I have the feeling that Disney runs away from its own stylistic potential. As in Bolt, the innovative bold brush-styles that Disney has developed get pressed into smooth surfaces that are practically run-of-the-mill, as if they’re trying to emulate Dreamworks. At the very least, they’re not embracing their own heritage of bold npr (sic Tarzan). Why?
I could only watch this up to the Chameleon side-kick reveal. Its a feat to turn me off from something that has so much artistic talent oozing out of every frame.
Todd Alcott is a must-read reviewer for anyone involved in making film. His crit of Inglorious Basterds (here, here, here and here – oh, and here) will easily cement this opinion as fact. So its particularly rewarding to see him adress the animated classic Bambi.And of course, the crit (which will be continued) is a must for animators, even his first, fairly brief installment.
None of this should work. And yet, Bambi remains one of the most charming, most beguiling, most arresting movies ever made.
And what the heck, a quote from the Basterds review:
Movies are lies that tell the truth. There is nothing real about them, and there is even less real about Inglourious Basterds than there is about most movies.
Check out this film by Kevin Megens, Floris Vos, Arno de Grijs and Andre Bergs. Music and sound design by Alex Debicki. Script by Jan Eduards. Produced by il Luste. More info at the film’s site. Thanks to Keith Lango for the heads up!
Of course it has great energy, fantastic designs and bold cuts – all built about a very simple and effective dramatic concept. What I’d like to highlight, however is the stylistic consistency; they make a world rule that there is no gradient. The characters are hard-edged polygons, the city and props as well. A simple decision seen elsewhere. But what makes this take particularly effective is that the makers stick to their guns. Check out that sunset. Have a look at that camera flash. Harsh, bold angular color fields. And they possess energy.
I often observe this battle in my students – and it is a battle. You make a stylistic decision. Cool. But then there’s this image of what a sunset looks like and instead of plodding through the process of finding a method to communicate that from within your rules, you make an exception. And – in the worst case – the film comes undone. In the best, you lose potential. As Pivot clearly demonstrates. As David O’Reilly continuously demonstrates.
Check out the energy of those bold decisions. Consequence!
Check out this Sundance festival entry by Adrien Merigeau. There’s lots to praise here… this is a beautiful film that tackles more complicated emotions. In short, a young man returns to the forest of his childhood to see his father – and confront his memories. The young man is represented as a wolf, and he is accompanied by two friends, a fox and a cat. They are all very familiar, very tame – and beautifully animated. This animation is broken by filmed sequences of foliage and this jarring stylistic change works quite well… the brutal father is lent understanding (if not sympathy) by the ironic obviousness that he’s an animal. It’s the youths that are unnatural. The photographed reality of natural elements hammers this home, revealing two worlds without judgment that tragically fail to coincide.
I really like this film by Stephen Irwin. The film consists of drawn sequences on index cards and portrays the unfriendly life experiences of a black dog. The word “progress” in the title implies some sort of goal, but what that goal might be is gratefully omitted. The drawn cards are additionally computer-animated to great effect, causing dis-coherent jitters, blaze-like rips and rapid overlaps that imply flipping of cards. Interestingly, this last effect is much more effective in drawing my gaze than is the use of a searchlight-like highlight used to underscore the most up-to-date calamity in the black dog’s life.
All of these effects are in keeping with the film’s materiality; index cards and black marker. And the music is incredible. Did I mention that? Sorenious Bonk delivers big time in his first animation score.
Enough! Watch the film and visit: http://www.smalltimeinc.com/
Found this thanks to John Martz at Drawn, a blog I visit almost daily. First off, I headline the director Richard rather than the illustrator (art director?) James Jarvis as its an animated film. John says he usually dislikes “3D animation modified to look hand-drawn” but he likes this one. What makes it different? Here’s my attempt at an analysis…
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I watched Inglorious Basterds last night. The trailers had left me wary, as they were all tightly oriented around placative macho motives of revenge… combine that with the war movie genre and Hitlers being slaughtered by Jews and well… I was cautious. On top of that, I live here in the heart of Germany – the land that impulsively contemplates its belly-button, as the (poorly interpreted) German saying goes. Most reviews had been reserved to negative, and close friends had given unmistakable warning; gratuitous violence, macho fairy tale, etc.
So of course I went to see it, and humbly report that I have a new favorite Tarantino film. There’s loads to talk about, from masterful cinematic moments and surprisingly shoddy sets (that didn’t bother me in the least) but I’ll concentrate on one aspect: the German identity.
Here’s an interesting NPR project being done in Finland by Sami Nikki and Andrew McCluskey. Some great visuals! I do feel the 3D is too evident, mostly through the preservation of volume, but also some dynamic canvas issues. I feel for the artist’s struggles. This has the feel of a post-filter solution, which makes for very convoluted level-of-detail controls, among other things.
I’ll definitely be following this. Check out the makingof and watch the trailer above.
Have a look at this animation by Lucinda Schreiber.
No… its not a fancy tech-fest. It’s nearly retro in its usage of chalk animation. I find it wonderfully engaging, though – the artist cleverly incorporates the medium’s association with chalkboards and education to underscore the song’s central theme of communication and memory to layer her film. In the beginning, one girl whispers in the ear of another, who whispers in the ear of another (text: tell me all you know) until finally a bird flies from her ear. The bird flies from one chalkboard to another and another, suddenly transformed to an owl.
Throughout the film, transformation combines nicely with the to win a larger meaning felt through the materiality of chalk; an eye becomes a boat, sails away from its face and finally docks on a new face. Each drawing leaves its trace in smeared chalk and powder which gathers on the chalkboard’s frame, material artifacts very much in keeping with the song’s sentimental occupation with memory.
Watch it, and share your thoughts.
Luckily, I was able to meet Nina Paley and watch her inspirational film Sita Sings the Blues at last May’s FMX in Stuttgart, Germany. Since then, I’ve been following her struggle with distribution, copyright and (if I recall correctly) lice. I continue to be in awe of her achievement in making this film, and the qualities of the film itself. against that background I stumbled across this review by Roger Ebert.
In this wonderful review of a wonderful film, Ebert says something of central relevance to npr and stylistic development:
One remarkable thing about “Sita Sings the Blues” is how versatile the animation is. Paley works entirely in 2-D with strict rules, so that characters remain within their own plane, which overlaps with others. This sounds like a limitation. Actually, it is the source of much amusement. Comedy often depends on the device of establishing unbreakable rules and then finding ways to cheat on them and surprise you. The laughs Paley gets here with 2-D would be the envy of an animator in 3-D. She discovers dimensions where none exist.
The appeal of npr stems in part from limitations surmounting themselves. This is true not only of what happens in the animation, as Ebert observes, but to some degree in the animation itself. The cut-out concentric circles are received by the viewer as two things at once… simultaneously, they are vector cg graphics and Sita’s eye. They are a transformation. While this true of illustration as well, it is more evident when viewing animation. This transformation is suspended, held in levitation – and our brains are subtly tickled in a way that is related to the functioning of comedic surprise. The artist’s pen is a suspended ‘reveal’ – and the eye lingers in hopes of catching the device’s resolution. At least, I suspect so. This would help explain why animated content is repeatedly viewed. .