Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Critical Studies Lecture - Animation: The History of

DATE: 05.06.13

  • Why animate? :

We’re using the same techniques as those who have come before.  It is only the tools which have changed.
Our work is taking place in time.  It brings still images into another dimension
Sometimes this isn't a good thing.

Drawings that walk and talk and think seeing a series of images we've done actually go through a thinking process - and appear to be thinking – is the real aphrodisiac plus creating something that hasn't been seen before.
High-tech (James Cameron’s Avatar, Rooster Teeth’s Red vs. Blue) vs. low tech (Classic Disney)

  • From the Animators survival kit (1):

The earliest animations
Egyptian pillars – each pillar is different but the movement of this the characters could only be appreciated on horseback.
Grecian urns (2) - Spinning the pot seems to make figures move.
Athanasius Kircher (1600) - First images projected onto a wall via a magic lantern.
The wheel of life – a toy that used optics.  24 still images in a circle which spins around and creates the illusion of movement (3) as technology progressed the wheel of life evolved into flip book.
Although we are jumping ahead slightly it is worth mentioning that Walt Disney pioneered animation boards that lifted from the bottom where before they were lifted from the top and forced the animator to stop and use the drawing hand to do so.  It doesn’t sound like much but it did serve to make the animation process a little bit faster (4)
Emile Reynaud, 1877 – Designs/images drawn onto ‘crystaloid’
1906 Humorous phases of funny faces
Winsor McCay – Pioneered the personality driven animation which was the beginnings of cartoon individuality and the breaking of the fourth wall which is animations interacting with humans.
How a mosquito operates. (1912)

Gertie the Dinosaur 1914

  • Modern Day:

Interactive installations allow people to directly interact with the images.  Moving sidewalks, escalator pianos etc.)
Different art styles affect animation visually – Fantasia 2000 looks different to Fantasia which looks different to Allegro Non Troppo even though all three cover the same subject matter which is animation set to classical music.

Flash animation shows how moving images are developed on a layer system quite well, i.e. an arm moves while the body, a different layer, remains still.  This doesn't just happen in flash of course but with all the amateur stuff out there it’s easier to spot even if you don’t exactly know what you’re looking for.

The reason it looks wrong to our eye is because we don’t ever just move one part of our bodies (5).  In reaching out to pick something up we’re bending from the hip, the shoulder, and even the fingers.  If you want to create believable animation then this should all be taken into account as long as you don’t forget that anticipation, exaggeration and preparation also play a part along with squashing and stretching. Fortunately in these modern times the computer does a lot of the in-between work so we can focus on the important things like collecting the royalties for our work (6)

  1. An excellent book which I highly recommend.
  2. About $2.50 an hour.  If you get this joke then I tip my hat to you good sir
  3. A very primitive example of this can be seen in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.  I mention this only because it’s been a while since I've watched Johnny Depp in something where he isn't a pirate.
  4. Of course having said that I can’t actually find the reference for it however if it is anywhere it’s going to be in the book “Disney animation: The illusion of life.”
  5. Except that you did just now to prove me wrong.
  6. This paragraph was intentionally made as unhelpful and confusing as possible

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