Animation Articles: May 24, 2020

A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 24th of May, 2020.

Read more

Animation Articles: April 26th, 2020

A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 26th of April, 2020.

Read more

What’s Really Interesting About the New Avatar: The Last Airbender Series

Were you surprised about the announcement earlier this week about a brand-new series of Avatar: The Last Airbender? I sure was, but outside what was discussed around the net this week, there’s a few things that make the announcement really interesting, and potentially game-changing.

Read more

Week Links 26-2013

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

konietzko avatar skin solour

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:

  1. It’s all to easy to jump to conclusions if you’re not involved in a production
  2. 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

couldhavebeenfrozen-1

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.

couldhavebeenfrozen-2

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

 

How To Petition for An Avatar and Legend of Korra Soundtrack

In what seems to be a regular occurrence over on The Last Airbender subreddit (yes, I am a subscriber), someone has released yet another internet petition for an official soundtrack release for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Now this one has gained a bit more traction that previous ones in that the actual production house, The Track Team, has linked to it. So it has a bit more pedigree than previous attempts, so why does it still fail to stack up? Well, it once again makes the familiar mistakes of such campaigns.

Keep reading this post

Three Great ‘Art of’ Books

‘Art Of’ books have become quite popular over the last number of years and it seems that they have become an established part of movie merchandise for all movies, not just the animated ones where they began.

The content of art of books tends to vary quite a bit. Some are truly fantastic windows into the creative processes behind a film, while others, such as the one for Laika’s film, Coraline, seeme to be slapped together at the last minute in an attempt to placate the movie going public.

The three I’ve chosen for this list are far from that insofar as they represent the best kind of ‘art of’ books in their own way. One is for a western film, one is for an eastern film and one is for a TV series. Together they take quite different approaches but all serve the same purpose, that is, to show how filmmakers created the worlds and characters that we all love.

Note: All the images come from the excellent and highly recommended Parka Blogs website where you can find comprehensive reviews of each books in addition to links to Amazon for purchase.

The Art Of The Incredibles

This was the first book of its kind that I came across, and it is not hard to see why it remains one of my favourites. Drawing heavily on the look of the film, The Art Of The Incredibles contains a good mixture of character, layout and background art. There are plenty of sketches and concepts which convey the many iterations of design that some of the characters went through before final design.

However, it is the landscapes and backgrounds that deserve the highest praise. All the main sets and locations are shown in detail, with plenty of information on how the look of the film was heavily inspired by the 1950s and 60s. As a special bonus, a fold-out in the middle contains the entire colour script!

The Art Of The Incredibles is bursting with art from cover to cover and ensures its place in this list with plenty that cannot be seen anywhere else.

The Art of Spirited Away

While this may appear to be a similar book, it does in fact take a very different approach. All the characters, backgrounds and layouts are there to be sure, but this book covers a Miyazaki film! Instead of the lush, flawless art of the book discussed above, The Art of Spirited Away is chock full of sketches, watercolours in addition to finished art.

The book compliments Miyazaki’s art style in a way that conveys the individual effort that went into the film; read: thousands of hand-drawn cels. Unlike other books, the emphasis is on the art moreso than the film or how it developed. In deferrance to other books, there is also a comprehensive looks at how the film utilised digital technology to enhance the tradtional processes; a throughly educational and enjoyable read.

Pure art from start to finish, The Art of Spirited Away represents almost the antihesis of The Art of The Incredibles.

The Art of Avatar: The Last Airbender

Lastly, we come to an ‘art of’ book made for a TV series. Something of a rarity, the book came about only because there was a theatrical, live-action film made of the series. Apparently the art in that didn’t warrant its own tome, so we have this one to read instead.

The Art of Avatar: The Last Airbender takes yet another road to artistic gratification. It methodically goes through the main characters in the series before going into each episode in detail before finally ending with the many ancilliary pieces of art that go into things like video games and promo posters.

Naturally as a series, this book can’t afford to go into nearly as much detail with each episode as you would for each scene in a film. Nonetheless, it admirably covers scenes, props and characters in each episode over the three seasons and provides as much information as possible about them. As you might expect, everything is still a bit brief, but that is only because the series could easily fill three books or more with the volume of art created for the series.

From cover to cover, The Art of Avatar is a superb companion to a great show that provides a wonderful overview of how the creators came up with a universe quite unlike anything we’ve seen on TV before or since.

And there you have it, three very different yet equally fulfilling ways to express all the wonderful art that goes into animated productions.