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Battle of the Still Frames

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"Anime is short for 'animation', not 'slide show'."

A show's rather low animation budget rears its ugly head during its action sequences. This isn't an Inaction Sequence by any means. Blows exchanged by two forces fighting (or dramatic stuff that happens) mostly consist of zooming, scrolling or sometimes even stationary frames. And most of them aren't even Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frames.

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Mostly an Anime trope. It has become more popular in Western Animation shows to hide more violent or complex fight scenes.

This was especially prevalent in traditional cel animation before the switch to digital came in the early 2000s. Since traditional cels required a lot of sketching, inking, and then cutting out by hand, the cost for complex animation for fight scenes was often enormous for many studios at the time; let alone making sure the cels were consistent while the fight was ongoing. Even subtle movements of the face would require redrawing the entire picture over again. With the advent of digital animation, the cost for more complex animations was greatly reduced and provided a much easier way to keep track of movement between frames through the use of onion skin, thus allowing for much more complex animations overall.

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May overlap with Stop Motion Lighting.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Berserk (1997) loved this. Notably during Guts' first fight with Griffith. Although you hear the shuffling of swords, neither Guts nor Griffith move during some of these shots.
  • The prequel to .hack/GU was full of these. There is one time in an early fight they waste two minutes with two different frames.
  • Demon Lord Dante's action sequences fall under this.
  • When not using Stock Footage, the filler episode battles of Sailor Moon usually involved this. Most of these involved Sailor Moon narrowly dodging attacks.
  • Record of Lodoss War features a battle between dragons that looks like giant still images moving slowly towards each other.
  • Happens in episode 7 of Season 2's Mahoromatic. Likely done because of the sheer amount of people taking part in the town's yearly mock battle.
  • The One Piece anime used stationary frames for a large portion of its early battles and events. Although the use of freeze frames have been toned down quite a bit, they do reappear once in a while. This owes a lot to the anime spanning all the back from 1999 and continuing onward for over a decade, with animation advancements and quality dramatically improving on a gradual uphill slope.
  • Used in episodes 3 and 8 of Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu. The first and last battles are shown, but all the matches in-between them are just still frames of the various girls in the show.
  • Used for all fights in Godmars, with the robots going from one pose to another between camera cuts. This even carries over to its appearance in Super Robot Wars Z 2.
  • Frequently used early in Kill la Kill, but they appear less as the story becomes more serious. Notable, but intentional examples from later in the series arise in battles with Nui Harime, an eerie Humanoid Abomination who rarely ever moves outside of still frames and is capable of reaching through those frames to mess with people.
  • The early years of the Pokémon series had a great deal of instances of still images of Mons in attacking pose vs. still images of mons getting hit with attacks. For battles the show basically forgot it wasn't a motion comic. It wasn't until the show switched from traditional animation to digital animation near the tail end of Johto did the show's battles start to become more dynamic.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hulk, Bruce Banner's battle with his father in the clouds was just still images appearing whenever lightning struck.
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    Print Media 
  • The fight scene in the MAD parody of Pokémon has a couple of extras hold up a backdrop with lots of "swooshes and scribbles" painted on, while characters on both sides complain about having to hold still in their Ass Kicking Poses.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Usually averted for actual combat in anything by Gerry Anderson, although due to the nature of the medium the gunfights tended to be a bit static. But one notably straight use crops up in the pilot of Joe 90, to illustrate a blazing row between the hero and his Mission Control on one side and a man from a Government Agency of Fiction who is understandably opposed to letting a teenage boy anywhere near the intelligence business. It works rather better than anything they could have achieved in Supermarionation.

    Video Games 
  • Used in the opening of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, all the characters are still models posed in combat, and the entire sequence is just panning over the various sets in mid-action. However, this appears to be a deliberate stylistic reference to comics rather than a budget problem, since Marvel is a comics company. By the end of the opening all of the characters and actions begin to slowly start playing out in real time, but not quite soon enough, as right after that the game transitions from them to the game's title screen.note 
  • Cutscenes in Avencast: Rise of the Mage are rendered like lightly animated ink drawings and shown in this style.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Parodied in Buttlord GT, where starting a fight leads to the characters being animated by the "3rd String Backup Animation Team".
  • Standard fare in the "visual novel" morphE. Even their most dynamic attempts at displaying battle are still frames on a moving background.

    Western Animation 
  • Used a lot in The Marvel Super Heroes, which basically just filmed the panels of the comics (with a little cut-out animation thrown in).

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