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Blog Post #1: Exaggeration in Finding Nemo

January 31, 2012

    Finding Nemo is a Pixar film that features fishes as the main characters which is significant departure from having humans as main characters. Because the characters were fishes, animators were faced with the task of animating the characters so the human emotions could be read by the audience.  The obvious anatomical difference between humans and fished made the emotions of the characters an interesting challenge.

The animators overcame these issues by using the fins of the fishes as arms, and exaggerating the facial expressions in order for the emotions to come through.  Arm movement is a large part of human communication. People use their arms to accent the meaning of their words, every swoop and arm placement has specific meanings and allows others to read their message clearly.  The animators for Finding Nemo used this to their advantage.  The characters in the film use their arms as humans do, grabbing other characters, pointing, and exaggerating their own emotions.

The facial expressions in Finding Nemo are the main source or visual representations of the emotions of the characters.  The animators cleverly use the eyes to this effect. When Dory is excited, her eye bulge our in excitement. When she is sad, her eyebrows come together and she pouts her lips. Theses common facial expressions that people see everyday, are placed upon the faces of the characters. It is these expressions that are exaggerated and bring the emotions of the characters to the screen


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  1. I never realized how much Pixar used human characteristics to anything non-human. Dory was one of my favorite characters for this very reason. Dory was just a fish, but what Disney did was make Dory a memorable character because of her personality and her gestures. Her main feature was her eyes. They showed so much emotion with a simple wink, tear, look of fear, etc. Her fins even showed an amount of emotions. Her rapid flapping of fins showed her excitement, her slow slapping showed her being sad, etc. Her simple animated characteristics added to her personality and it ultimately made her stick out as one of the more popular characters of “Finding Nemo”.

    -Cristian P.

  2. Carolina Ruiz permalink

    Finding Nemo is a great example of the use of exaggeration, especially with the clip you presented. I feel that one tends to forget how important it that animators adhere to the principles especially that of exaggeration. Without such, the emotions and behaviors of animated animals would go unnoticed and the storyline would be lost.

    From the clip I can definitely see how the animators attempted to portray the behaviors and emotions of their characters by their facial expressions and the movements of their bodies, especially their fins. I also noticed that the voice actors for the animated characters tend to also exaggerate their performance. Maybe it also has to do with a particular scene and the personality of the character, but ultimately I feel that the principle of exaggeration can also apply to the actor’s performance in the animated film.

  3. It’s funny, because I had picked up on the clear exaggeration of facial expressions, but never thought about how the use of fins as arms can count as a form of exaggeration too. Thinking about how the film would have looked if the fins behaved like normal fins, and the animators just used facial exaggerations to express emotion, it would definitely look strange and the personality of the characters would be much harder to convey. I always find it fascinating how Pixar manages to create characters who can be human as well as whatever else they are supposed to be, be it ants, monsters, cars, or fish, and Finding Nemo is a great example of this.

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