In a normal movie a director would setup shots the way they wanted and direct the actors in such a way that ideally it would clearly have a certain imprint of that directors vision on it.

However in an animated film or show I don't know what a director would do exactly or how their vision would affect things that sometimes takes years to draw. There are artists who draw the scenes to follow the script. There are actors and voice talents who bring the characters to life.

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    The director's role is surely somewhat the same in live-action and animated movies, it is their movie - they are responsible for the delivery of the entire thing. The fact that the implementation mechanism is artists and voice actors rather than a set, lighting & actors does not reduce the fact that the director is responsible for deciding what goes in the scenes and how it is all made.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 21:16
  • @iandotkelly I don't see how that's possible though. I would try to explain better but I'm having trouble picturing what a director would do. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 21:20
  • The director decides what the shots look like, not the artists. The artists are the equivalent of a camera, and cameraman. They draw the shots according to the director's design and / or from storyboards the director had input and veto power over. The artists do not have free reign to draw whatever they care to. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 21:28
  • Are you focusing on the time the director sits on set and calls 'action'? This is only one part of the role of directing a live action movie - the planning that goes into setting up the actual shoot, location, set design, costuming, etc followed by the editing, sound etc. Yes, the director doesn't sit behind the artists - but they do make the final decisions about the art direction, character design, script, storyboard the scenes, etc.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 21:28
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    Interesting question though - I started thinking the roles were pretty much equivalent, but its made me realize that a director has even more control over the end result of an animated movie than a live action, that the role is more important!
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 3:22

1 Answer 1


The question focuses closely on the activities of the director that occur when on set shooting the movie, but this is actually quite a small part of the overall activities of making a movie. The overall process might be years long, with only a few weeks or months shooting 'film'.

To quote from the first few lines of wikipedia's definition of Film Director:

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. Generally, a film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision

This is absolutely no different for an animated movie from a live action movie - the director controls the entire artistic and dramatic aspects of the movie - from refining the script and casting actors through to the final refinements of editing, sounds and effects. However as @MeatTrademark says, the set and cameras and replaced by artists.

For more specifics of the role that the director performs on an animated movie, see the following article on slate.com. This article states that a director of an animated movie has even more control over the creative process than a live action movie because of the unlimited ability to micromanage every frame of the movie, and argues that an animated movie is more of a single person's vision than a live action equivalent.

  • Wow that article really explained it well thank you. In my head I couldn't see past casting and storyboard what a director could do once the animators started. After all as the article mentioned there is a stage where there can be no major changes and I guess I was thinking most of the process was like that since it can take months to draw or computer animate a scene. This really helped me to see how a director must be involved from the start and all the way through. I've wondered this for years so thank you. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 13:47

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