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.

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