Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Theories on the use of theatrical esotropia in character design and performance

Bracegirdle, Julia



Based on content analysis and interviews, this paper will present theories on why the eye focus of realistic or semi-realistic animated characters is deliberately skewed inwards, in medical terms presenting as a convergent squint or esotropia.The origins of what I will call theatrical esotropia can be traced to long established comedy performance techniques. In the 20th century, cinema, with its screen proportions and framing shots gave novel emphasis to eyes as emotional cues across many more film genres. In animation, eyes also represent a design and portrayal decision. Theatrical esotropia in animation is not medium, style or genre specific, so given its prevalence, this paper will focus on one sector where its use is most remarkable and open to question – American feature film animation, in particular CG feature films (2000-present). This sector has long established aspirations towards realism, and in this context theatrical esotropia can be viewed as a symptom of conventions within animation practice and production. The use of theatrical esotropia is not uniform to all casts of animation characters and this observation will enable me to put forward a number of other theories about its use and meanings based on portrayal and gender, and the dilemma of realism versus appeal.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Society of Animation Studies
Start Date Jun 19, 2019
End Date Jun 19, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 10, 2024
Keywords Character Design. Realism. CG Animation. Eyes. Portrayal. Performance. Esotropia.
Public URL

You might also like

Downloadable Citations