by James Eatock
How many expressions can He-Man's face perform in just one shot?
In any He-Man and She-Ra episode you would be lucky to get more than about two expressions out of one character in one shot. She-Ra's "Sweet Bee's Home" episode was not only a classic, but also the most expression-filled episode in the entire run of He-Man and She-Ra. With wonderfully directed scenes, and astounding smooth and beautiful animation, Tom Tataranowicz proved why he is the best director that Filmation ever had. There are two scenes in this episode that standout, because of how simple they could have been, and how beautiful they end up in the hands of Tom Tataranowicz.
He-Man's "Leave HER alone?!"
Below is a standard stock pose of He-Man as he talks to another character. There is no real need for him to convey many emotions while asking a question, so the shot is simple and not complicated.
He-Man's face changes 61 times in this one shot. 61 times! Usually there would not be that many He-Man expressions in one episode. But in this one shot the director has to have He-Man outraged by his sister's comment; realize that if he says the wrong thing he'll offend Frosta; convince Frosta that he's interested and fairly innocent to her actions by smiling; look at the audience to show his dismay; look out of shot and realize that Frosta is still paying attention; look back at Frosta; look skyward in annoyance; and then finally realize that Frosta is still paying attention. Some people may accuse this one shot of being over-the-top, but in an episode filled with many comical moments and many expressions that we have not seen before, it is perfect. Compared to the standard facial shots of He-Man, every single one of these frames is a new expression for the character. He has never looked this comical. It is also worth noting that when Frosta realizes that He-Man is getting the blame for her actions, her expression changes to one of pure craftiness, and then of course she makes another attempt to kiss him.
She-Ra's "Oh boy!"
As with the earlier He-Man standard stock pose, here is one of She-Ra as she talks to another character. There is no real need for her to convey many emotions while asking a question, so the shot is simple and not complicated.
Tom Tataranowicz knew how to use over-exaggerated emotions in the right place. In this one very short shot She-Ra, upon seeing Frosta's jealousy states, "Oh boy!," a simple two-word sentence. Most directors would have kept this scene as straightforward and as simple as possible. But to convey the exact emotion, Tom Tataranowicz has She-Ra contort her face to before-unseen extremes, as her nose, eyes and mouth are all animated at the same time. Animating the nose my sound bizarre, but in animation it is one of the most assured ways of expressing a very-comical moment. Although not animated as much as the star in this shot, it may be worth noting that Mermista's expression changes from simple innocence, to a well-drawn look of deep-thought.
With other directors handling the script this scene would have been very straightforward, and more in keeping with what we are used to throughout the series. But "Sweet Bee's Home" was the work of two people, Bob Forward the writer, and Tom Tataranowicz who storyboarded and directed the episode to make sure Bob's ideas were seen right through until the end; and he performed that task superbly!