Sunday, November 2, 2014

"The Red and the Blue", (197?), Misseri Studios

I've posted this clip as an example of how to do more with less. By limiting their palette, materials, dialogue and character design, the creators of this inventive TV series are able to appeal to a wide range of age groups and nationalities.

The series was produced by Misseri Studios, founded by Francesco Misseri in Italy in 1968. The studio has created other popular object, clay, and sand animated series such as the origami "Quak Quao", "AEIOU", and " Mio Mau".

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Kid Koala's Basin Street Blues", Monkmus (c.2004)

One of the things I love about this clip is the carefully choreographed, unconventional floaty motion style. It's the perfect match for the unconventional, floaty style of the jazz classic remix. 

In an interview with Animation Reporter, the animator Monkmus describes relistening to the audio track as an important part of his design process: 

"AR: How did you conjure up the visualization for the video Kid Koala's Basin Street Blues?
MM: By listening to the track till my ears turned blue. Kid Koala provided me with the track and as I listened to it, images of a funeral procession in New Orleans crept into my mind. It was definitely the music that sparked the initial concept, but my interest in New Orleans and it's culture really spurned me on."
Animation Reporter - Monkmus interview

Here's another article about the artist, and links to his blog and website:  
Giant Robot Magazine interview 
Monkmus (website)
Monkmus (blog)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Grover and Chelsea YES NO" - Children's Television Workshop (date unknown)

In my experience, animators often create their work in isolation. We are rarely able to view our work with a full, unbiased audience until the project is finished. Only then do we really know if our gags have worked, or even if our intentions have been understood.

Puppeteers, on the other hand, enjoy instant feedback whilst they are performing. If the audience is bored, they will fidget or, even worse, talk amongst themselves. If the gags don't work, there are no laughs.

Just as importantly, performing live allows the normal to-and-fro of human interaction to take place over and above the scripted material. Ad-lib dialogue, subtle emotional responses, and realistic timing can evolve, adding to the piece's entertainment value.

The clip I've posted here shows us how strong this interaction can be. The performance seems to be quite fresh and unstructured, with Grover and the child feeding off one another for their lines and timing. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Dimensions of Dialogue (Mo┼żnosti dialogu)" (1982), Jan Svankmajer

I was reminded of this film recently when we were researching stop-motion animation for The Lego Movie. It's one of the better-known short films made by Jan Svankmajer, a prominent Czech film-maker and artist, and won him the Grand Prize at Annecy in1983

"Dimensions of Dialogue" uses everyday objects, food and clay to create stop-motion animated dioramas exploring aspects of human interaction.


Wikipedia -  "Dimensions_of_Dialogue" (retrieved 16.06.14)

Cinelogue review - "Dimensions of Dialogue"   (retrieved 16.06.14)

Wikipedia -  "Jan Svankmajer"  (retrieved 16.06.14)

Further Reading
Scmitt, B. and Dryje, F, "Jan Svankmajer: Dimensions of Dialogue", Arbour Vitae (2013)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"The King's Speech - Bertie" (2010) - Tom Hooper

I'm posting this clip from "The King's Speech"  to illustrate the importance of acting within a pose.

The scene is taken from early in the story, when the Prince of Wales (Colin Firth) meets Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) for the first time. The Prince suffers from a severe stammer. His wife has sent him to Logue, who specialises in the treatment of speech pathologies.

Overall the characters change their silhouette very little throughout the scene.  Instead, they are able to convey information about their inner thoughts with minimal gestures.

A prime example is the final shot.  Logue delivers the line "Makes it official, then." but the shot continues for another beat after this.  No major change of pose, just a subtle turn of the head, nod and tightening of the mouth that says "I just made a joke, are you with me?"

In an earlier shot, the Prince's self-loathing is made obvious by his nervous fumbling with his cigar case. It's in this scene that we begin to understand the Prince's speech problem may have more to do with his mental state than any physical malady.

I think it's great for us as animators to study live dramatic work like this closely. It helps us to avoid cliches, and gives us more tools with which to tell craft our scenes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Studie Nr.6" (1930) Oskar Fischinger

(clip unavailable)

One of my enduring interests in the study of animation is the relationship between independent and commercial film-making. At one level the two modes of production are polar opposites, one concerned with self-expression and experimentation, the other with maximising return on investment. On a more practical level, independent artists often rely on commercial work to survive, and producers look to the artist for the innovation their products need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Oskar Fischinger's life and work are illustrative of the complex relationship between art and commerce. Born in Germany in 1900, Fischinger studied many crafts and arts, from organ-building to engineering and oil-painting. He is credited with many moving-image innovations, including a technique for wax-slice stop-frame photography and a coloured-image producing organ called the Lumigraph. As an animator, he is best known for his visual music films, of which Studie Nr.6 is an early example.

Throughout his life, Fischinger strived to work as an independent. He believed:
"The creative artist of the highest level always works at his best alone, moving far ahead of his time. And this shall be our basis: that the Creative Spirit shall be unobstructed through realities or anything that spoils his absolute pure creation."
(Fischinger, 1947).

Whilst this was the ideal towards he strived, Fischinger was not above taking commissions and commercial work. In 1940 he contributed to the visual development of the Toccata and Fugue sequence for Walt Disney's Fantasia. Although he left the project disenchanted with the industrial nature of production at Disney, his influence can be recognised in the finished film:

retrieved 22.04.2011
retrieved 22.04.2011