Yuri Norstein Research and Storyboard

The animator Yuri Norstein uses stop motion in a way that seems realistic while maintaining the ability to animate “cartoonish” actions in his films. Norstein uses intricately detailed cutouts and a multi-plane camera in his work (Bendazzi, Cartoons, “Yuri Norstein,” p. 372). The way he uses shadows and lighting in his films makes the puppets seem realistic. This can be seen in “The Fox and the Hare” (1973) when the hare is inside his home by the wood stove, and in “The Heron and the Crane” (1974) when the fireworks light up the heron and the crane. The use of lighting is especially impressive in several parts of “The Hedgehog in the Fog” (1975), specifically when shadows are cast onto the hedgehog and the bear by moths flitting in front of a lamp. In “The Tale of Tales” (1979) this lighting comes into play in several scenes involving street lamps, candles, wood stoves, etc. Norstein also captures very realistic movement in “The Tale of Tales” by using transparent cutouts laid on top of one another (Gromek, “Cutouts: Stylistically, Which Do You Prefer?” Stop Motion At Parsons). This technique is observed when the baby is being fed and then starts to fall asleep and again when the man smirks at the wolf. Norstein utilizes a multi-plane camera to give the effect of moving through the layers of foreground, middle ground, and background art. At the beginning of “The Heron and the Crane,” the camera zooms in through a foreground layer to the middle ground, and then zooms out again at the end. In “The Hedgehog in the Fog,” the hedgehog is shown to move through several layers of leaves and several puppets move forward and backward through the fog. When the camera pans across the shot in “The Tale of Tales,” the layers give a sense realistic relative motion, as the tree closest to the viewer moves more quickly than trees further away. The multi-plane camera also achieves realistic perspective, as seen in “The Hedgehog in the Fog” when the hedgehog is looking up into a tall trees branches. Norstein is also able to make his puppets perform dramatic and over the top movements with stop motion. In “The Fox and the Hare,” every time an animal confronts the fox, the character does several flips, rolls, and is thrown from the house. After the scene in “The Heron and the Crane” in which the two birds were dancing, the crane throws a woodstove over a low stone wall. Norstein’s work captures a realism that cannot be achieved through traditional animation, though the fantastic and dramatic movements of his characters are not easily done in live action film.


storyboard-1 storyboard-2 storyboard-3 storyboard-4
“The Candle”- original storyboard, Sabrina Acla, 2015
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