Why do you Animate?

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In a brief, but all too painful and to-the-point post over on Tumblr, Keith Lango lays out what it means to create animation for mass consumption. It’s an eye-opener but one that could be said to be necessary for many people working in the industry. The bottom line:

Audiences. Do. Not. Care. About. “Quality”. Animation.

It almost hurts to read but it is absolutely something you should if you want to confront a lot of truths about the animation industry as we know it today.

Of course, why should audiences care. They don’t particularly care about how live-action is made because despite their thirst for making-of extras on DVDs, they remain quite ignorant of what really makes films happen. Why should animation be any different?

2 Comments on “Why do you Animate?

  1. I disagree (shocking, I know!).

    HIS goal may be to entertain people, and that’s a lofty purpose but it isn’t everyone’s.

    The goal of Family Guy, The Simpsons, and every other broadcast show is to make money by selling ad time, with merchandizing is a bonus. Entertainment is the conduit to cash. If Heidigger discussing hermeneutics with Habermas got ratings, we’d have networks falling over each other to broadcast the next big egghead.

    So by saying an artist’s sole responsibility is to “entertain”, you are effectively saying “it’s an animator’s job to make a product that is a pleasing to as many people as possible by engaging them at the lowest common denominator”.

    Yes, that cynical point of view is a sad truism in the film industry.

    But just as the there are millions of people who love “South Park” (me included) there are millions who don’t. And probably a few of those millions will respond to and love “quality” animation. What’s wrong with creating work that they’ll enjoy?

    I say this without any great love of “quality” animation, but with the conviction that we work with a filmmaking technique that has tremendous power to engage beyond “entertainment” and that the bullying rumbles of easy commercialism too often suppress an individual’s attempts to create.

    • Even when the need to entertain and make money was a priority for both cartoon makers as well as the studios that hired them 70-80 years ago, at least you could tell the difference between those who put in the time, effort, and care into what they made (ex: Disney, MGM, Warners etc.) from those who just wanted to make immediate profits for the moment.

      Nowadays, that distinction is becoming increasingly difficult to spot in both animation for film and TV against internet based productions. The ones who put in all their hard work towards making a quality product are becoming the exception, not the rule.

      Strangely enough, there are 2 videos that deal with this exact issue, made by a guy with the username of NickonAquaMagna. Although, the videos in question have more to do with video games and offer suggestions on what could be done to make a particular franchise (in this case, Mega Man) become a successful IP again.

      Said videos can be found here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt1GWVCoC7U

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL1bjy6WKe8

      Have a look at them, won’t you?

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