A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 22nd of March, 2020.…
I started this blog back in 2010 and kept up writing posts almost daily for a number of years; all the way through graduate school and beyond. It kept me going through thick and thin as I wrote about my one true passion: animation.…
Copyright plays a large role in legacy entertainment business models and animation is no exception. Thanks to the existence of the Mickey Mouse Copyright Act, very little American animation has made it into the public domain, and with recent rumblings about yet another extension, we're unlikely to see any new ones entering for the foreseeable future. So we know it's killing the completed package, but how is it killing the actual animation itself? For that we turn to a joke that was nixed for copyright reasons alone.
Six crazy weeks of school are finally over, and after taking 6 credits (that's two classes or four nights a week) you better believe I'm completely and utterly exhausted. That said, posting should resume on a more regular basis with a post a day. In the meantime, here's a few week links for you to peruse.
Report from SAS 25: “Redefining Animation"
Harvey Deneroff gives a full account of the recent Society for Animation Studies conference in Los Angeles. By all accounts, it's a great event for anyone interested in the more academic side of animation.
The decline of Disney
The title is slightly misleading because we all know that Disney (the company) is doing great. What Jaime Weinman at Macleans is concerned about in this piece is Disney (the studio) and the rapid decline of its output and the resulting sidelining of its impact on the overall Disney company. You don't have to be blind to see that Disney is relying more and more on either acquisitions or outside partners to produce its films, but you might inadvertently miss the shift in style that has occurred over the last 20 years.
Olly Moss' Studio Ghibli Posters
Need I say any more? Click through for the Howl's Moving Castle one.
A Simple Thought: Go Big. (And Stay Simple.)
Ken Fountain has this great post that looks at the 'cartoony' style of animation and how best to achieve it. Lots of great points and yes, the key is to go big and to stay simple.
SpyVibe: Shane Glines Interview
How could you not read this? Glines discusses his style and many classic influences in this sizeable interview.
Tweets of the Week
A lot of great and prolific tweeting this week!
Need Animator-I have a story that's 4 seasons long, 10 episodes each. looking for maximum quality. No pay. I will warn that I am very picky.
— For Exposure (@forexposure_txt) July 8, 2013
If networks in the US don't want us too have magical girl cartoons, we'll just give all our money to kickstarter. <3
— Brianne (@potatofarmgirl) July 9, 2013
Dr. Lollipop animation is in! This cartoon looks so fine, it's gonna have trouble keeping the ladies off of it..and men! @cartoonhangover
— Aliki T Grafft (@alikigreeky) July 9, 2013
Still not sure what "Cosplay" is. Pretty sure it involves people dressing up as Bill Cosby.
— Alex Hirsch (@_AlexHirsch) July 9, 2013
— Alisa Harris (@CookingUpComics) July 11, 2013
When I'm writing, there's only two things on my mind: Connecting story points and "researching" cartoons when my son comes home.
— Mike Maihack (@mikemaihack) July 13, 2013
Urophilia Society Releases it's first animated feature: How to Drain Your Dragon.
— Elliot Cowan (@BoxnRoundhead) July 13, 2013
Ugh. Whoever made the animation of a roller coaster on the film reel before the start of a movie should pay for their crimes against mankind
— Dan Santat (@dsantat) July 13, 2013
Some post-Independence Day and food poisoning week links for you today.
Don't Go To Art School
Noah Bradley points out the fallacy of an art degree with this post:
Artists are neither doctors nor lawyers. We do not, on average, make huge six-figure salaries. We can make livable salaries, certainly. Even comfortable salaries. But we ain’t usually making a quarter mil a year. Hate to break it to you. An online debt repayment calculator recommended a salary exceeding $400,000 in order to pay off a RISD education within 10 years.
He's right. In class this week our group had to present on the topic of higher education and I was tasked with the rather difficult job of pointing out that institutions rarely co-ordinate with industry in regards to job supply or demand. The end result is that a degree is no guarantee of a job let alone a good one.
Unfortunately many companies and studios are demanding degrees for entry level positions and are exacerbating the situation. Noah puts it best:
Find another path. Art is a wonderful, beautiful, fulfilling pursuit. Don’t ruin it with a mountain of debt.
Bryan Konitezko Discusses Ethnicity and Colour Theory in the Avatar Universe
Co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra, Bryan Konietzko has a long but comprehensive analysis of ehtnicity, colour theory and character genetics in this post over on his tumblelog.
He highlights two important things:
- It's all to easy to jump to conclusions if you're not involved in a production
- Colour plays an incredibly important role
The post is a great read, especially if you are curious about the Avatar universe and family lines within it. On one hand, it's nice to see this level of detail being put into a show, but on the other, it's kind of disheartening that Bryan had to clarify things.
That plays into the first point above. Fans sometimes do unnecessarily jump to conclusions and can unintentionally cause a ruckus or make a mountain out of a molehill. There's little one can do about it save being open and honest about things; just like Bryan was.
Secondly, the saga highlights just how much of an influence colour can have on a show (or film). This makes now as good a time as any to plug Oswald Iten's superb blog Colorful Animated Expressions which features just about all you ever wanted to know about the role that colour plays in filmmaking.
This Could Have Been Frozen
Coincidentally there was another article about ethnicity in animation this week. Coming from the Daily Mail (with my sincere apologies) is the news that a few fans, unhappy about the supposed ethnic homogeny of the upcoming Disney film, Frozen, have taken matters into their own hands and have come up with a few ideas of what a more diverse alternative could have looked like.
There is of course the obligatory tumblelog where people can submit their own ideas.
All I can say about this is that Disney has a long history of augmenting traditional tales in order to make them more convenient or marketable; complete historical accuracy has never been one of their strong points (remember, the original Aladdin story was set in China.)
Tweets of the Week
Surprise everyone, we're going to use all that Kickstarter money to buy out Futurama
— Dave McElfatrick (@daveexplosm) July 1, 2013
Um. I, like, LOVE Amazing World of Gumball. That is all.
— Lauren Faust (@Fyre_flye) July 4, 2013
Animation has long played a prominent role in idents; you know, those little jingles that remind you which TV channel your watching, who produced the show/film you've watched or even what a block of programming is. There's too many to list out there, but they form an incredibly important part of the animation jigsaw puzzle.
Ident Exhibit A:
You could probably tell exactly what was going to happen before you even clicked the play button, couldn't you?
Yes, the Hanna-Barbera logo is ingrained on the minds of literally millions of people around the world even though the studio (as a practical production facility) hasn't existed in over 10 years.
Why bring that point up? Well it's to illustrate that a brand, and especially an animated one, doesn't just vanish overnight. Additionally, it is also a studios strongest asset, and something they have to work hard at to bring to fruition.
Ident Exhibit B:
That's the old one, but the sound remains in use. Frederator have built a particularly strong brand especially in light of two things: firstly, a lot of their productions are under the umbrella of a major network, and secondly, their online efforts have done much to increase awareness of the studio's existence outside of industry circles.
Both idents provide an indication of who created what, and both are certainly memorable. They establish so in a clear and concise manner too. So why do some studios insist on doing things like this?
What does that do beyond signify the creator? Shouldn't idents also be a creative exercise, one that challeneges studio's to come up with something truly unique? I believe so, and I wish all studios felt the same way.
Another set of week links you should consumer and muse upon.
How we know female led superhero movies are doomed.
Eric Burns-White ponders the declining market for female superheroes and why that is. Here's the thrilling conclusion:
The Superhero equivalent of Heaven’s Gate failed so utterly that it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that having a superhero movie with a female lead, regardless of any other factors or any other movie experiences, is entirely nonviable in today’s market.
Which movie is he talking about? You'll just have to read it to find out.
'Monsters,' 'Despicable Me 2,' 'Turbo': Summer's Brutal Animation War
I'm sure you may have read this somewhere else but I'll just add two things:
- It perpetuate the notion that animation is a genre of film. You don't read any stories about the a brutal 'war' between superhero films, so you?
- Squeezing so many films into just one part of the year further implies that we're in a bubble.
Legend of Korra Soundtrack: Music as Storyteller
Efforts to get an official release for the The Last Airbender series and its successor have apparently paid off with this announcement. While we continue to call for a release for the former, the latter will see the light of day on July 16th.
I've written about soundtracks multiple times (like here and here) and even wrote a detailed post on how to petition for the official Last Airbender release. While it's a bit confusing as to why Nickelodeon is releasing one for Korra while a complete Airbender on exists is beyond me, but this is almost certainly being done as a test of demand. With hope, the full OST for The Last Airbender will come out soon.
Tweets of the Week