Beginner’s View – filming the cels

My camera has an electronic release (remote control) so there is little vibration when I press the release.

At least it is time to get the cels out! I had been so careful with the cels that I decided to still wear my cotton gloves while manipulating them for photographing.

I draw up exposure sheets as I am doing the drawings and use these to check which cels should be on the animation stand for any given shot. In addition these sheets are helpful when drawing because you can time things out on them. I used four levels.


For a start my figure is behind the door. So the level of the eel with the figure on it is below the door.

The door opens as if the figure has opened it – although in fact the figure does not move (no changes in that level of cels).

The figure walks forward. Immediately it starts to walk forward I change the level of the cels with the figure on so as the figure will go avers the door. (Fig.2). The figure moves forward and opens the gate. As it does so I change the level of the cels of the figure so as it will go over the gate. (Fig.3)

The reason that piece of hedge is there on the upper most cel is that I made a mistake and did not realise it until I had painted the door cels. (Fig.4) The gate post is coming over the door, as shown, all painted originally on the back ground. But I went and painted the door cels as if the whole expanse of it could be seen clearly. So the cel in the closed door position went over the background, which (apparently) is the foreground. Rather than repaint the door sequence of cels I put a cel level in with the hedge and gate post.

And after all that had I got the framing right? No, I hadn’t.

The exposure and focus were fine and the animation was O.K. for a beginner I thought. Even so the top and bottom of the platen is showing and so is one side of the artwork. I’ll have to shoot the whole lot again but before I do I’m going to devise a ‘target’ to put on the stand to aim at and frame on, which will take care of the errors in my camera’s viewfinder. No more guess work!

(There must be an animation moral in this tale somewhere!).

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 6 (Autumn 1983)