Points for Effort: The Lorax Goes Green for Publicity

Via: ScreenCrave

Illumination/Universal are getting ready to release their latest film The Lorax. the two unusual things about this film are:

  1. My finacee wants to see it
  2. The merchandising/tie-ins are “green”

Normally film studios will give lip service to the idea of the green agenda. Case in point is Captain Planet, which had some decidedly un-environmentally friendly toys.

This time around though, it seems like a genuine effort is being made. From the AP:

The EPA, for instance, is using the Lorax character to help promote low-power appliances that carry the Energy Star label. Hilton’s DoubleTree hotel chain is sponsoring a trip for four to eco-tourism mecca Costa Rica. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is creating a Lorax-inspired route through its garden, which is home to a number of endangered trees.

Such tie-ins will probably do a good job of raising awareness amongst the public about environmental needs, but will they lead to lasting change? I doubt it. I mean, since when has film merchandise made a significant impact on consumer behaviour?

Normally things go great when the products are on the shelves, but like all tie-ins, their lifespan is limited, and we’ve all seen the products in the bargain bin featuring the film from 6 months ago that now look lost and forlorn. On top of that, we, as humans, are notoriously regimented in our ways. After a few months, most consumers who went green for the Lorax will be right back to their old way of doing things.

I can’t help but feel that stunts like this are more about the positive publicity than making real changes. What do you think? Is this green promotional campaign a gimmick or do you think it’ll stick with consumers?

How Environmentally Friendly is Animation?

Via: The New York Times (which I was somehow able to access)

Yesterday it was announced that Captain Planet is being released on DVD. Would it not have been more environmentally friendly to just stream the shows instead?

With that in mind, just how environmentally friendly is animation anyway?

Let’s see:

Traditional animation:

  1. Reams upon reams of paper (most likely not recycled)
  2. Hundreds of pencils
  3. Thousands of cels (cellulose acetate)
  4. Hundreds of litres of ink and paint
  5. Various chemicals for developing the film (as well as the film itself)

CGI Animation (assuming an all-digital production)

  1. Hundreds  of Desktop computers
  2. Render farms with thousands of servers

Now these are extremely overly simplified lists, but each element of both can be extrapolated out in terms of their environmental impact. For example, the environmental cost of pencils is not just about the wood in them. It also include the emissions from the machinery to cut down the tree, the chemicals used to treat the wood and the emissions from the various vehicles used to transport it to the shop you bought it from as well as the emissions from your car that you used to drive down there.

Other things like air-conditioning for the building, the materials used in the studio and of course the transportation costs of distributing the actual films to theaters can all contribute to the environmental cost of an animated film.

All of this can go unnoticed and usually does, but they are important to remember because it is easy to become short-sighted and think that just because animation doesn’t really produce any tangible goods (in the strict sense) that it is environmentally friendly.

This post isn’t a lecture, just more of a subtle reminder to have a broad mind when it comes to this kind of thing.