The One Surprise From the Cartoon Network Upfront

Although the recent Cartoon Network upfront presentation (they still have those?) didn’t reveal any major surprises as far as programming goes. Two new concepts and surfaced. The first is that the network is now ‘Always On’ but given the previous iteration of the idea, my money is that you have to be a cable or satellite subscriber to access. Boo. The second is a bit more interesting and is another attempt by an established network to figure out the teen mindset.

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How an Animated GIF Can Become A Feature Film

A while back, I contributed a post to Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop where I mused on the idea that it’s theoretically possible to create a feature film from the nucleus of an animated GIF. While I gave a brief summary of how that could be achieved in that post, it’s prompted a more comprehensive look at the theory and why it’s entirely achievable

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GIFs and Vine – Animation Promotional Tool or Nuisance?

gif-club animation

GIFs pretty much inhabit the internet these days. You can’t click a link without stumbling across one, and God help you if you think you’re going to get very far down your Tumblr dashboard without seeing at least a dozen. Yes indeedy, GIFs are a great piece of the larger internet puzzle which has been discussed on this blog before. That said, are they becoming more a nuisance?

Peanuts and Vine: Together At Last

Today’s post comes courtesy of the announcement that the Peanuts gang are set to star in 12 videos to be launched on Twitter’s Vine service. iKids describes the new content as being:

Commissioned by Peanuts Worldwide, [Khoa] Phan will develop a dozen original, six-second videos using the app. Videos will be based on 12 Peanut themes, including the kite-eating tree, Schroeder’s music, Linus’s blanket, Lucy’s psychiatry booth, Snoopy’s dog house, Snoopy himself, the Red Baron, Woodstock, baseball games, football games, the Great Pumpkin and the Little Red-Haired Girl.

So far so, well, brand synergy-ey. Vine has proven to be quite popular (animator Marlo Meekins has become even more infamous famous thanks to her creations) and has found its way into sharing ideas that one would never thought worthy.

The coming together of Peanuts and Vine sort of makes sense given the latter’s comic strip origins and the requisite focus on a single gag. Vine would essentially replicate this on a motion picture scale. That said, there are concerns that have been raised.

Does It Reduce The Stature of Animation?

OK, this one’s a wee bit out there, but it’s still valid. Plenty of TV shows and films (animated or otherwise) are being reduced to GIFs by fans. Sure, they’re sharing the content they love and using GIFs as a discussion tool, but there is an inherent danger that the larger meaning or story behind a GIF could be lost by its brevity.

So is there a danger that animated content is being reduced to an extremely short-form of content or is this another opportunity for the technique?

The case for the latter is certainly strong. We’ve already seen animated GIFs used for unique creations; an encouraging sign.

The Nuisance Risk

As with anything on the internet, there is a habit of taking things about as far as they can be tolerated. Animated GIFs are just the latest in a long line of things to mollify the internet (glossy buttons anyone?). With such prevelance comes the risk of over-exposure. Memes have already reached a level of notoriety that has seen them banned from various discussion boards and subreddits. Animated GIFs could be next.

Using GIFs for promotional purposes is where the line may well be drawn. Tumblr has come in for some flack over the use of GIFs in promoted ads on the site. Ditto for corporate GIFs whose sole purpose is to either sell stuff or incite a consumer response. The concern is that all are perceived as being advertisements and therefore to be avoided.

Are GIFs the latest internet fad or are they really the new old way of distributing content? Share your thoughts with a comment!

Dennys GIF

The Place of GIFs in the Animated Fandom

Yes, you can probably guess who this is and what show she’s in. It is of course Mabel from Disney’s Gravity Falls and she’s doing something that’s pretty popular at the moment, that is, starring in a GIF. Now we all know they’ve been around for a while (25 years in fact), and they’ve since been elevated to a new art form with Cinemagraphs, but why are they so popular with fans? That’s what this post aims to find out.

You can see them for just about every show and film currently going all over the internet, although Tumblr remains a popular haunt with whole blogs devoted to the filetype; here’s a Gravity Falls example. They don’t seem to do much besides recap a particularly funny part of the show or a singular joke. A lot of them often include subtitles for what’s being said, since the GIF format lacks any sound. They don’t do much besides loop some animation, right? Yes, but that isn’t why they’re so popular.

If you think about fandoms and the activities they tend to engage in, the GIF makes a perfect addition. Fans like to discuss shows, sure, but more importantly than that, they like to discuss particular points about shows, i.e. favourite scenes, action shots, romantic embraces, and so on and so forth. A static image says a lot, but a GIF like the ones below say a lot more:

When you view them in that light, the spread of GIFs (and rash of poor ones) is much more understandable. The impetus for this particular post came courtesy of Anil Dash, whose love of GIFs is well-known, and who linked to an interesting article over at The Content Analyst where the use of the GIF as a content tool is discussed. The topic there was new reporting methods (the recent London Olympics in particular) but the point was that GIFs are becoming increasingly prevalent for reporting and discussion purposes.

For the animated fandom, it would appear that they are already ahead of the curve and are in fact, blessed by the limitations of the GIF format. Think about that for a second; GIFs must be relatively short (because they are downloaded, not streamed), they must be well made (because they are looped and a poor one is jarring to watch) and since they lack any sound, they are saved from being turned into annoyances or mini-AMVs.

They also serve as an important connection between the fans and the studio. Yet again, Adventure Time leads the way as the show’s tumblelog often gets in on the act, posting GIFs from the show as well as fan-made ones like the one below :

And here’s an example from Neon Genesis Evangelion, showing the transition from rough through to final animation.

Again, the value in the connection goes both ways with fans gaining from a feeling of importance, and the studio gaining from fans actively filtering and selecting their favourite scenes. All of this drives the engine that is the show and keeps it running.

In fact, you can find GIFs for plenty of old stuff too. Heck, I same across this GIF from the too-perfect-to-succeed film The Thief and the Cobbler:

What does that tell you? Well it should show you how awesome the animation in that film is. The visuals are gorgeous to be sure, but only when they begin to move does the real magic begin.

So what can we conclude from all of this? That GIFs are an important part of fandom of course! Long may they continue to proliferate the fandom landscape.

Animated Albums Brings Covers To Life

Despite being near ubiquitous at this point, it’s still fun to come across a Tumblelog that pushed the artistic envelope just a wee but further. Enter Animated Albums, which takes actual album covers and, well, animates them!

Although they’re not the most graceful in the world, there is nonetheless a sense of satisfaction to be gleaned from the unquestionable Terry Gilliam feel to it all. Below are a few example and be sure to check out the archive too as the site sadly ends at November 2011.

 

Re-Aniamted GIFs by Matthew DiVito

Coming by way of British magazine, Creative Review, is the work of Matthew DiVito, a motion graphics designer in Boston. In his free time he puts together some truly extraordinary animated GIFs that manage to push the boundaries when it comes to using the file format as a visual medium.

He has a tumblelog so you won’t miss the awesomeness ever again. As a bonus, check out some of his true animation work, check out his excellent reel below:

 

Some Stop-Motion in Slow Motion

Originally shared by Bill Alger through Google+, here’s a GIF illustrating all the hard work that goes into stop-motion animation.

Clearly they’re a special kind of animator for a reason 🙂

Coraline stop-motion in progress

On the same note, to see how a stop-motion film is made in real time, check out Daisy Edwards production blog for her stop-motion film, She’s A Rebel.

A Puke-Inducing Animated GIF From The Simpsons

Well, not really puke inducing, but certainly fairly shocking when one considers the quality of the animation. It’s pretty poor. The movement is too rigid, the women is just a short cycle followed by some actual movement and as someone on tumblr pointed out, the effects on the alien look about 10 years out of date. It’s kinda sad to say you’ve seen better quality in a student’s animated film than on a primetime show like The Simpsons.

Is this what The Simpsons has become? Apparently so, even in its early days, at least the animation was honest. Klasky-Csupo was a young studio getting off the ground and the studio in Korea was having teething problems finishing the animation, so the blatant errors can be excused. Today though, with 20+ years of experience, there is no real excuse for poor/lazy animation.

In addition to that, how about the joke? Have a peek at the clip below from Al Jean and Mike Reiss’ short-lived 1990s sitcom, The Critic and see if you can’t spot something familiar.