Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Cal Arts Style
This is an ongoing post, just for the purpose of definition:
The Cal Arts style is basically derived from late 1950s to 1970s Disney Movies - and Don Bluth - who emulates 1960s Disney movies.
Sword In The Stone is a whole library of character designs, animation tricks, actions and staging that gets reused in animated features produced by Cal Arts grads.
Young students want to emulate the work of old men at the end of their career.What is obviously good about late Disney cartoons is the skill. The fact that the 9 old men can move very difficult structured character designs around at every imaginable angle is suitably impressive. That skill hypnotizes many young animators and makes them want to aim high.
However, this part of the animation is very hard to learn. What is much easier to copy are superficial aspects of the designs in 1960s Disney. The crossed eyes- the one eyebrow up/ the other eyebrow down expression.
Madame Medusa's eyes and mouth shape are copied all the time.
There should be a 50 foot statue of this character outside Cal Arts because she is the school's biggest influence.
These are great drawings, but the mouth shapes are unique to the character and they are wrapped around some very complex construction.
Here's her mouth simplified and pasted on Mowgli's construction.Mowgli's lovestruck expression is also used a lot by animation graduates. It worked once, but is it the only way to show a character being lovestruck? Many think so.
The 9 old men had a lot of skill going for them but the animation and design by the time they were truly old was decadent and formulaic. They kept doing the same things over and over again - and that's what all the animators copy today- the decadent stuff, rather than the skills.
Unfortunately the people who grow up inspired by copies of copies of 60s Disney animation learn to accept these few superficial stylistic things and don't realize they are doing it. They unconsciously absorb it and regurgitate it in their films until the next generation comes along and copies their copies. Most Cal Arts graduates will say there is no Cal Arts Style, but everyone who didn't go there - especially if they have wider wider influences -can spot it instantly.
here it is in full bloom:
Kind of 101 Dalmations meets Scooby Doo.
When cartoonists refer to the "Cal Arts Style" they are talking about this recycled look that is not influenced by life or even other cartoon styles. It is strictly a straight line of inheritance through a few generations starting from somewhere around the "Aristocats". ...Losing important genetic code with each new generation and getting staler and staler.
It has been blended with 70s Hanna Barbera, Nelvana and Sheridan College in the last 20 years - and even a bit of Spumco, but the basic core of the feeling - soft Disney is Cal Arts.
DISNEY FEEDS ON ITSELF