Friday, February 26, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I'm a little surprised at Cartoon Brew's insistence than Avatar be considered an animated film. I don't know if the reason is because it is the highest grossing film in history and they want animation to have some of the glory or if it's because James Cameron is so insistent that Avatar should not be tainted with the 'A' word. In any case, there are reasons (beyond whatever anyone thinks of Avatar) why I don't think considering it an animated film is a good thing.

Those outside the film business may not be aware of the distinction between production and post-production. In a live action film - one with no animation or special effects - production is the shooting of the film. Post-production is what happens after the film is shot. Those things typically include editing, music, sound effects, dialogue looping, the sound mix and titling.

When a film does include special effects, unless they are done in camera during the regular shoot, they are considered post-production. In the past, certain effects like in-camera matting, hanging miniatures and glass shots were done during production, but most effects were done during post.

In what we would all acknowledge as typical animated films (Snow White, Toy Story), animation is production, not post-production. In films that have animated elements added (Jurassic Park), animation is done in post-production. This may seem like an esoteric distinction, but it's the difference between what is central to a production and what sweetens a production. I am not in any way dismissing the importance of post-production. A film's music score has a huge impact on how the film affects audiences and certainly Jurassic Park's impact depended tremendously on the quality of the dinosaur animation, but in each case, the post-production elements are driven by what has already been shot.

Animators may have worked over Avatar's motion capture and added creatures, but their work was driven by what had been shot (or in this case, recorded). To pretend otherwise is disingenuous. There is no question that Jack Pierce's Frankenstein make-up added to the audience's perception of Boris Karloff as the monster. However, many actors at Universal played the monster (Bela Lugosi, Glen Strange), yet Karloff is generally considered the definitive performance. While Avatar's animators supplied more than digital make-up, it's still the underlying motion captured performance that counts.

I've written extensively on how fragmented the process of making an animated film is and how so many of the acting decisions are made before the animator starts work. The character designs, the storyboard and the voice performance all make acting decisions that constrain the animator's interpretation. There is no question that motion capture is yet another constraint, probably larger than all the others. To insist that Avatar is an animated film is to marginalize animators even more than they are in what are generally considered animated films. Is this the direction we want things to go? Better to agree with James Cameron and focus our attention on films where animators create, not enhance, performances.

New Blog Alert!

Hey Everyone

There are so many blogs out there when it comes to animation and art in general. All the posts that I do here I really try to concentrate on just things specifically just for animators. You always here that life drawing is so very important to us animators and especially early on in our careers and in school. Very few of us realize what life drawing will do to help us as animators because we are learning the tools, principles and programs....usually all at the same time. But as I mentioned early about posing....this is really where all of it stems from. LIFE DRAWING.

I have looked at many art blogs and you can find a ton out there. This is why I have included some in the Blog roll because I feel that some exposure to them is great for animators. I mentioned in the last post about Rad Secrhist's blog. He has gotten together with other artists like those over at Character Design Blog, and started a new site called The Art Center.

"The Art Center is a brand new place where Artists will share Ideas, Tips, and Tutorials. It will quickly grow both in content and artists from all the different art mediums. The Art Center will be a sister site to the Character Design blog..."

This site is a great resource to really study what goes into a pose and how these great artists study and breakdown the human form. When we as animators understand how poses are designed then it will only shine in our own work when we start to thumbnail our poses and then translate that into 3D.

There is so much good stuff on their individual sites that I can't imagine this site being any different. So take a look and enjoy.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Night Shift

 Tonight Cheryl and I were talking on Skype.  She works the night shift and had to get some zzz's but she wanted to stay on.  She finally crashed, so I sketched her sleeping.  

Hopefully that doesn't sound creepy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Disney's New Strategy

Robert Iger's free-spending ways have caught up to him. Having purchased Pixar and Marvel for a combined total of $10 billion, the studio has to start making some serious coin in order to pay off the purchases.

The strategy is to focus on $150 million films that can be heavily merchandised or films that cost less than $30 million. Anything that falls in the middle of those two budget neighborhoods is out, even if it's a proven money maker. The Proposal, a Sandra Bullock film that cost $40 million and that grossed $315 million worldwide won't have a sequel as a result of this policy.

Friday, February 19, 2010