Commentary 24 Sep 2011 07:45 am

ChatAbout Bits

- The Ottawa Animation Festival has been ongoing for the past couple of days. We have a film in the program and would have really enjoyed being part of it. However, funds are tight, and I had to pass on it this year. It’s something I’m a bit sad about, but whatcha gonna do!

Richard O’Connor at his studio blog Ace and Son, is giving a daily diary of the Festival.
Here’s day 1, day 2, you can scroll up from there for the rest.

- Cartoon Brew featured a couple of videos this week that really had me thinking. Using some kind of computer animation, a couple of people replaced their faces (partially) with some celebrity parts. It was especially freaky to see some of the results. Surprisingly two of them went for a couple of the same celebrated faces: Castro, Paris Hilton, Mao, Brad Pitt et. al. The first video is more interesting than the second. The third vid shows moving facial expressions on various cartoon masks.
This all makes me glad that I’m in the twilight of my career. I think animation will incorporate all this motion capture stuff and will mutate into some kind of sad computation. I don’t see this stuff as animation but as Effx, and I think the industry has just gone off the tracks and walked away from any kind of real animation.
One commenter suggested that the early Disney stuff will someday look like garbage in comparison to what’s being done. Considering how many young people attack Snow White today, I’d have to say I agree with whoever wrote that. It’s inevitable that the people growing up with this computer nonsense will want more of that. No one will have to draw Daffy Duck in the future; just get some second rate actor to rant and put it into Daffy’s 0101010101 algorithm, and no one will ever have to draw animation again.
Given all the recent reading I’ve been doing about the silent Disney films, or Shamus Culhane’s bio or early Russian animation, I’ve been even more inspired to draw these days. I can imagine how frustrated I’d be with cgi if that’s what I did for a living. Given what I do work on it takes even more imagination to say I’m doing it for a living.


- Bill Benzon is back to his analyzation of Disney’s Fantasia as he comments in depth on the Ave Maria segment of the film. This is on his blog, The New Savannah. If you haven’t read his other pieces on Fantasia, you should check out the past posts.

- Sergio Aragones, Jack Davis, Paul Coker Jr., Al Jaffee and other MAD Magazine artists will gather in a weekend long celebraion of their work at MAD. The upcoming event of the National Cartoonist’s Society event in Savannah Georgia will have special rates for members at the Courtyard Savannah Marriott Hotel.

Rooms start at $119 and are available from 11-10-2011 through 11-14-2011.
You must reserve by 10-27-2011 to take advantage of this special rate.



9 Responses to “ChatAbout Bits”

  1. on 24 Sep 2011 at 8:10 am 1.Stephen Macquignon said …

    A link to more scary EFX done by Marvel

  2. on 24 Sep 2011 at 12:36 pm 2.Paul Spector said …

    You are NOT in the twilight of your career.

  3. on 24 Sep 2011 at 1:23 pm 3.Bill Benzon said …

    Thanks for the link, Micael.

    “One commenter suggested that the early Disney stuff will someday look like garbage in comparison to what’s being done.”

    Well . . . The T-Rex in Fantasia is as good as any dinosaur on screen in the Jurassic Park‘s. It’s different, certainly, but just as powerful. And the color in that episode is marvelous. And then there’s Tytla’s Chernobog, who obviously beats the pants off any CGI monster. I’m quite sure I’m not deluded in saying these things. The quality’s there on the screen and isn’t just a figment of a nostalgic imagination.

    That quality’s not going to die. I’m pretty sure the old cartoons will stay around. It may be that only aficionados will watch them, but then that’s pretty much the case most classic literature and music as well.

    I haven’t the foggiest idea of what will become of the living craft. I’d sure like to see traditional cel animation survive, but it’s hard to be optimistic. But I’m not sure CGI can make it purely on a handful of lavish ‘event’ productions, on the one hand, and a pile of cheap hack work OTOH. The whole ecology is film is changing and it’s hard to see how that will work out.

  4. on 25 Sep 2011 at 12:37 am 4.Oscar Solis said …

    Interesting comments about drawing. In one of the last posts for my blog I mentioned that I was going back to creating all future work by hand and not creating images with the computer.

    There’s just something about cgi as used by the majors that I just don’t like. Hand drawing has a magical quality. I love how My Dog Tulip and Good Morning (although drawn with a computer program) breathe with the personality of the animators. I remember when I first saw Abel’s Island (I love that film) and just marveled at the personality of the drawings. I can’t and don’t want to imagine it as a CGI film, ala Pixar or Dreamworks (can you imagine the major attitude that that the characters would display as well). I even love it when I see a Weston Woods film using kinestasis because it displays the drawing so well.

    Drawing is magical. Anyone who needs the proof merely needs to pull out a pencil and paper and draw a picture in front of people. It’s truly one of the few times when a person can actually create magic.

    I don’t animate (one needs a certain level of patience and I don’t have it, regretfully, although I probably could do a short project using the kinestasis method)) but I’d be sad if hand drawing, whether on paper or done in a computer, ala Paul Fierlinger were to disappear.

  5. on 25 Sep 2011 at 8:46 am 5.John Celestri said …

    Michael: I think that computer generated animation will lose its grip on the young generation that follows the present one. Creative trends always go in cycles. I look at hand drawn animation as jazz music…the old masters are never tiring to listen to…and there will be a rediscovery and appreciation of those animators who can (using nothing but pencil and paper) make animation “sing”. I intend to be there (and making traditional 2D animated films) when that happens.

  6. on 25 Sep 2011 at 1:47 pm 6.Courtney DiPaola said …

    Any advice for a pencil animator at the very beginning of their career? It is daunting with so little hand drawn animation being done, because it is not entirely clear where I should go to continue learning and developing.

  7. on 25 Sep 2011 at 2:06 pm 7.Michael Sporn said …

    Just keep doing it, keep doing it. Study every piece of animation you think is good. Frame by frame is something you have at your availability with DVDs. Try to understand what makes for a good piece of animation. When you’re ready to work for someone try to find a studio that does do hand-drawn animation and keep applying to them over and over. You have to get in when the time is right, and that’s just lucky timing. Of course, your portfolio and/or reel should be good too. (That’s why I say to keep doing it – practice makes perfect.)

    Keep in mind that Bill Plympton never worked for anyone other than himself. Though I’m not the biggest fan of his films, I find him inspirational in the drive and the talent behind his work. You can certainly do what he’s done.

  8. on 26 Sep 2011 at 7:56 am 8.Greg Kelly said …

    In reference to the subject line: Surely, some screenwriter somewhere is already at work with creating a Jane Austiin adaptation featuring hillbilly vampires.

    This is how far off of the cliff our Wile E. Coyote Pop Culture has fallen. (and, yeah. I know the irony of that sentence.)

    We are deeply into a self-referential culture these days. We have taken commercialization so much for granted that so-called creative people think that
    directly piggy-backing on existing franchises and existing properties is the only way to go. The reason why: it makes money. That’s cool. People have to eat. It is better for Jim Davis to employ legions to make his products than to reap fewer rewards for himself. But, still, there’s a lot of crap that is made and will be made because it has a chance of making someone wealthy.

    So, you might be right that computer advances will yield mocapped Daffy Duck performances but I think that many advances won’t overshadow or make hand drawn
    cartoons or animation obsolete.

    I’ve long held that cartoonists, not illustrators who draw simple drawings, but cartoonists are visual artists who have a definite sensibility. That is what makes cartoons something special.

    Those sports cartoonists from the early 1900s who did visual stories/ gag cartoons for newspapers told tales which even the best sports writers couldn’t or would not be able to tell. Their sensibilities are put to the forefront of what they made. I think the same can be said of films Frank Tashlin directed, too. While I can’t say that some people have the sensibility and just don’t do cartoons, it is rarer than most probably think. For every John Updike who wrote instead of drew there was someone like Norman Rockwell or some filmmakers (I wanna say Hitchcock) who could work visually and still relay the cartoony aspects of life. And, they did it rather well.

    The one thing I believe is missing from the worst stuff made is that it is a simple failure to understand that cartoons are all about people. It doesn’t matter if it is a dot and a line or dancing hippos in tutus, or a love triangle between a cop dog, a ditzy cat and a nefarious mouse, it is all about people. The artists who get that are cartoonists…at heart, I guess. It is because in order to point out the absurdity of Life there’s one language that nails it every time out: cartoons.

    People who aren’t predisposed to that sensibility miss the point of why they make what they attempt to make and they don’t realize how the language, and its dialects, often facilitate what is said. I won’t name names. But, I’ve seen some illustrators who aren’t as good as what they are trying to do. I’ve seen features that miss the marks, too. I’ll say this, unequivocally, it takes a certain type of editor to
    understand editing animation…if it truly needs to be edited at all. Not all hands can dive in and that is the one great hope of animation, of cartoons, of comics.

    There’s gonna be lackluster stuff. But, there’s been lackluster stuff made by fans of the mediums for years. The good ones, the ones who have a knack will always be around. They, like we, know how to channel the craziness. Being a prankster, a trickster, ridiculing with pictures and investing copious amounts of time into drawing knowing people will spend even less time taking it in. Trying to make things that speak without puppeteers being in the room or having a voice track….cartoons are a specific third thing that isn’t easily faked. That is because of those who make them and what the end result is about. People.

    But, to tell anyone who isn’t a cartoonist that and you’ll get someone who will say, I can do satire. What they actually mean is that they can be sarcastic. That’s a difference maker. I’m not saying I’m good or great or even passable. I just know ways in which I can best articulate my humor and some notions. And, I know I like drawing the ways I do.

  9. on 27 Sep 2011 at 5:18 pm 9.Burt said …

    Hi Michael,

    Any more information on the “Mad Weekend” in Savannah? Google searches come up empty and the National Cartoonist’s Society page is no help.



Trackback This Post | Subscribe to the comments through RSS Feed

Leave a Reply

eXTReMe Tracker
click for free hit counter

hit counter