Friday, December 30, 2011

The Direction of Animation as of 2011

There is yet another (but insightful) article and debate about the future of animation, cartooning and filmmaking in general at Cartoon Brew.

Not going to get into that debate here but it did bring to mind that despite all the things CG animation is praised for what it can do, it's interesting how much little attention is given to what it's not doing. Or rather how the medium is not being maximized nor fully exploited.

"Realism"seems to be the mantra of CG animation. To that I answer, "so what"? The computer can do so much, literally anything. However, it seems more attention is put on "replicating" life, rather than reinterpreting it. I liked Kung Fu Panda 2, but seeing all down to the little taste-buds in Po's tongue while he's screaming in 3D fails to impress me. At least the way it was done.

I remember a similar shot from John Kricfalusi's Spumco, Inc.'s animation on the Ren and Stimpy show. In that case, artists exploited that shot by ruthlessly caricaturing the sores, mis-colorations, and critters found on the character's tongue.

My point is there seems to be more editorial done in the process of hand-drawn animation rather than in CG animation. Not that it can't be done, but (correct me if I'm wrong) it just isn't being done. It seems producers are so wrapped up in technology, dazzling audiences with photo-realistic cartoons, they are overlooking the simplest points in getting a reaction from audiences. Just creating a photo-realistic image is not enough.

Since cartoons have proven to be a multi-billion dollar business there is more financial pressure on studios to minimize risks and losses. In that kind of ginger-footed environment, could a Tex Avery of CG animation be born?

Chuck Jones' 1963 short film "Now Hear This" is a perfect example of the editorial that hand-drawn just tends to inherently do. "Now Hear This", simple as it is, was a lot more entertainingly experimental than a lot of things in CG recently. It's not that CG can't do these things, it's just that unfortunately as of December 31st 2011, we don't see it being done enough.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

John Carter of Japan

Excited to see animation directors Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird taking their aim at live action.

Films are marketed differently in Japan for obvious reasons. The "desperate to get the teenage-male demographic" for Disney's, "Tangled" was still titled "Rapunzel" here in Japan. The idyllic fairy tale paradigm still goes over quite well in here.

That might be the reason why "The Dark Knight" had disappointing financial results in Japan. The general consensus was that it was, well....dark. Japan's mainstream moviegoers don't really see being "jaded" or "edgy" as attractive a virtue as in the USA.

Nitpicking, but I wish they kept the "John Carter of Mars" title for the Japan release of Disney's John Carter. The Japanese coming attraction reveals a lot more about the plot than the USA versions. My only questions is what was John Carter doing in New York? I thought he was a Confederate from Virgina.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Little Inspiration

A photo I took on Shichigosan Day. I love the kid in the back. He almost looks like an animated caricature.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy 110th Uncle Walt -The Greatest Artist To Draw Without a Pencil

It's a day late here in Tokyo, but December 5th, 2011 marks what would have been Walt Disney's 110th birthday.

This is not Disney-phile rhetoric, but Walt Disney was a great man. In my Disney history snobbery I've said too much about his drawbacks: his attitudes towards people of color and women, his business policies, his *cough*, draftsmanship.

But none of that is really important ultimately.

Even the people who had reservations about Walt quickly admit he was brilliant and his contributions to the institution of film (and yes, world culture), immeasurable.

As I like to say, Walt was greatest artist to draw without the use of a pencil.

Cartoon Brew has a worthwhile link and note to his birthday, here.