Animation Artifacts &Commentary 28 Jan 2006 09:30 am


My suggestion yesterday was that we should stay linked to our roots.
In the past few years animation has taken so many turns that it’s hardly the same business anymore. Yet, oddly things haven’t really changed that much in my view. It’s still about telling a story.

The TV work isn’t too far from the Hanna & Barbera material of the early 70′s except that it moves a lot faster – in Flash, so it looks more fluid. It’s all about how fast it can move not how a character should move.

Back in the 70′s, I remember thinking that the H&B animation wasn’t too far from the silent film animation of the 20′s. It’s done in the same cookie-cutter way on an assembly line of sorts. It didn’t take long before the animation was sent Overseas. Animators stopped animating and did layouts, until the layouts were done Overseas. Now animators do the storyboards.

But wait! Today we have Flash. Does that go Overseas,too? I’m sure most of it does, but in New York, we have Curious Pictures doing a series with 100 Flash animators on staff. Big business. Back to the 70′s.

Theatrical works have definitely gotten smaller since Walt’s death. Animated features used to be special when they were released. I can still remember the thrill of going to Radio City Music Hall to see Sleeping Beauty on its opening week. I had the 1958 book, Art of Animation, by Bob Thomas, with all those wonderful stills. Before going to see it, I knew everything about the film.

Does anyone own the books about the making of Hoodwinked or Chicken Little or Madagascar. Are there books on the making of these films? Some young animation enthusiast?

Don’t get me wrong, there are beautifully crafted films still being made. Just this last year we had the Wallace and Gromit feature and The Corpse Bride. One was visually arresting, the other offered genuine humor out of character animation and craft.

These were both puppet animation films. Though technically more sophisticated in the making, with many more advantages helping the animator, neither has moved beyond anything Jiri Trnka was doing 60 years ago. This is not a bad thing; it just illustrates my point.

We keep reinventing the wheel. We have to stay in touch with our past to see where we can move beyond it.

One Response to “Work”

  1. on 29 Jan 2006 at 12:59 pm 1.J said …

    Gosh, I wish you wouldn’t mention “Madagascar” in the same sentence as “Hoodwinked”. ; )
    (Michael, next time you’re out here, let me take you to lunch where I work. Deal?)

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