Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Dinosaur went extinct

Okay, so I've heard the reasons for why Chicken Little is considered Disney's first "all CG animated feature." Dinosaur used "digitally enhanced" live-action photography for the backgrounds instead of creating everything from scratch. But is that any reason to snub it? The ad campaign for Chicken Little made it seem as though Disney had never ventured into the realm of CG before. The technicality of "all-CG" is easily lost on the critics, press and audience who overlook the "all" and think "oh, Disney's first computer film." I imagine it must be disheartening to those artists at The Secret Lab who spent years working on creating realistic looking dinosaurs, pushing the envelope of computer graphics like never before.

Let's give those guys some credit! Dinosaur is still a stunning film, even if it does follow a plot semi-similar to another dinosaur movie...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On gender roles (or the lack thereof) in animation

My friend Gloria and I were chatting late last night about The Incredibles and how she saw Edna Mode as a "flamboyantly gay man." It became a long discussion about the idea of gender in animation and how there is a disjunct between image and voice in a character, and how it is easily exploited because of style and exaggeration in the medium of animation that is not so effective in live-action film or theatre.

An excerpt from a posting in her LJ:

Edna the "character" is a female, based on the famous Hollywood costume designer (and a favorite of Hitchcock's) named Edith Head.

Edna the "voice" is male, done by Brad Bird himself (the director of The Incredibles) after auditioning several actresses and not finding any satisfactory voices to caricature Edith's outlandish personality.

FYI, Brad Bird is not gay. ;)

That being said, gender crossovers are nothing new for animation. Mel Blanc often voiced female characters in the Looney Tunes, and one could almost count on Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd to crossdress every other cartoon or so. Ranma switches between male and female with a splash of water. Nancy Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson, Christine Cavanaugh was the voice of Chucky on the Rugrats.

The stylization and exaggeration of cartooning and animation give rise to the suspension of disbelief, thereby making it easy to mix genders and even species. This is because visual cues are more powerful than audible cues; a drawing of a woman is more convincing of the gender than the voice behind it. And because animation has no basis in reality, it is more effective than, say, a theatre production where people wear masks.

A Sketch Blog? Not quite...

So I got myself a Blogger account mainly so I could comment on other people's blogs, but figured I could use this as a journal to post things that I find interesting about the animation field or anything related to animation. Considering the definition of animation that I used for my blog title, this presents a world of opportunities! I don't claim to be any sort of regular news blog like Luxo or I just post things that I find interesting, when I see/hear/do them. And if I ever get the time to actually draw something... well, it will be a momentous occasion worth posting for the world to see!