The Meaning Behind Smooth and Jittery Animations

Synopsis

Lynch uses a sophisticated and thought out code, writ large across the sounds and animations he uses, to communicate aspects of the Twin Peaks story to us. One piece of that code is a certain type of effect: in certain scenes, Lynch uses a jittery, staticky animation, replete with frame drops, skips, and jump cuts.

 

Hypothesis

When The Fireman or Brigg is utilizing electricity to accomplish something, the resulting animation is smooth.

When a Lodge creature as defined in the hypothesis here is using electricity, the animation is jittery or staticky. Here’s an example of that kind of animation:

 

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This, combined with the scratchy electricity sound, shows that the Fireman has fine-grained control of electricity, where Lodge use of electricity is chaotic and loud.

 

The Facts

 

Jittery Animations

  • In Episode 2, Naido’s palace is very jittery before Naido pulls the lever above her residence.
  • In Episode 8, the genesis of the Woodsmen scene is extremely jittery and has a ton of frame-drops. The scratchy electricity sound is playing during this shot as well

 

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  • In Episode 11:
    • When Cole is under the vacant home portal, he starts to disappear. Rather than disappearing instantaneously, he fades in and out a few times before Albert manages to pull him out
    • when Hastings is getting his head exploded, right before it happens his head starts to exhibit small, staticky movement

 

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  • In Episode 15:
    • Before the shot of Mr. C pulling up to the Convenience store, we see the jittery shot of the inverted-color utility poles.
    • When Mr. C walks up the Convenience Store stairs with the Woodsman, they disappear. However, their disappearance is not instantaneous; instead, they fade in and out before disappearing.
    • When Mr. C visits Jeffries, right after he picks up the ringing phone, he transports outside the convenience store.
    • Then, when Mr. C is apparated to the front of the Convenience Store, he is extremely staticky while holding the phone. The scratchy-electricity sound is playing during this shot.

 

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  • In Episode 17:
    • during the animation where Coop is time traveling from Jeffries’ home, the scene is extremely staticky.
    • when Sarah Palmer is stabbing Laura’s picture, the scene gets extremely staticky, and fast forwards and rewinds multiple times.
  • In Episode 18, when Mike is creating the new Cooper-Tulpa, the shot where he says, “E-lec-tric-ity” is jittery

 

Smooth Animations

  • In Episode 1, when Cooper transports from the Fireman’s home, Cooper has the same animation as the time travel scenes in episode 17. However, the animation is very smooth, with no jutters
  • In Episode 14, Andy’s transportation to and from the Fireman’s home is instantaneous. When he leaves the Fireman, a quick sound, like a light being turned off, is heard
  • In Episode 17, when Mr. C is standing near the Jackrabbit’s palace portal, he’s instantaneously transported

 

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What Does It All Mean?

One thing that’s important to note: any kind of animations or effects in films take a long time to create. There’s a lot of steps, from filming to post, that go into making effects what they are. With that in mind, it’s much harder to accidentally, miscue something with an effect, like it is with general film. It’s easy to reuse a set piece, or miss some odd behavior from an extra (just watch Legolas’ facial expressions in LOTR: The Twin Towers 🙂 than it is to accidentally put in an effect.

All this together, two pretty distinct patterns emerge:

  • whenever a Lodge creature is using electricity, the electricity is uncontrolled and chaotic. The scene is often jittery and staticky, and the loud, scratch electricity sound is playing in the background.
  • In contrast, whenever the Fireman is using electricity, everything is smooth and in control. Portal transfers are instantaneous, and the sounds, if they exist, are quick and subdued

 

Results

Lodge creatures have a much less fine grained control of electricity than the Fireman does.

Lodge creatures, when using electricity, are accompanied by a loud sound, or jittery animation, and frequently both.

The Fireman, on the other hand, has only smooth animations when dealing with electricity, and rarely has any kind of noise at all.

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