Short Essay # 1
In Richard Neupart’s essay “Colour, Lines, and n***s”, Neupart discusses how much of Donald Graham’s instructional night classes contributed to the development of Disney’s realistic detail in their animations. Neupart goes on to show how graham’s instructions not only conveyed a sense of realism in Disney’s work, but help pioneer techniques that would focus on the essence of the object and not the object itself. This focus on realistic proportions, depth, and motion while focusing on the essence of the object over form is undoubtly what made Disney special. And a lesson modern animators could learn.
How many C.G.I. based films seem to have their characters floating or performing in a void, deprived of all physics. Most of them that blend C.G.I. with live action do, as Transformers demonstrate for us. With the robots, small details of shadow, implication of weight, and even small nuisances of movement are often ignored in order to maintain faithful replications of the predecessors or toy line, often at the hindrance to credibility and overall presentation.
It is a credit to our C.G.I. animators to bring the Transformers to life in a desert, as they did in the second Transformers movie. But when the Autobots (good guys) are fighting the Decepticons (bad guys), often there is nothing to indicate a fight. No tuffs of sand as these machines stomp through the desert, no shadow when a Decepticon strands triumphant over an Autobot and no care to movement and sense of repose—the transformers move swiftly, but seemed not to mind the consequence of gravity should one of them trip and fall. Silly to think about, but things that Graham stressed in his classes, with his emphasis on connection points between shadows, how figures carry their weight, and natural movement. Despite being about gigantic, transforming robots, Transformers would have benefitted from Graham’s lessons and would have helped add a sense of realism to the robots. Even a his lessons on colour application would have been welcomed, as many of the fight scenes would turn into wild blurs of motion and sand, lacking definition of what was important and wasn’t important.
So in short, Graham’s style would still be relevant to today’s market place as films like Transformers would benefit from an increased awareness of physical motion and special immediacy. This is especially true as we blend C.G.I. with live action in increasingly more and more quantities. Plus, Graham’s lessons on capturing color and essence would benefit a C.G.I animator, as they would be able to understand the intentions of the director better and not merely create the desired animation, but evoke the feel of the animation. This in turn would give C.G.I. animation a more distinguished touch, as animators would focus on important parts over unimportant parts of the animation and we wouldn’t be left with just a blur of movement and sand.
Short Essay #4:
In Chuck Jones’ article he discusses how colours of Animations should be influenced by the accompany soundtrack and how sound should marry the visual images on the scene to the sounds from the speakers. He provides examples of how sound and music can influence the shape and for each genre of animation what sound could do to enhance the overall quality of the animation. At the end of the article, he draws examples and ask readers to identify what sound these examples would make—no matter how abstract the drawing, Jones pushes that all animation should have a soundtrack to it. And this field of animation, the field of sound and music, should be explored more.
And Mr. Jones is absolutely right, as What’s Opera Doc demonstrates how quality soundtrack can greatly enhance the gags behind an animations. Even without knowing the classical references, the soundtrack of What’s Opera Doc fits in a way that makes sense for a faux Norse epic between Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Even Disney acknowledges the power of sound, as their Donald Duck Short Der Feurer’s Face would not be as funny if it were not for the timing between the tititular song and the gags. Specifically, when Donald Duck is making shells, that scene would only be remember for a Donald screaming “Hail Hitler” if it were not for the rhythm of the workload matching the rhythm of the song and the increasing punishments Donald must endure as the song progresses. Mr. Jones is absolutely right when he says that music and sound make an animated feature.
And he is absolutely right in asserting (albeit, indirectly) that music and sound will break an animation. The best example of this would be the Alligator in All Dogs Go to Heaven. All though the film is an acclaimed movie in it’s own right, it does have an infamous scene with a big lipped, singing alligator. The scene is when the main characters are trapped in the sewere and have to confront said alligator in order to escape. Aside from the non-sensical nature of an alligator in a sewer (from a lightly toned, yet serious movie about the afterlife), the disparity between the music song and the animation is so great that it breaks the viewer’s willing suspension of disbelief. It is the ultimate example of how sound and music can affect a viewing experience in a negative way, as it is a scene that the song neither lines up with the overall tone of the movie nor improves the movie in any way.
Ultimately, Mr. Jones is right and music is as much a part of animation as colouring is. It would be fair to say that music is the colouring of the ears, as Der Feurer’s Face, What’s Opera Doc, and All Dogs Go to Heaven demonstrate. Even the silent era had an accompanying orchestra/pianist in the theater, so it would be safe to say that music makes animation the delight it is and drives it’s popularity today.
1. Persistance of Vision: The theory on how the illusion of motion in films is achieved. Specifically, how an afterimage persist for one-twenty-fifth of a second and is the reason why humans do no see the black spaces between each frame, as the afterimage of the previous frame is currently occupying our vision for that short amount of time.
2. Pencil Test: A movie made from the original and often quite rough artist drawings. Made to illustrate what the artist’s animations will look like before they are inked, painted, and finalized.
3. Pixilation: The use of footage (and not cartoons) to achieve animation. Often this is done with human actors, one picture at a time, and is use not as smooth as traditional animation. The technique demonstrates that not all animation needs to be cartoon animation.
4. Rotoscoping: The process and technique of filming a live actor and then taking the film slide by slide and drawing over the actor to create an animated character with realistic range of motion and behavior in terms of movement. Pioneered by the Fleischer brothers, this technique has the weakness of being restricted by the natural range of motion of the actor.
5. Storyboards: A form of organizing that uses basic drawings and visuals to display the intent and sequencing of the animators.
6. Replacement Anmation: Animation that uses multiple puppets or parts of puppets for each action desired. The best example would be a puppet that needed to go from happy to sad to angy to happy again. Each of one of those moods and every part of the transition in between the moods would have a different face that would simply be swapped off and on the puppet for each frame.
7. Cut-Out Animation: Animation that uses flat characters and backgrounds that are cut from paper, fabrics, or photographs.
8. In-Betweening: The drawings between the key frames which help create the illusion of motion.
9. Go Motion: Made for the Star Wars movies, go motion is a type of stop-motion animation that uses motion blur with each frame. This is accomplished by taking a picture of the object when it is moving and incorporating those picture frame by frame into the animation.
10. Limited-Animation: Animation made by the re-use of frame during common parts of the animated feature. Often done as a money saving and time saving procedure. Limited animation is hallmarked by repeated movements or scenes during an animated feature.
11. Rubber hose animation: A style of animation that gives characters limbs without articulation. The lack of joints and presence of long, flowing curves often lends a “rubber hose” look to the animation.
12. Multiplane: A technique used to create non-stereoscopic three-dimensional effects in animation. Pioneered by Disney, this is done by having the camera on top of a stand and multiple planes each containing a frame of animation, spaced out and stacked on top of each other.
13. Key Frames: The drawings that help smoothly transition animations from one frame to another by defining the starting and ending points of that niamation.
14. Setback: A miniature set on a round table that the Fleischers could spin around to create the illusion of three-dimensional animation. Animation was accomplished by putting the animation on a plane, placing the plane before the turn table, and taking a picture with each turn of the table.
15. Cel: Short for Celluloid, it is a transparent sheet on which paintings or drawings are placed for hand drawn animation.
16. Walk Cylce: A series of frames that display the movement of a character whil walking.
17. Pinboard Animation. Animation made by pins and moving those pins in and out of a screen by pressing on the pins. Has the advantage of being able to create depth through positioning of the pins.
18. Motion Blur: The fuzziness left on camera from capturing an object while it is moving and creating a still of that image.
19. Stop Motion Animation: Animation that is made one frame a time through the use of puppets. Each time a movement is done, the animators tediously record the positioning of the movement and take a photoe of the puppet. By compiling the photos together, the animators make frames of the puppet moving, eventually creating animation.
20. Shooting on Twos: The process of drawing motion were creating the illusion of motion is accomplished by drawing a character once for every two frames of film show.
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