Sunday, October 30, 2011

Using The Medium - Fredrikstad Seminar

One of the subjects I'm going to talk about is taking advantage of what animation can do that you can't do as well in other media.
You can do abstracted designs...
You can do extreme exaggeration. This type of gag would just look grotesque in live action.
Like this:

Although both Jerry Lewis and the 3 Stooges did some similar things, but not anywhere near as exaggerated.

People are much more eager to suspend their disbelief and accept preposterous situations in cartoons than they are in live action.

Since the animator is completely controlling every image on screen, he can make those images have really interesting and entertaining proportions...if he's allowed to.

That skinny Daffy body coming out of the fat Porky butt is hilarious! The same gag would not have as much impact if the proportions were more even - as they might have been if Friz did the same gag. Gags in cartoons are not just the idea of the gag itself-it's the visual presentation of the idea.

This scene is amazing.
You don't actually see all these drawings in real time but you definitely feel the impact.
It's a powerful combination of imagination and skill at work.

This type of petrified mannequin doesn't have any of the specificity and subtlety of real live actors, nor does it take advantage of design, appeal, imagination, abstraction or exaggeration that animation has to offer.
It's also very tedious to do. I don't know why anyone would purposely choose to do something that takes so much work, is no fun to do and has such a vague and boring result.
Look at that horse design. Horses are hard to animate in the first place, but you'd think you could at least start with a pleasant design that takes advantage of cartooning or at least, illustration.Here's a beautifully drawn and animated horse from an early UPA cartoon. It's both stylized and based on real horse anatomy. It would still be a bugger of a job to animate and you'd have to be super skilled to pull it off - as these animators and layout artists obviously were. This design predates the horse in Sleeping Beauty which has been copied so many times ever since.
Animated humans hardly ever make expressions-unlike cartoon characters or real people. They make these generic vacant faces. Even if this expression was interesting the first time it was drawn, is it still interesting 25 years later when it's used in every animated feature?
Here's something that inspired me. In Clampett cartoons, sometimes Scribner and the other animators would combine live action anatomy and expressions with the advantage of exaggeration that cartoons have.

This is the best of both worlds.

But again, you really have to draw like a sunovabitch to pull this sort of thing off.

The topics I will be speaking about:

Timing: animating to rhythms
Exaggeration: It doesn't read if it doesn't stretch
Abstraction and Imagination: Tex Avery and UPA, 2 different approaches to using the medium
Acting: Cartoon VS Live Action VS a Combination VS Generic Formula
Context: Using the medium to strengthen and enrich the "story" points
Control VS Anarchy
Skill: Wowing the audience with outstanding craftsmanship

I am going to show clips from classic cartoons that inspire me and then show some of my stuff that used the inspirations.