Thursday, November 19, 2009

Labels and Definitions

I received an interesting comment on my film yesterday which, despite its vagueness, I believe purported that it could be made in live-action and thereby raised the question as to ‘why do something in animation if it can be done in live-action?’

I agree with Marshall McLuhan in that the medium should fit [and is an integral part of] the message, but I do not believe the medium should be dictated by it per se, much less the message by the medium. And so while the question holds some validity in that it asks the film-maker to analyze why they have adapted a certain media and how they can use it to the best of its abilities in bringing about their message, it simultaneously imposes some severe limitations by underestimating the power of animation. Saturday morning cartoons and gabbering animals have their place, but I agree with instructors’ sentiments when they say there is an enormous amount of unexplored potential within our medium. Approaching subject matter in a new or unusual method allows the viewer to dwell on something in a different ‘setting’ or frame of mind; to poke and prod at it and flip it over a couple times.

Do we limit ourselves when we define things, label them, tell them what they ought and ought not be?


ChrisW said...

that particular criticism that gets leveled at animated stories- "why do it in animation?" crumbles under the following analogy:

creative person - "I've written a song! I'm going to play it on the piano!"

person who is artistically closed-minded- "but why play it on the piano, when it could be played on the violin?"

creative person (patiently)- "well, the song is the song. it's notes on paper. i've chose to play it on the piano, because i am very good at that instrument, and it sounds lovely when played upon it. granted, it COULD be played on the violin, but that's simply an instrument to make the song come to life.... and... i didn't write the song with the sound of the violin in my head... i heard it on piano."

person who is artistically closed-minded: "yes BUT- it could be played on the violin!"

creative person (with even greater patience, tinged with sarcasm)- "well perhaps YOU should write a song... and play it on the violin."

this argument- if it can be done in live action, why do it in animation is incredibly closed-minded. a puppet is very human like. a stop motion camera is very much like a live action camera. you light the puppet with real lights, on a real set. guess what then? odds are it COULD be shot in live action.

just because an idea doesn't have dogs with eyeballs stretching out of their heads doesn't mean it can't be done in animation.

thus endth my rant. sorry but when people say "it could be done in live action, why do it in animation" always burns my buns, because it's such a knee-jerk, negative, combative thing, usually said by someone who wants to appear superior and "wise".

ok... THAT ends my rant.

thank you.

Carla Veldman said...

yeah, said rant sums up my sentiments entirely.

Seeing as I'm an animation student, it's PRETTY likely I'd be making my final film in animation.

(Good analogy).

I personally love it when animation tackles heavier subject matter; when done successfully the pay-off/overall effect is huge, and the concept that a couple of mere drawings and story points can bring someone to some sort of emotional response (I have memories of my sister bawling over Dumbo when we were young) is astounding.