How Cause and Effect Cues Can Heighten Visual Storytelling

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A cause and effect relationship is an action followed by a reaction. When attempting to convey a narrative in animation, nailing down your cause and effect signals can help take your storytelling to new levels. Read on to learn how cause and effect cues can heighten visual storytelling.

Match or Twist People’s Expectations

Imagine you’re watching an animated film about a baseball team and one of the characters gets up to bat. When this character hits the ball, we anticipate the ball to go in the same direction as the bat, which is the cause and effect we’ve observed in real life. You can, however, bend the rules of reality to do things like emphasize comedic timing or demonstrate that a character is unusually strong by having the action create an unexpected reaction.

Drive Characters Actions and Plot

Cause and effect are what propel the story and keep the viewer interested. A sequence or course of events can advance the narrative’s plot. For example, when a character wants to attain a goal, they embark on a quest, which causes other characters to assist or impede them from achieving their goal.

Build Anticipation

Chekhov’s gun is a well-known storytelling concept that asserts that if a gun is visible early in a tale, you must fire it at some point. Whether you set a visual cue up in the foreground or background, this same concept helps generate anticipation. For example, if you have a cannon loaded in the background, the audience wants to see what happens when that cannon fires, and it allows you to animate a fun sequence.

Create Moments of Dread

By creating suspense, cause and effect may emotionally influence an audience. When we see a character travel down a dark corridor that we just saw a killer go down, feelings of dread begin to seep into our brains. By experimenting with cause-and-effect cues, you can either dig deeper into that fear or pull back and provide comfort to an audience.

When creating a narrative, learning how cause and effect cues can heighten visual storytelling help you drive your story forward without needing endless exposition explaining every little nuance you want to show. Knowing how to handle these concepts is a robust tool in your arsenal of storytelling principles.

MoGraph Mentor provides online 2D animation courses that can help you build on the above concepts, develop a sturdy foundation, and create an engaging portfolio to present to prospective employers and clients. Feel free to contact us with any questions about our services.


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