The 5 Biggest Animation Blunders That You Can Learn From!

Continuity errors

Continuity errors are by no means a phenomenon unique to animation but they’re still all over the place in animated films and shows. It’s not like you have a stack of live-action footage where one of your actors hasn’t tucked his shirt in for half the scenes – you have the opportunity to freely edit your animation at every stage, so take advantage of this!

Backgrounds in animation are rife for continuity errors, so keep an eye on these when you change your perspective between shots. Also be aware of non-symmetrical characters: hair parting, tattoos, bandages, anything which is on one side of the body and not the other is liable to switch, keep it constant.

There are whole sites and blogs dedicated to spotting movie mistakes, with continuity errors as the most frequent ones featured by far. It must be pretty gutting to find your production up on some of these lists but I’m sure Disney can take it so here are a couple of their most popular:

Aladdin
aladdin blunder mistake

That’s supposed to be purple trouser material in the Rajah’s mouth surely, not heart-patterned underwear? After all, we’re not seeing this suitor’s bare cheeks, thankfully.

Beauty and the Beast
beauty and the beat portrait blunder mistakebeauty and the beat blunder mistake

Look, we get that you’re angry, Beast, but at least make your mind up over how you slashed up your own portrait in a fit of primal rage. Belle is going to think you’re a right nutter.

Shadows

Shadows have a mind of their own in animation, sometimes appearing or moving totally differently to how their caster behaves. I’m not talking about some spooky plot device like “ooh look at this character’s shadow moving independently of them,” it’s just a facepalm inducing error. There are usually some great shadow effects for a variety of light sources on some of the most feature-heavy animation tools but you should always try to manually match your characters to their shadows, especially when you’re using said shadows symbolically.

My first example is going to anger the young princess-wannabes of my readership (who definitely exist) because it takes place in…

Frozen
disney frozen blunder mistake

When Anna and Hans are belting out their first song together, they boogie on up to a lighthouse which casts their silhouettes on the sail of a nearby ship. What’s impossible to miss is that their feet are somehow detached from the walkway they’re standing on, as if they were hovering off the ground.

The Little Mermaid

During “Kiss the Girl” Ariel’s hair is obviously down throughout, but when the couple’s shadows on the lagoon’s surface are shown, she seems to briefly have a ponytail before switching back. Also, the bow is gone? She must be trying everything to get this dope to kiss her.

little mermaid blunder mistakelittle mermaid blunder mistake
Pocahontas
Pocahontas blunder mistake

It seems that this pair of shadows a bit more shy than the characters that are casting them: they aren’t quite ready to hold hands yet. When you’re making the shadows such a focus point, at least make them match!

Objects have properties

This is something of an expansion upon my last point. Is an object or character transparent? No? Then give them a matching shadow, because that’s what happens in real life. Is your character a vampire? No? Then why don’t they have a reflection? Mirrors shouldn’t be that hard but errors in reflection crop up occasionally in huge animated productions such as:

The Simpsons Movie
the simpsons movie blunder mistake

The map of Alaska isn’t reflected in the mirror even though the glow from the lamps is. Perhaps it’s a vampiric map?

Toy Story
disney pixar toy story 2 blunder mistake

Rex and Hamm aren’t shown in the reflection of this screen even though the rest of Andy’s room is and they’re standing right in front of it.

Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School
Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School blunder mistake

This was one of our favourite spooky Halloween animated movies from our post a few weeks ago so egg on our face for not spotting this one. Look at how in these two sequential frames the Mystery Machine’s headlights just pop into the shot as if they were only turned on at the moment of arrival.

Toy Story 3
disney pixar toy story 3 blunder mistakedisney pixar toy story 3 blunder mistake

It’s not just visual properties which you should be adhering to. Here, you can see how the gang all let go of their metal ‘handles’ and drop down from the magnetic strip to the shredded rubbish on the conveyor belt below. But how did Slinky get down because the magnetism is still active but it was his body which was stuck to it earlier? Look, we’re stoked that Slink didn’t get melted down as much as the next guy, but animation should follow the laws of magnetism and physics in this case!

Pacing

Pacing your scene can be an easier one to neglect because of the freedom which animation offers; just because you can manipulate anything in animation, doesn’t mean you can ignore the basics.

Wreck-It Ralph

When Ralph jumps games into the sci-fi shooter “Hero’s Duty” he gets thrown in at the deep end right away when combat starts as soon as the arcade opens. But just as Ralph delivers the first Game Over, they’re informed that “the arcade has closed” already.

Fair enough, I’m guilty of sitting down in front of my PS4 after work and suddenly, it’s 4am and my eyes are bloodshot and I don’t know where the time went. Perhaps Wreck-It Ralph is tapping into this gaming addiction theme and this sequence is a stark representation of this… But you know as well as I do that it’s just an example of atrocious pacing.

Phasing

Oof, I’ve saved the worst offender til last. Usually exclusively a 3D animation blunder, this is where one solid model seems to morph through another. You’ll sometimes hear this called ‘clipping’ in video games, where bad collision detection allows one object to move through another.

Shrek
dreamwork shrek blunder mistake

OH PLEASE GOD NO. This exemplifies my point perfectly, Shrek’s eye is phasing through his lid during a blink. There’s no way that this is a deliberate blunder or laziness hoping to go unnoticed like some of the above mistakes, It’s just an instance of bad 3D model composition.

Toy Story 2

When Buzz slides down that Hotwheels track in the beginning of the film, his arm passes directly through the loop on the car track. To infinity and beyond!… the realms of possibility.

The Toy Story series has taken a bit of a battering this week and for that I am truly sorry. But I do have a duty to show you where the biggest productions have made simple animation blunders in the hope that you’ll learn from them!

Check out http://www.moviemistakes.com/ and https://scoobydoomistakes.tumblr.com/ if you haven’t quite got your fill of blunders and you fancy ruining a childhood favourite. See you next week!