Aesthetic Effect Expressed by the Theory of Truth and Fiction in CUC Technique: Focusing on Animation Movie



Heqi Geng1, Donghyuk Choi2


Department of Visual Contents, Division of Digital Contents, Dongseo University

47, Jurye-ro, Sasang-gu

Busan, Republic of Korea







The objectives of this study are to evaluate the Cucoloris (CUC) technique expressed in the animation movie, Chinese theory of truth and fiction in the viewpoint of the video direction technique and the philosophical aspect and analyze the aesthetic effect. In order to achieve these objectives, present study describes the aesthetic effect regarding the theory of truth and fiction and the juxtaposing truth and fiction among Chinese classic aesthetic theories. In addition, several animation movie scenes utilizing CUC technique are selected to analyze the aesthetic effect using the theory of truth and fiction and the juxtaposing truth and fiction. The results indicate that the scene direction using the CUC technique enriches the emotion of a character and is effective in delivering the story and scene production. This directing method expands audiences’ fun and excitement to enjoy an animation movie through the collision between the visual effect and psychological factor. What’s more, it is meaningful to apply CUC technique on scene directing method, which can explain the aesthetic characteristics of the theory of truth and fiction.


Keywords-CUC technique; theory of truth and fiction; juxtaposing truth and fiction; animation movie


1. Introduction


Recent animation movies deal with various cultures and topics. And experimental directing techniques are used along with technological development and innovation. Especially, stories and scenes are often maximized by using the Cucoloris (CUC) techniques. CUC technique makes viewers imagine the meaning of a scene by putting a shadow with particular shape on a person or background, like the silhouette animation made using the shadow of paper. Animation movie scenes using this expression technique can be described as “juxtaposing truth and fiction” referred to Chinese theory of truth and fiction. In the theory of truth and fiction, juxtaposing truth and fiction deals with the problem of ‘fiction’ and ‘truth’ and draws artistic effects from artistic expression, which is one of the Chinese artistic aesthetics.

In this paper, the theory of juxtaposing truth and fiction is described, and representative animation movies scenes expressed by CUC technique have been selected to analyze whether they satisfy the artistic aesthetic standard of the theory of truth and fiction. Finally, it shows that the “juxtaposing truth and fiction” can be regarded as the theoretical basis of the CUC technique application in image direction.


2. Theoretical Background


The theory of truth and fiction is the core of the ancient art dialectic philosophy and it is one of the key principles of Chinese classical aesthetics. Author in [1] studied the theory of truth and fiction in the traditional arts and concluded that juxtaposing truth and fiction is an important aesthetic characteristic in the field of art. And the juxtaposing truth and fiction is regarded as the core of the theory of truth and fiction referring to the aesthetic characteristics that arise at the boundary between 'truth’ and 'fiction'.

The advanced philosophers explained their philosophical thoughts through artworks. Conversely, their philosophical thoughts had a profound impact on the development of later arts. The relationship between ‘truth’ and ‘fiction’ were brought up by advanced philosophers in China. For example, even though the original voice of clock bell and chime stone could already bring the beauty, the ancient artisan did not simply make a frame of ‘gouyu’, and instead the whole instrument was regarded as an unified image to design. In detail, the beast shapes such as a tiger or a leopard was placed under a drum, which makes people see the shapes of tiger or leopard while listening to the drums. The fictional combination of shape and sound in people’s brain makes them think the tiger or leopard was barking. Furthermore, the carving of tiger or leopard on this instrument became more vibrant and the sound of the drum was shaped. Especially, the appeal of the whole artwork impressed on audiences can be doubled. They thought that the image created by an artist was “the truth” and people’s imagination was “the fiction”. And the boundary of the shape created by “the truth” and “the fiction” was the combination of the truth and the false.


2.1. Definition of CUC

It can be said that CUC is a silhouette created by illuminating the outline of a letter or an object, as presented by Fig.1. And the silhouette is a shadow expression, which is also called 'black shadow' with many advantages, such as simple tool requirement, temporal and spatial limitations, and fast production time in addition to the simple and bright decoration function. It was a kind of royal palace art and popular in Europe at the end of the 18th century.




Fig. 1 Various shapes of ‘Cucoloris’ made by diverse materials.


The direction using the CUC technique was pioneered by George J. Folsey (1898-1988), a photographer. When taking pictures, the tone of shadow in the shadowed area on an object was adjusted to highlight the effect of the bright skin color and white shirts of an actor, which is shown by Fig. 2. In addition, one ladder was fixed in front of the lighting instrument, by adjusting the distance between the light and ladder, the size and softness of the projected shadow were controlled to highlight the brightness of an actor’s face and the white shirt has gone dark because of the shadow of the ladder. Afterward, the scene direction using CUC technique has been greatly expanded and used in various fields.




Fig. 2 Creation of projected shadow using a CUC technique.



2.2. Aesthetic Effects of CUC Techniques

CUC technique is a shadow direction which uses illumination. In [2], Herbert Zettl concluded that the lighting has an outward-oriented function and an inward-oriented function, which indicates that the shadow direction made by the lighting can be viewed or interpreted differently depending on the imagination of an observer. Moreover, he explained that it would be possible to give diverse interpretations of the imagined object through the shadow and make various psychological descriptions using it.

Ross Lowell in [3] said that the enriched imagination of the people in the dark became a magical material. It means that the viewer's imagination can be stimulated through the shadow made by the lighting and the fun of appreciation can be effectively emphasized, which can be illustrated by Fig. 3.



Fig. 3 Examples of shadow for aesthetic effect.


3. Case Study


In present paper, several animation movie scenes are selected to analyze the aesthetic presentation of juxtaposing truth and fiction, which is a core of the theory of truth and fiction. The selected movies for analysis are as follows: <Hotel Transylvania>, <Mulan>, and <Toy Story>.

A successful character must have five features, which are innovation, creativity, artistry, fun, and exaggeration [4]. Animation movies utilizes CUC techniques to express these five elements for a character. For example, a virtual image created by the CUC technique is expressed by a very dark and simple silhouette. Following scenes presented in Table 1, expresses much more than a viewer imagines or it is expressed much less than a viewer imagines. This creates sameness or difference between audiences’ imagination and actual presentation. Moreover, it gives a deep impression on audiences and stimulates fun. The characteristics of a story or a character are strengthened by a scene expressing the effects of "juxtaposing truth and fiction" which can bring dramatic direction.


Table 1. Analysis of animation movie scenes



Scene using a CUC technique

(A ‘fiction’ part of juxtaposing truth and fiction)

Next scene in scene using CUC technique

(A ‘truth’ part of juxtaposing truth and fiction)



A scene describes a panic atmosphere in <Hotel Transylvania>.


Actually, it describes a father who loves his daughter.



A scene directs to make people imagine a terrible monster attacking people in <Hotel Transylvania>.


Actually, it expresses a friendly monster.



A scene suggests the appearance of a very scary dragon expressed in <Mulan>.


Actually, a cute little dragon appears.



A scene describes the appearance of a scary monster in <Toy Story>.


Actually, it describes a lifeless toy.


In <Hotel Transylvania>, it is directed to make people imagine a scary monster that will attack a young baby. However, the next scene introduces a father who loves his daughter greatly. These two scenes are designed to emphasize the character. Another scene in <Hotel Transylvania> use the same technique, which shows that a terrible monster tries to attack humans, but the following scene describes a very kind and friendly person. This scene can also be found in <Mulan>, in which a very scary dragon was firstly displayed, but actually it introduces a very small and cute dragon, which adds the disappointment of the character. Also, in <Toy Story>, one scene directs an appearance of a very scary monster using lighting. However, the following scene informs that it is not a scary object. Therefore, it shows a contrast difference from the imagination can bring the fun of imagination.


4. Conclusion


This study examined that the juxtaposing truth and fiction of the theory of truth and fiction is a theoretical basis which helps people to understand the direction using CUC techniques. Firstly, the juxtaposing truth and fiction, which is one of the most important principles of Chinese classical aesthetics and a core ancient artistic dialectical thought, was introduced. And then with the study of juxtaposing truth and fiction, as one of the effective aesthetic features in artistic expression, the video direction using the CUC techniques could be interpreted in the viewpoint of Chinese theory of truth and fiction. The CUC technique or the artistic expression method using the shadow can increase the cinematic quality and aesthetic value by stimulating the imagination of a viewer. Furthermore, it can be used for video contents (e.g., animation) and the stage art effectively. And we hope that there will be more valuable studies for developing various cultural contents by conducting an aesthetic analysis on artworks using the CUC technique.





[1] Zong Baihua, Artistic Conception, Beijing: Peking University Press, 1999, 67p-88p. (in Chinese)

[2] Herbert Zettl, translated by Duk-Chun Park and Woo-Geun Jung, “Aesthetic Principles and Methods for Video Production,” Communication Books, 2012, pp.51-52.

[3] Ross Lowell, translated by In-Young Huh and Dae-Jo Hyung, “Image Lighting Lecture,” Book and Road, 2009, p.53.

[4] Young-Hwa Park and Min-Goo Gang, “A study on effect of movement expression for the sense from visual perception elements in stereoscopic image – Focusing on the analysis of lighting and shadow,” Korea Science & Art Forum, Vol.13, 2013, p.7