28 January 2012 by Tortola Tailspin
After learning about the twelve principles of animation last class, I began to consider how important these principles are in animated films and cartoons. The first principle, squash and stretch, plays a very important role in animated films and cartoons because it can bring a character to life. The basis of how the principle works in animation has not changed over time, but it has been used in many different ways. Squashing and stretching can be used for how the character walks, talks, interacts with its environment, and many other things .
For example, squashing and stretching can exaggerate a character’s emotions or reactions. In the Looney Tunes cartoon “The Hypo-chondri-cat” (WB, 1950), two mice, Hubie and Bertie, go up to a window and see some cheese on the kitchen table.
Here, the squashing and stretching principle is used to let Bertie have the most extreme reactions when viewing the cheese.
The principle also enables characters to respond with extreme emotions, as how Bertie reacts in extreme fear as Hubie taunts a cat:
The squash and stretch principle can also be used to exaggerate a bad circumstance, which can become funny joke. In the Tom and Jerry episode “Saltwater Tabby” (MGM, 1947), Tom is ready to go out for a swim but his bathing suit gets caught in the door:
It was bad enough that his suit got caught in the door in the first place, but unknown to him, the stretching of his suit gets him into a bigger (albeit funny) predicament.
In one more example, squashing and stretching can be used in a subtle way, as in the exaggeration of speed or “life-like” movement. During the stampede scene in film The Lion King (Disney, 1994), Mufasa is animated in a fast moving scene during his attempt to rescue Simba:
Only by slowing down the film will one see that the squash and stretch principle was used for Mufasa’s quick movements as he:
Slides under a wildebeest…
… and gets hit by a wildebeest.
The same can also be said for Scar’s jump during the scene for the song “Be prepared”:
Slowed down, it can be seen that Scar’s foot was stretched to give the illusion of speed:
Without the squash and stretch principle, it may be difficult to animate such “realistic” movements and can result with choppy movements in fast paced scenes.
The squash and stretch principle is very important as it does not only helps animation look more fluid, but has many different uses to give a character an outlet for expression and movement.
Images created from private DVD collection
(1-2) Looney Tunes: Golden Collection. (Warner Home Video, 2003). DVD.
(3) Tom and Jerry’s Greastest Chases. (Warner Home Video, 2000). DVD.
(4-10) The Lion King: Special Edition. (1994; Walt Disney Video, 2003). DVD.
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