Sunday, 26 October 2008

Film Studies Blog #1

Film Studies: Animation
Brief Introduction to animation; Past and Present.
Animation is the rapid display of 2-D images or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create the illusion of movement. Some of the earliest examples of animation trace back to the Paleolithic cave paintings of animals where they have multiple sets of legs in different positions, clearly showing a storyboard of motion.
From cylinder disks (known as the Zoetrope) with a row of images along the inside wall that portrayed the illusion of motion by being spun, the next big development towards motion pictures was the flip book.
The first flip book was invented by John Barns Linnet in 1868. A set of sequential pictures shown at high speed creates the effect of motion. This was used to produce some of the first animated cartoons ever made (see: Gertie the Dinosaur).
Today animation productions use what is called Stop Motion. Stop motion uses physical objects instead of images of people. The object will be photographed, moved slightly then photographed again. These series of photos can be played back at a normal speed and the object will appear to be moving by itself. Clay animations such as Wallace and Gromit, as well as animated movies that use posed figures for instance James and the Giant Peach use the stop motion process.
In 1995, Pixar Animation Studios produced the first fully computer generated feature film called Toy Story, changing animated films forever and proving that companies were slowly making the transition from traditional animation to CGI animation. (CGI animation see: Geri's Game, For The Birds)

-What Films
There is a very wide variety of films we can watch for this genre. We have decided to spread out the different animation movies and try to watch as many different ones as possible. We will be looking at some of the original cartoon movies produced by the first big Hollywood companies like Walt Disney studios and Warna Bros productions.
Other movies inclued more recent productions by these companys that are now using the more developed technology systems.

Our list of movies that we plan on watching includes:
-Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs
-The Lion King
-Beauty and the Beast
-Space Jam
-Peter Pan
-James and the Giant Peach
-The Jungle Book
-Toy Story
-Wallace and Gromit
-Brother Bear
-Happy Feet
-Finding Nemo
-Monsters Inc.
-Lord of the Rings (animated version)
-Ice Age
-The Incredibles

-What I think defines the genre?
To start with the obvious, animation is all produced by photographing drawings or arranged objects a frame at a time to create the illusion of movement. There is no 'real life' scenery or people involved in the movie itself. The only part of the movie where people are actually used is the dialogue. However there have been movies made of mixing 'real life' and animation, such as the movie Space Jam where either cartoon characters are edited into the film to look like they are part of the real world, or the actors (in this case Michael Jordan) are edited in using blue screen to make it look like he is in the 'animation world' (see Space Jam 1996).
Although animations often contain genre like elements they are not so much a defined genre category, but more a film technique. Most animations are stop-motion films that are based upon fairy tales and make believe stories. They almost always include the stereotypical characters such as the hero, villein and the damsel in distress. Animation productions often appeal to children and is seen as "childrens entertainment".
However there are some 'adult' cartoon animations that are targeted only for adults, such as Futurama, South Park and Family Guy (see South Park - The "F" Word), but these often are only TV series.

-What similarities are there? (Include Video example)
Like i said, the similarities between the animated films are mainly the fairy tale/ make believe subject.
Almost always appealing towards the children entertainment industry.
Here are a few examples that link to the blog in some way:

Gertie the Dinosaur (Winsor McCay, 1914)

For The Birds

Geri's Game

Space Jam (1996)

South Park - The "F" Word

-Other interesting thoughts.
I typically like the category of Animation that we have chosen to focus on because being an art student, i am always interested in the creative side to things. Not only is animation creative because its movie making, but it involves a lot of skills and good ideas to draw the characters and make these movies.

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