject but still no story. We add a flag giving our subject context, he has recently discovered this region of the moon, the backstory. We then add the dialogue giving us the punch line to the story, and the final visual element is the spaceship disappearing in the background. We have only been provided with the important parts of this story, we don't need to see the other astronauts looking for him, or even their landing on the moon. Garry Larson has even gone so far as not to finish the dialogue.


Again we set the stage, an elevator. We add some people to the scene, but the main driver of the story however is the lion, which one of the people has brought into the elevator. This alone those not create the tension needed to develop this story, but once we place the lion tail between the soon to be closing doors we have created anticipation of whats to come. The dialogue clarifies the story. If we are to remove any of these elements the story will no longer work, if we remove the people we loose the drama, if we kept the lions tail inside the elevator the tension is removed.

and below is another example,


In the below video by Tony Zhou creator of the video channel 'Every Frame A Painting' is a short documentary about Chuck Jones and his ability to create interesting stories and jokes using anticipation or the perversion of that anticipation.


Another video by 'Every Frame A Painting' exploring the influence of Buster Keaton on modern day cinema. 



One of the key principles of animation, 'anticipation' will help you in the creation of your project so below is an over view of anticipation in animation.

Anticipation is the one of the most important animation principles that plays a main role in bringing life to a character. We all know the meaning of the term Anticipation. In general we use the term to express a waiting of the next move. In animation terms anticipation means a character getting prepared to perform an action, it means that when a character anticipates, he is also in the process of gathering some energy to perform the next action.


An action occurs in three parts: the preparation for the action, the action itself, and the termination of the action. Anticipation is the preparation for the action. Anticipation is an effective tool for indicating what is about to happen.



An action can be divided into three phases: preparation for the action, the action itself, and termination. Anticipation is the preparation, and it tends to be the longest and most important part of an action. It helps set up what a character is about to do and directs attention to where the movement will take place, so that once the action happens the viewer will better understand what is going on. Anticipation in its most basic form is an action that takes place in the opposite direction of the main action. Some common examples are the wind-up for a pitch and the crouch before a jump.


Anticipation can also be created by changing the environment that surrounds an object.


An animator must learn how to prepare the audience for an action. Applying anticipation serves this purpose. Anticipation always happens in the opposite direction to that of an action that follows after anticipation. You can notice characters in Tom & Jerry using extreme anticipation to engage into a powerful action, such as a sudden run, or hitting with an axe, or playing golf. One more factor that is incorporated in anticipation is exaggeration. This exaggeration and extreme anticipation followed by some thrilling action brings the character to life, thus helps animators in achieving the best character animation, which is appealing and enchanting to the viewers eye. Anticipation can be defined as an attempt by the character to generate some energy or a force to perform an action.

One of the tricks, which an animator has to learn, is how to attract the attention of the audience to the right part of the screen at the right moment. This is of great importance to prevent the audience missing some vital action of the story. Although the audience is a group of individuals, the human brain works in a predictable way in these circumstances and it is possible to rely fairly confidently on reflex audience reaction. If there are a number of static objects on the screen with the attention equally divided between them and suddenly one of the objects moves, all eyes go to the moving object about a second later. Movement is in effect, a signal to attract attention.

Roadrunner is all about anticipation.



The amount of anticipation used considerably affects the speed of the action that follows it. If the audience can be led to expect something to happen then the action, when it does take place, can be very fast indeed without them losing the thread of what is going on. If the audience is not prepared for something that happens very quickly, they may miss it. In this case the action has to be slower.

This is a video of Marcel Marceau doing Youth, Maturity, Old Age and Death (1965), at the beginning a man stands up with a sign saying youth, maturity, old age and death, this is anticipation. It is informing the audience of what is going to happen which for this piece allows the audience enjoy his performance without having to guess what it is he's doing. We are doing the same in our animations informing the audience so they can enjoy the action.


In an extreme case, if the anticipation is properly done, the action itself needs only be suggested for the audience to accept it. For instance, if a character sees something off the screen, it is enough for him to draw back in preparation followed by perhaps one or two drawings to start the forward movement. A few dry brush speed lines or a puff of dust can then imply that he has gone. These lines or dust should be made to disperse fairly slowly probably in not less than twelve frames. (In this case feathers)



The following video will help with your creation of the storyboard or animatic for your project.


an extra video that maybe on interest,