Tuesdays, ANIMATED INSIGHTS BY SHANNON MUIR takes you inside Shannon’s latest reflections on writing, animation, and life in general.  To catch up on all posts, check out the Animated Insights portion of the website! This week she looks at the freedoms – and responsibilities – that come with creating animated characters.

In animation, it’s true that the canvas allows for a lot more than in live-action. This definitely holds true when it comes to characters.

Characters physically can be designed from the very realistic to the “squash-and stretch” variety; they can be humanoid, animal, or races never encountered on our planet. Their cultures can be very much like what we know on Earth, or new and novel ideas. There’s an endless set of possibilities.

However, just because things can be done doesn’t always mean they should. There’s always also the matter of the story trying to be told in animation. It’s a question of what types of animated characters – and by extension the world they are in – serve the story.

I suppose this should seem obvious, but it isn’t always. Sometimes people try strange approaches to things wanting the art to be the star of the show. However, when the story doesn’t support it, the end result rarely goes well and people are disappointed. I should be clear that when I say “story,” I’m not even necessarily meaning a deep through line, more of just a basic logical spine for the viewer to follow.

My love for animation hinges on the amazing ability to create such a wide variety of settings, characters, and situations to explore a near endless amount of stories. I also believe the animated characters, regardless of the story, are key to keeping us grounded with some perspective about these new adventures.

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