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> Animation in all its glory, A converstaion devoted to all aspects of animation.
Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Apr 27 08, 06:29
Post #1


Hi shaggy breeks here, I am an animation student in England at the moment and as such figured a topic devoted to this art form would indeed be a nice idea. mickeymouse.gif

So here goes . . .

I believe animation is not an art form but like writing a form of magic. Animation can make audiences laugh, cry, feel joy and sadness and envoke a whole myriad of other emotions. It can imply or express messages and meanings. But above all it can literally take a willing audience into another world entirely. And like writing and storytelling, all of these wonders are crafted from the most basic of tools. Words and pictures.

The fact that people are willing to believe and relate to a group of words or a drawing is not at all logical, it is then 'magic'. The magic that is the imagination and the power of the mind to be open to all possibilities.

The best example i have recently seen in the animation field is the film ratatouille by pixar animation studios.

For those who have not seen the film i shall endevour to review and analyse it for you.

In the mean time i would love to hear from like minded people or even people who cannot stand the animated film. It will be interesting to hear others views and beliefs.

thanks for reading

Shaggy breeks

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The story begins in Rural France following the story of a young rat named Remy. He is, amongst his peers and his family, a few crumbs short of a complete biscuit.
He was born with an incredible sense of smell that eventually leads him on a grand adventure in pursuit of his elusive dream. To become a world famous chef and to create food that will warm the hearts and souls of his audience. Only two things stand in his way. The cruel judgement of the food critic Anton Igor. And the fact that to the humans he wishes to touch with his creativity, he is a rat.

The film itself is a visual feast for the eyes. It is suttle but spectacular. The Rural household for example, at the beggining of the film, is detailed to the point of wanting to reach out and pick the dandelions in the cottage garden. Paris meanwhile is portrayed as a city of light and heart. Every detail from the majesty of the eiffel tower to the water marks on the inside of the parissiene sewers is treated with the same respect and care. It is a huge leap forward then in terms of the capabilities of computer generated animation.
I feel the biggest achievement in particular though, was the ability to portray a working kitchen realistically. The steam from a cooking pot, rising in swirls and then floating to the side as someone walks past it. The sporadity and liveliness of a flambe dinner whilst it is being prepeared. The bubbles in the oil at the bottom of a pan as the onions sizzle. Not only is it a observational and technological masterpiece but it creates a belief that what you are seeing is real. You can almost smell the soups as they simmer on their hobs.

The narrative is of course excellent. But that is to be expected from a company that uses the slogan 'story! story! story!' It is common knowledge that Pixar will not release a film until they feel it is the best it can be storywise. Despite this however there are moments in the film when you feel yourself wanting to press the fast forward button. It does in effect drag in a number of scenes. A good example of this would include the 'coming of inheritance' scenes concerning Remy the Rats human counterpart, Linguini. This is eventually countered at the end of the film though, by a series of scenes that are, for lack of a word to justify them, superb. Definately worth the wait.

The character animation as well is on occasion lacking as much heart and soul as you come to expect from a classic Disney Pixar Film. There is a long standing tradition in Disney and Pixar that every character, no matter how far back in the overall mix, deserves just as much attention to detail as the main character. It is unfortunate that this film seems to have broken from tradition. Weather due to budgeting or scheduling it is difficult to say but it is noticible on subsequent veiwings.
However despite this the animation on the main characters is better than could have been expected from this studio. Not only do the characters have heart and soul, but they are humurously made. It is also clear that their back stories have been thoroughly debated and polished. Which means that any motive or action is instantly justified in the eyes of the audience.

Overall then the film Ratatouille is a phenomenal piece that will delight and please audiences of all ages and walks of life. It misses short of my 10/10 rating by a small fraction because of the defficiencies expressed earlier. But still, for a pixar movie it is hard to expect that this film could have been bettered in the production time alotted. With this in mind i have but only to say 'thank you' too Pixar studios and all the people who were involved for allowing a young animation student keep his faith in the magic that is the animated film.

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Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Apr 28 08, 05:04
Post #2


Hi again, mr shaggy breeks here to once more express his wide eyed wonder at the power and majesty of animation. :D woooo pinkpanther.gif

Id like to raise a point that has been sailing towards me a lot recently.

It is evidentaly clear that the animation industry has thoroughly embraced the medium of CGI. Pixar and Dreamworks lead the way with outstanding contributions to the history of animation with efforts such as Shrek and Toy Story respectively. This medium has many advantages, it can create seamless lines of movement, and the level of detail is incomparable.

However animating in a computer does not mean that you should not learn to animate and draw by hand first. Just because a computer can do some of it for you doesn't mean it should.

I have quite recently been asked. "Graeme, why do you spend hours a day doodling and making cartoons and learning how to animate by hand? No one does hand drawn animation anymore, even Disney."
That is a very good question which i shall endevour to explain.

Firstly a computer can indeed animate a character for you if you so wish, there could be no artistic input what so ever and you could create a reasonable suspension of belief. But that is exactly the point . . . 'no artistic input'. When you watch a classic Chuck Jones cartoon from Warner Bros you will be blown away by the level of suttle acting and humour that the animator puts into the characters. A good example would include the Looney Toons cartoon 'Bully for Bugs'.

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The cartoon is only 7 minutes long and yet in such a short space of time you learn so much about the Bull. A character who cannot even talk. . . How is this possible? Because instead of creating perfect lines of movement in the fashion of the computer the respective animator is taking liberties with reality and instead acting.

I quote from Andreas Deja (character animator for disney) at cannes film festival in france. As he walked onto the stage of the recruitment area. There where hundreds of students all with discs full to the brim with computer animated work. He stood up and said to them all.
"I would firstly like to say, I dont care how good you are with computer animation, as long as you can draw and bring a character to life, we will hire you." You can imagine the state of the audience. The countless looks of dismay as they realised there work was not to scratch.

I conclude with this statement then. It is all well and good getting a machine to build a car for you. But what happens if the machine goes wrong? if the car is made by a machine wont the car look the same as everyone elses car? Where will the self satisfaction come from? The same applies to animation. Learn the artform first and then use the computer to make life easier. Dont let the computer stifle your full creative potential by never actually learning how to bring a character to life.

Well that is my rant for today :D hee hee
thanks for listening.

shaggy breeks mickeymouse.gif
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post Apr 28 08, 05:32
Post #3

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I recently saw a special on satellite tv about the story of PIXAR. A must see! Actually, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter worked there in '79 as 1/3rd computer division of Lucasfilms (sort of) and they weren't sure they'd make it - then Steve Jobs came in in 1986 after he left Apple with $10 Million in capital - $5M went right to Lucas and the other $5M went into Pixar as capital. PHEW! It was Lasseter's animation division that saved them as they were making some money off commercials that used computer animation. In '91, PIXAR partnered with Disney Studios and Toy Story began production.

Over all, it's not that simple. PIXAR animators still draw/sketch all the story boards by hand, then there are many different animators who in turn work the story into the computer design process. It's all quite fascinating!

We have all the DVDs released from PIXAR animation studios. In fact, we watched Cars and Monster's Inc. overthe weekend again.

Great stuff!
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Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Apr 29 08, 03:41
Post #4


That is a good point cleo hee hee thank you. It is true that they (Ed Ctamull and John Lasseter) both worked for lucasfilm initially but if you delve into the history of john lasseter specifically you will find he was trained classically in animation at Cal arts university and then became an animator at Disney for two years, Alongside brad bird and tim burton before he even touched a computer. He has quite often described his process now as a collaboration of technolgical genius and artistic excellence.

I think the point im trying to raise is that computers are not a bad thing in animation by any stretch of the imagination. I do feel however that they are a tool that can be abused to the detriment of the artist. Something which pixar thus far have been awfully good at avoiding. WOOOO !!

Ooh im glad you enjoyed those movies, they are indeed very good. Best pixar movie for me? hmmm probably Monsters inc :D yer thats a fun film.

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Whilst i am on the subject of Computer animation i would like to present to you the wonder, the majesty that is Final Fantasy.

For those of you who are not aware of what Final Fantasy is, it is a role play game from Japan. The versions we are used to seeing are released by Square Enix, a collaborative company that works with japanese game makers to bring the games to american and european audiences.

The Final Fantasy games series has often been adorned with video sequences that break up the game play. And of course these video sequences are animated.
One game in Particular i would like to draw your attention too is Final Fantasy 10. IT is an amazing story with excellent characterisation, intrigue and narrative. The animations that interject every now and again are also far and away the most accomplished pieces of work i have ever seen. They are not only passionate and soulful in terms of the character animations. They are also colourful, majestic, imaginative, exciting and will ultimately leave its respective audiences breathless. One scene i would like to draw your attention too in particular is the opening scene.


This scene for me has everything going for it. It opens with the solitary sound of water and a solitray heartbeat after which it explodes into an extravaganza of music, mayhem and awe inspired quality. The song is written by the German metal Band Rammstein and sets the piece off nicely, creating a good sense of excitement. The editing in the sports arena is also sporadic and quick, again emphasising the blood pounding speed and agility of the animation.

The main protagonist, 'Tidus', is instantly recognisable as a confident and maybe even a slightly cocky character. This is clear from the way he is animated with a good strong posture, the way he carries himself and his ball and the fact that he is seemingly unphased by what is going on around him. This it turns out is a facade he puts on when he is playing his sport but nonetheless it is done very convincingly.

The mise en scene for this piece is aswell, above and beyond the expected call of duty for the background artists, effects animators and light renderers. It instantly creates a mood that gets torn here and there into something else entirely by the end of the piece.

If i was to pick a few things in particular that really stood out for me, what would they be? The scenes of the excited crowds are particularly of merit, as in some cases it is clear that each member of that crowd has been individually animated rather than animating the crowd as a whole. This is a true commitment to the art form in terms of time management and dedication.
The effects animation is aslo particularly good. Especially seeing as the animation of the water was done almost two years before Pixar had figured out how to make water for their film finding nemo. I love the one section in particular when the water droplets begin to float up towards the being that is attacking the city. I also love the cinematography. Every shot has been carefully thought about and placed for maximum effect. As such you can almost feel the blows of the sports players and you can almost cheer along with the excited crowds as you watch.

In conclusion i am not at all concerned about giving this short two minute piece an un adulterated . . .

thanks for reading,
shaggy breeks :D mickeymouse.gif
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Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Jun 20 08, 13:05
Post #5


hello! :D shaggy breeks here . . . again. It is with a great sense of joy that i now approach this excerpt for my animation board :D

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Does the name of 'Studio Ghibli' ring a bell? If not, then i shall endevour to explain why it should.
Just this morning i recieved a new DVD in the post, i had been waiting a long time and was like an eager child as i ripped off the paper. It was, to my great delight a film called 'my neighbour totoro', directed by hayao miyazaki and made at Studio Ghibli in 1988. It sounds like a strange title and leads you to initially wonder what it could all be about. I guess, in my opinion, the best way to describe it would be the 'winnie the pooh' of japanese cinema. It chronicles the story of a young pair of sisters as they move to the country while their mother recoveres from an illness in hospital. While in the country the two young sisters make the aqquaintence of the local forest spirit, the cuddly and friendly totoro. And from then on the story follows their magical adventures from flying across the country, to growing trees, to waiting for the cat bus.

From this extremely kiddy premise however is a story derived of the heart. It has humour, happiness, sadness, morals. The list goes on. It is not that however that impressed itself upon me the most. Despite the fact that the smiles of these creatures are animated in a slightly creepy way the rest of the animation is suttle and sophisticated beyond measure. I shall use one scene as an example.


This scene has barely any talking whatsoever and yet huge amounts of detail is suggested about the characters. The innocence of little mai, the un ceasing curiosity of the older sister. The slightly lightheaded but wonderful playfulness of totoro, its all there. Not only this however, the comic timing is sublime. It honestly made me laugh at his reaction the rain on the umbrella. The facial expressions suggesting his internal glee at the sounds around him. Finally the mood of the scene is that of a childlike wonder. The scene should be creepy, and yet because of the main protagonist it is fillled instead with an intense sense of amazement.

In conclusion it is a film that is definately worth a watch if you get round to it.
I might also like to add that if you are new to the films of studio ghibli then my neighbour totoro is a good place to start. It is difficult at first to get into the japanese mindset for me, having grown up with very westernised cartoons such as tom and jerry and Disney. This film however nurtures your understanding of their childish world far more effectively than any of their other, sometimes quit deep films.

A brief list of their most famous films include-
my neighbour totoro
spirited away
howls moving castle
princess mononoke
porco rosso
. . . the list goes on.

Well that concludes this installment of my animation world reviews hahaha
back soon with more wonders to behold.
cheers shaggy breeks :D
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Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Jul 9 08, 04:20
Post #6


Today it wis with great pleasure that i decide to bring to you a post devoted to the master Disney animator,

Andreas Deja.

Andreas Deja has been working at Disney now for over 20 years since the production began on the feature film 'The black cauldron'. However his inspiring story does not begin at Disney as you might expect. He was born in Austria in europe far away from the touch of Hollywood animation and in a metaphorical wilderness. He often says that he was alwyas into his comic books as a young boy but his first true encounter with the world of the moving image was with the release of the jungle book in the 60's. He says in a recent interview that he must have gone back and seen that movie atleast ten times before his mum put a stop to it. And living in Austria this was no easy feat, the local cinema was an hour and half train ride away. From that point on his dream was to work for Disney studios and make animated films.

Soon after he wrote to the studios, (with the help of his english teacher) asking what it took for a young aspirer like hiself to make it at disney. He soon got a reply stating that to make it as an animator he would have to make it as an artist. Study humans and life drawing where their instructions. Go to the zoo and draw the animals was their suggestion. And so he did, he spent many days at the local zoo just doodling the animals and studying the visitors. At first he was sceptical about how this would help him draw cartoon characters etc. . . but after the re release of Bambi he understood why he must become proficiant at drawing animal structures and body structures. Because even though Bambi is a cartoon, it is also a very accurate representation of a young deer.
Andreas Deja is reported to have grown up with a less than artistic family, they did like art but it was usually as he put it 'the typical german thing'. A stag standing on cliff with a dramatic sky etc. It was to his parents wonderment and bemusement then that he attended his first life drawing class at the age of 15.
Later in life he met through his highschool art teacher another film fanatic like himself. His art teacher at the time was also bemused by their fascination with film and animation and so recommended they meet up. This new aqquantence was going to germany to study art and film at degree level, and so Andreas Deja did the same. He moved to Germany with his new friend and studied fine art for 4 years. He didnt forget his dreams of course and in his spare time studied animation literally and also analytically now that the vhs had brought accesibility to all of these animated films. One day whislt he was at uni, he stumbled upon a book in a second hand shop that was all about the art of animation. At the time it was very rare for such books to exsist and so he treasured it. There was also a section in the back talking about a Disney training program for new up and coming animators.

This if course distracted him completely and upped his enthusiasm once more to get in touch with Disney studios about it. And so once more he sent a letter, asking this time about the Disney training program. He was lucky enough to get a response soon after from none other than Eric Larson himself. One of the famous 9 old men of Disney studios. . . to be continued :p
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