animation for adults

according to the BBC, the top ten animations for adults includes Bambi. (which I haven't seen; I hate the wide-eyed cuteness of Disney animals and can't forgive what they did to the Sword in the Stone). They are basing this list on feature-length movies, so some of the more joyous visuals and characterisations can't be included as they belong to TV series or to shorts.

But Id certainly agree with When the Wind Blows, Persepolis, and Belleville Rondez-vous...(Great storylines, great drawings with their own style ...and faithfully adapted from the books to recreate the whole mood). They have Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which was great but if I could only take one Aardman onto a desert island it would be The Wrong Trousers. (Deeper exploration of the relationship between Wallace and Gromit, more visual energy...).But what makes an "adult animation"? (does rotoscoping count?) ... this list implies (apart from "adult themes" which might mean sex and/or drugs) darkness, depth, but also truth - historical fact, biography or documentary.. with a serious issue at its heart. A balance of joy and horror...



So this week I discovered something about matching...
At the beginning of a new animation, you plan your characters and you know what you want them to look like - simplified, light on gender-specifics...you worry about character development - or lack of it - but tell yourself this is a story about how people behave in groups, not individuals... But then you want to put in a dog.
The first dog was great, sort of a cross between two dogs from my past (Jason, a cocker spaniel, and Cassie, a german shepherd)...but much too...doggy. It made the people look half-made. It didn't match.
So I had to simplify it. The new one looks a bit like a sheep, but it works better...  There's a moral here - but not so much about the need for planning and storyboarding and pencil tests, more about looking for the simplified indicators of the character, of gender, of species. Oh and looking at what you're doing!!


Recycle, Remix, Return to Basics

Still from BlueSky animationFirst completed film of the year is Blue-Sky...a recut and savagely edited version of Islands (5 minutes plus down to 1'15)...not all of the narrative but the essence of the story with a different emphasis. This was a really interesting editing challenge and makes you think about the story/ the pace/ what is essential and what is spare....Letting go. Also, interesting to explore how not having time for lots of exposition at the beginning makes you ask yourself how do I establish the sense of community, friendliness, self-sufficiency? And oddly, this loss of context also affects the reading of gender...I found I needed to do some subtle redrawing of the characters here and there to clarify
Made for the Amy Johnson anniversary celebrations in Hull (my one-time home town)...Hope they decide to accept it. But either way, a big piece of learning....

Animation Research

5 generic figures - which are female?So - helping to interview prospective students for the 'comics' degree at Teesside, being surprised by the popularity of one single style of cartoon and the stereotypes of how women and men are represented in them...This has made me decide to do some proper research into gender representation in animation.
The much quoted statement from head of animation for Disney's Frozen - "Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty" should be obviously irrelevant to most animators outside the BigBoxOffice - because in animation, as in life, women (or girls) are not necessarily pretty...and especially not when they are being crazed, furious, or triangular.
crossing sign - green man...or green womanPlease, if you are a student, or even if you are not...DO NOT suppose that to make your generic character female you should put a bow in its hair or enlarge its eyelashes. Especially if it is a robot. Instead, observe what signifies actual masculinity and maybe think about making your generic character male by e.g. giving him a moustache.
You will have to work harder to observe whether women and men actually have different facial characteristics and what they are... and to what extent they can be represented in a minimalistic cartoon. To notice whether men and women stand, move, gesture in different ways. And also to consider whether it really matters if people can instantly identify that robot as female or male anyway.