Anatomy of an Animated Film - Part 1: Shot Context

Posted: 2023-01-17

The Anatomy of an Animated Film, although complex at first glance, can be easily understood when broken down into its component parts. Understanding the structure of the film, from a top-level perspective, is crucial for all production staff and artists. They must focus on the connections and dependencies between elements and how they affect each other when scheduling and delivering assets.

Supervisors, leads, and artists must have a deeper understanding of the more granular steps and processes involved in the production of course. We need a visual representation to understand how films can be broken down and how elements inherit dependencies from one another. It is similar to that of a tree with branches or a simple folder & sub folder system. We do need to begin with stating that we have two different contexts that we always treat slightly differently, however they still often adhere to our tree structure.

These are known as Shot Context and Asset Context. Shots are nested within larger sequences, and sequences inside the reels. Meanwhile assets are nested within larger sets or environments. To some degree we could nest infinitely.

Shot Context

Today we are discussing Shot Context and will start simple and explore the anatomy of a film, sequence and shot.

Anatomy of a Film

A film is typically divided into three main parts: Reels, Sequences, and Shots.

    Anatomy of a Film

Anatomy of a Sequence

As mentioned earlier, a Sequence is divided at logical breakpoints in the story, such as changes in environment or character transitions. This division is typically determined during the script and storyboard phase of production.

At its simplest a sequence contains:

However production may like to start linking some Assets at what we call sequence level:

Anatomy of a Shot

A Shot is the smallest part of a film in the context of editing, and it generally inherits most of its components from its parent Sequence.

It contains:

It's important to note that the breakdown & the contents of sequences and shots can vary depending on the specific needs of the production, sequence, shot and or the creative choices made by the team.