From the Kidscreen Convention to Walt Disney In One Blog Post

I’m kinda stuck for words this morning and I’m not sure why. There have been plenty of developments in the world of animation this week. Namely the annual Kidscreen gathering in New York City, which I can only assume went well from the various facebook and twitter updates I have read. I would attend myself, but at over a thousand dollars, it’s money I just don’t have at the moment.

In these days of course that is not as big a deal as it once was. the internet has greatly opened the animation industry to both outsiders (yours truly) and prospective animators. The result has been the greater proliferation of animation (and talk of animation) throughout the entertainment industry and beyond, from the use of flash to make TV shows to the many hundreds of short series that broadcast only on the web.

The web has facilitated the opening of animation as an industry and artform although sometimes you find that there is a this latent fear of being open about what you do. “Do all your work in secret”, “Don’t tell anyone what new projects your working on”, etc. Entertainment is a notoriously secret industry, where there is this constant fear that someone is always listening to steal your idea and get a leg up on you.

While this can be true, look at the likes of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and DreamWorks’ Antz. Both are movies about ants. Both were released about the same time. Which one do you remember most? Exactly, quality matters much more than getting out first, at least most of the time it does.

Pixar may be king when it comes to CGI features, but it was not until this year that their main rival were considered to be on a similar level, and all it took to achieve that was a good quality film with a straighforward plot and a strong set of characters.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m in the middle of Bob Thomas’ biography of Walt Disney, and it’s been a extraordinary read, especially the chapters from 1930 to about 1950. In those 20 years, the studio was on a  bit of a roller-coaster ride from the highs of Snow White to the lows of the aftermath of World War II. Yet through it all, Walt had a saying for dealing with competitors:

We can lick ’em with product

The same holds true today. Any successful animated film (both from the big boys and independents) has been successful because it is well-made. Not necessarily animation-wise, but on the whole. Good plot, good characters, good animation. All three combine to make a fantastic film.

This post has been all over the place (and thank you for sticking through it). If ever there was a window into my mind, this post is it. I’m always thinking about animation in one form or another and it just so happens that it can go from the Kidscreen summit to Walt Disney in the 1930s just like that.

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