This is the character sheet for my stone statue of “Budda”, who may actually be a representation of Hotei, but whatever.
And Here is a couple of pre-sheet sketches I did to get a grasp of the figure.
This is the character sheet for my stone statue of “Budda”, who may actually be a representation of Hotei, but whatever.
And Here is a couple of pre-sheet sketches I did to get a grasp of the figure.
Sorry I have not been updating, it’s been getting really crazy around finals but I thought I would do a quick update of what I’ve been up to.
Last night I worked on my Animation Final for class, and even though I did not animate all that I wanted to, I’m still happy with what I have so far. Now I only animated part of my final, the rest is the animatic but over the winter I plan to keep adding to it.
Now speaking of cool animations (Hey, I think my animation is pretty cool) here are some animations I have been watching lately.
Here is a fun short I found on Cartoon Brew and I love it’s story and style! Not to mention the colors are really sweet
Here is another pretty animation with a more “serious” tone, although I did giggle at the one teen/hipster-isk moment where the two main characters turn and stare passively into the horizon. But the music and colors are really sweet in this video!
And to end this blog I’ll leave you with a really weird, funny animation that I’m sure many have seen. But I’ve been jamming out to this song a whole lot during studio for some reason and want to share it.
Over The Sea and Puppets Abound!
Today in Class we went back to Norman Mclaren and watched in full 3 of his most well-known animation.
The syncopation of this video is incredible, every note of this piece gets a shape, form, or action to illustrate the movement of an abstract nature.
This piece was what really made Mclaren’s work known to a wide audience. The narrative of the piece had such wide appeal that it won the approval of the public.
In class we then switched the geography yet again and went across the sea’s to Europe. The craft of animation there was not so studio-ized like the United States, but there were still restrictions on the very content an animation showed. Independents really had a place to learn and practice their craft in a much more personal way, not through the loophole and politics of a studio.
Each country in Europe seamed to have their own style of storytelling through the traditions and craft of their culture. Not to mention the influence politics had upon the content of an animation’s work.
To me this animation’s main theme of the film is centered around the idea of the individual artist against the government and how restricting the content an artist can produce or in this case ordering an artist to do a piece of work against their wil, will end in a very poetic death.
It’s poking fun at the confinement of artist all while still maintaining a beautiful aesthetic quality. Also it has a playful nature in the soul of the puppet, who wants to create pots to protect a beautiful flower he is growing.
Riblie Oko Yugoslavis
This piece’s graphic style is freaking crazy! Not to mention the dark humor used in it is kinda disturbing. I know this piece must to relate once again to the struggle of the country but I do not really get if the fish is a metaphor for masses of the Czech republic or what.
Zbigniew Rybczynski Poland
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Alright this piece is just astonding on the level of busy craziness this piece presents in detail and keeps throughout most of the piece. And it was all done the manual compositing way! Shooting on film and matching together all these actions, people to perfect timing would be such a huge feat to undergo! As far as narrative goes I’m not sure what I can make out story wise, but it all seems to fit together and be plausible in that one setting.
At this point in class we started talking about how animation can be extremely global. “Movement is the one language that can not lie.” Animations can be shared around the world for animations are a global dialogue! But this being said each country (as I said before) has it’s own voice, tradition and tools/levels of craft within that culture. Puppet making has it’s own context with other cultures, as it is a traditional craft from used long before animation came around and was used in theaters.
China’s animations are full of their country’s traditions, culture and the influence of their geographical location (bamboo is used in a later animation to build the characters). In American animations it’s the process that really influences the art. The leading inventive forward spirit creates new and better inventions to cut down on the process time, the craft is really ever changing.
This principal basically boils down to the fact that Old Countries = Craft/ Cultural Tradition.
RUSSIA (was USSR)
In Russian not only was their tradition and culture influencing their animation, but around this time Russia (then the USSR) was in a constant race with other countries- specifically America. The space race competition translated well into animation, and the Russian government promoted the production of films in order to compete with America’s animated history. But since these animations were commissioned by the government, it meant that each one was very controlled by the state and the animators were left to work with what they had and their craft.
Hedgehog in the Fog
The is a very important film to Russian stop-motion history, not only is it a visual ascetic achevment, but it’s story can relate to the struggle of Russia. What that direct relation is I’m not sure of though.
Passion of Spies
This animation is playing off of the amount of spy movies around this time, all dealing with the Space Race, Arm’s Race, and Cold War. But it’s humor definitely strikes me, even though I was at first scared by the creepy man getting his teeth worked on in the beginning.
Night of the Carrots
This animation really shows the odd sense of humor that Estonia has even though their country was severally oppressed and overrun.
Now talking about countries being oppressed by their government, China is the case in point with their early control of the content of animations. Today it’s much less restricted, but as you can see by the short films I could find, their content was limited back in the day to be more of a continuation of their craft traditions. Especially Deer and Bull which was made with a medium (bamboo) that was closely infused with their environment and culture.
A Da 36 Characters (could not find a video online)
Deer & Bull
Cat & Rat (could not find video online)
Te Wei & Qjan Jiajun
Dneynik (Zagreb Studios)
Journal, 1974 (could not find video online)
Then to transtition into our next class period we watched a Documentary on Ray Harryhausen who was an amazing stop-motion special effects and character animator who worked in Hollywood.
Here is a link to some of his work (just google videos)
He made the imaginable possible in film, making dinosaurs, missing links, monsters, and skeletons come alive on the big screen.
This class was all about the other side of animation history, the side often looked over since the people involved in it were not 100% a part of the studio system that had taken over most animations.
This class was about the independent animators that experimented to expand the definition of what the cinema was. They were making non-objective art that related to fine art and expression than just pure storytelling.
The First video we watched was Walter Ruttmann’s Lichtspeil Opus I
His work along with many other experimental animators (which I will talk about in a bit) payed homage to art history and the fine art being created during their time. The movements in art played a definite role to help shape the break from tradition these animators did. Surrealism, Dada, Futurist, and Abstract expressionism all lead way to true expression of the animator and just pure experimentation.
Walter’s work was about pure movement of shapes, lights and shadow to the synchronization of music, which is called Synesthesia. It’s the connection of imagery to music, the idea of having an animation be a expression of the musical note and having that musical note represented in a visual form. The work of
This topic of music and animation synchronization lead to talk of music videos which have a much longer history than the start of the MTV and rock bands. In fact our class discussed how MTV took a lot of material from independent animators and tried to package it as something new, and ended up turning all of this experimental animations expressing thought into a commodity.
But we then shifted gears (kinda) and watched some pieces by Hans Richter:
And Ghosts for Breakfast
With these Hans was really showing movement in his work and how the juxtaposing of images one after another effected the content and meaning an audience saw in the final combination of all those images. This is seen clearly in Ghost for Breakfast where the film is more of a collage of surrealist imagery that together combine to sort of build a narrative around “ghostly” acts. The collaging of imagery really made the audience find relationships between the images within the context of the video and forces them to view an image in a new way in relation to the images around it.
In Rhythm 23 Hans was doing about the same thing Walter was doing, trying to show visual interpretations of music through form and movement, but he tackled it in his own way. With these very abstract images each frame is like an abstract painting, a new way of expressing the self and letting the pure idea emerge from the self.
This idea of a Non-objective structure to animation was continued by the work of Viking Eggeling:
We watched Symphonie Diagonale
In this piece Viking is using shapes that can not be recognized, he is deconstructing the sounds of music into shapes. Like Walter and Hans he is using the music as the driving force of the film’s motion and slight narrative. Although he is playing with the audience’s expectation of a film to tell a story. Why does a film have to tell a narrative story when it can show expression through shape, form, color and motion? The states were really to blame for turning animation into a comity, they wanted consumers for a product. In Europe the focus on animation was not so much consumerist, but more geared towards expression of one’s self and to be involved more so with the fine art world.
Yet what these independent animators were always doing was experimenting, which brings me to the next figure-head we talked about, Len Lye.
In Len’s works he is experimenting by scratching, coloring and messing around on actual film. He was the sort of start of motion graphics by his commercials and personal work. His use of color and form appealed to the senses and his animations often had a slight narrative form.
We watched a TV Interview with him from 1960 and he was deadly serious of his craft and it shows throughout his work and personal attitude. What must be said about Len is that he truly pushed capturing motion and form through his animations.
The main titles of Scott Pilgrim VS The World pay homage to him:
The next big figure head we talked about was Oskar Fischinger:
Here is a link to his works
He often stated that music was itself abstract so his abstract animations used that structure in order to give something to the audience that they could hold on to and associate with. Music was a way in which the medium could communicate through. Much of his work also associates with his personal beliefs in buddist mediation and study.
Compostion in Blue really shows the integration of music and image in a sort of abstract dance. They play off of one another while still standing strong on their own.
With Oskar he really wanted movement to be seen and expressed in his work.
The last player we talked about was Norman McLaren, who I have a personal love and appreciation for. His capturing of movement, his experimentation to capture the sensations of the mind and to actually dive into
We watched a documentary of his life and work, which really showed how much of a bad-ass this guy was. He animated directly onto film, to stop the separation the animation had from the camera. Not to mention that it was all timed to music to once again (like Oskar) use that music as a way to get the audience on board with the movement and abstractness of the animation.
What I really love about Norman McLaren is how much of his personal self is seen in his piece’s. His work was made around the time of Freud and the Surrealist’s so he used animation as a tool to dive into the inner sanctum of his mind and unconscious. The frame by frame add on animation he did really helped that journey and it showed his true following of thought.
UPA and Writing
On Monday’s class we started off taking about the importance of knowing how to write a decent paper, one that clearly states a person’s thoughts and presents valid useful information is a readable way.
Doug recommended Stephen’s King’s book “On Writing” and the associated press guide as helpful resources to use when writing narrative or more formal style papers.
Then as a shift towards animation we listened to Jules Engel on webofstories.com talk about his role in the creation of the UPA and his role as an animator in it.
Also we briefly discussed the Disney strike and what being pissed off at Disney did for animations after the animators left Disney. Fuel by what they hated at Disney and the knowledge they gained from working for Disney allowed animators like Jules Engel and other UPA animators to create amazing works of animation on their own terms. UPA was in short the antithesis to Disney, and lead the way for more independent animation work to get known.
UPA started up right along side the time when Television was introduced into society. T.V. changed the game for animation and pretty much birth the technique of limited animation into the medium. Whenever there is a new technology introduced into animation it creates a new wave of experimentation and technique in the craft, which changes the strict roles that until then completely controlled animation.
Take for example what computers and the Internet have done to animation distribution. Back when animators had no other choice but to go through a distributor they would have to hold their work up to the standards and expectations of the person paying to show their work. With the introduction of the internet there is no 100% strict way to control all methods of distribution so it allows for animators to create works of art that otherwise may never have had the money or chance to get seen by others. There is no more complete control; it’s more of a democracy setting that allows for equality in distribution.
After this discussion we started to watch some UPA shorts (that sadly were viewed at a rather low quality youtube level) and then talked about the formal elements used within the films. The UPA animators were deconstructionists and used this to really make a graphic style in their work.
The Tell-Tale Heart short is a example of how the aesthetics of a piece can establish tone and mood. The backgrounds often several perspectives at once tie in reference to modern art at the time.
In Gerald Mcboing Boing, the characters are held to no real model sheet, their design changes to help enforce their emotion and the minimal background which had not really been seen before animation in the 50s allows the viewer to really interact with the animation by visualizing what’s not there.
We started off class with a more discussion on the studio system. Which I really enjoy and it fascinates me to hear Doug explain his times in the studio setting. It really helps to make a studio job seem much more reachable and able to handle. I’m not so sure if the studio setting is exactly for me, but I would love to try it and being in an environment where my ideas get reflected off of other artist and there is always experimentation and trial and error to figure out what’s the best/fastest way of producing the group project.
The two documentaries we watched in class were very interesting and educational to watch. The Chuck Jones really helped to show how effective timing is in selling a joke and selling an animated action. The level of mastery that man has is extraordinary, every action of the character really goes as far as it possibility can creating this amazing animation that explores the full physics of the character.
What was really nice about the documentary was that it allowed me to see the cartoons I had watched over and over again as a kid in a new light, not just as entertainment, but as an educational tool to help me in my own artistic endeavors. Just knowing that all the key frames were drawn by Chuck Jones in any of the shorts he created really helped me understand what the role of key frame are. They are essentially a road map in which to craft the animation around, they are the skeleton that allows the body of animated work to move around them.
Plus I had never seen the short “Line and Dot” before, and it was truly remarkable the way in which Chuck Jones breathed life into a simple line and dot.
Now the Lotte Reiniger documentary was not just extraordinary for being able to understand how she was able to create her delicate works of animated art, but being able to see the society around her and her life story really put her work into perspective. Not only was she a female artist, but she was the main creative director in all of her work. It was clear that she was not just some woman doing a creative job in a project, but she herself choose her artistic endeavors at whatever cost it would be to herself. Her later work really shows her dedication to her craft as both her and her husband were working for barely any money, but working to express themselves though a creative outlet.
It was also very nice to see the studio in which one of the first animated films was ever made. It was however a little surprising to see that entire camera fit into that tiny attic above their home, their poor knees must have just hurt forever. But that small studio is giving me inspiration for my new apartment and to hopefully find a way to set up my room to be more art centered and productive.
What have these weeks of animating taught me?
For one, they have made me use structural limits on my art, these limits being proportion, size, in order to properly portray the object I am animating. (especially the human figure!)
I have also seen a change in the way I view time and how it’s played out, this being caused by the sheer act of animating time passing in a believable way. With hand drawing animation I realized how long some actions take, and the number of pages I use with each animation reflect this. If I do not have enough frames I find that the animation goes by very fast, even if each frame is a subtle change from one position to the next. What I’m currently trying to do is to make my animations last longer, which means I need to do more in between to really exaggerate and make the animated action be more natural.
Which brings me to my next discovery, that being that you can never really exaggerate enough in animation (or at least I have not done so yet). Each time I have done an extremely exaggerate key frame, I always though it would be too intense in the end animation, but I often find that the “exaggeration” I made was really subtle. I want to find where the breaking point of exaggeration is so I can find the edge of over and under-exaggertation which will help me with future projects.
Is animation art?
Now this is a tricky question, for there are many to ways to even categorize what art is. To me though art is a expression of the self through the use of a physical (or digital) medium. Whether it be through drawing or writing art is the clear expression of person’s thought.
Now does this make animation art? For me it makes animation art, for animation will clearly tell a person a story, and a story starts out as a though or idea from someone’s head.
What animation is to art is a way to express not only an idea through a medium, but many views of that idea in motion. Animation breaths life and soul into frames of a film, it creates pure imagination on the page. Each frame must be carefully thought about and put into a proper succession or else the end result will be a complicated film that cannot communicate with the viewer.
Yet there is still some parts of animation that make me somewhat question if it is art, the fact that some animation was made to suit an industry. I am speaking of the animations that were producted for the sake of being made, the one’s almost formulated to make an end profit. Can one still consider these art? Or are they just another commodity mass produced for the public?
To answer this one must question how well these “factory-line” animation stand up to the test of time. Personally, without this course in animation history I wonder if my own personal love and curiosity towards animation would have led me to view these works, or would I have skipped them to view the greater masterpieces of that time?
For art in the end is always facing the test of time, if the piece truly reflects the thoughts and events of the time, then it will hold meaning and stay as a pillar stone of that time and a part of history.
Animation to me has withstood that test of time and has influenced so much, that I repeat:
Animation is Art.
He was born on September 26, 1869 and from an early age he was constantly drawing. This impulse to draw was suggested by some online sources (http://www.vegalleries.com/winsorbio.html) to be a way of battling his internal drawing demons. Now while looking up McCay I found out that a lot of his surrealist images and subject matter in his comics came from his hobbies as a younger man (17-19), his trips to the circus and vaudeville acts definitely influenced his personal style and topic of art.
Now McCay got his artistic career started in Cincinnati, where he was a “scenic artist” for Philip Morton, this job was to produce posters for the sideshow attraction in Morton’s Dime Museum. From this job he got journalistic gigs making por-democrat political cartoons (what’s strange is that Winsor McCay’s political affiliations were never really know), which ended up getting his work out into the magazine business and soon McCay was invited up to New York to work for Bennett’s Evening Telegram and the New York Herald.
It was in New York where McCay got started on his comic series, though at first he collaborated with Bennett on some series for the Evening Telegram, he eventually started on Little Sammy Sneeze and Hungry Henrietta which were run in the New York Herald.
But the real treasures of Winsor McCay’s comic life were Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland, these two successes lead the way for the rest of Winsor McCay’s career. His career included touring with Vaudeville acts, doing animations (such as Little Nemo, Gertie the Dinosaur, The Sinking of the Lusitania, and The Flying House).
Towards the end of his career Winsor McCay left Bennett for Hearst (1911) where he continued with his Little Nemo in Slumberland series, and also did daily political cartoons and large Sunday drawings. Winsor McCay also worked on some advertising art (anonymously) before his sudden death on July 26, 1934. (Stroke)
For me it’s so interesting to see the effect Winsor McCay’s influences had on him, the many trips to the circus and countless vaudeville acts he went to and participated in all seem to have a direct link to his strips. Whether they were a visual link or a humour-type of link, it’s interesting to see those influences really strike out.
“What similarities do you see between the early part of the 20th century and modern day?”
It’s almost uncanny how the both the 20th century and modern day are alike. One of the major similarities is the fact that both era’s are/were in the middle of a huge technological upsurge, the 20th century was forming the staple technologies that the modern day is trying to advance even further. Some of these technologies were industrial, such as factories, cars, and others were more entertainment centered, like the invention of film, photographs, and projection devices that allowed film and animations to be played in front of a large audience.
The most astounding similarity to me for both of these era’s is the fact that both had the erge and drive to go forth and create all these new technologies. Neither had any inclination to sit down and stay at the level of technology they were at. In the 20th century people kept pushing cinema and animation technologies further and further, with each director and artist use what technology was known at the time and yet expanding that technology in order to get the finish product they wanted.
I just hope that our era will not make the same mistake that the 20th century did for animation, I hope that our era will make animation a art, not a trade.