In this report I am going to talk about what I have learnt about my specialist subject which is Animation. I will be using the research I have conducted as the bases for my report. I will write about what influenced me to take animation as my discipline, from the history, to the social aspect, the cultural and industrial influences.
For unit 12 I have learnt a lot about Animation, where it came from, how it evolved, how it has been influenced and how it has influenced others including myself.
Research and practical experimentation has been key to my discipline. I looked at various animators to see how the created animations. I looked at Sam Nicholson and Daniel Hashimoto in particular. Daniel Hashimoto was the biggest influence and this was where my experimentation followed in particular. Partly due to the amount of tutorials that are available online but also what he creates. I will talk further about my experimentation later in this report.
From the historical point of view the factors that have influenced my specialist area is taking something ordinary and turning it into something fun, pushing the boundaries on special effects to create something that inspires people or makes them feel amazed by something.
From the Haunted Hotel to Gertie the Dinosaur to Moana, each one of these has made the people who have seen them amazed because at the time they were beyond anything else that had been seen.
Animation has existed for a long time, it started with a bet about a horse and since then skills and technology has advanced to what we have today. Along the way there were mistakes made and this created different effects which made objects appear and disappear and turn into other objects.
Without the bet on whether a horse takes all four hooves off the ground at once what we know about photography and animation would be completely different because of the equipment that was invented and the meetings great minds had for this to come to fruition may never have occurred.
Most animations created in the beginning where family friendly because they had to be simple, The Haunted Hotel was about a cup of tea being poured without anyone being present, the zeotrope was a simple looping animation of someone riding a bike for example and at the time they were great and fun for everyone to watch.
Films and art are apart of our culture, Animation can come into both of those fields, I have learnt that Animation can be used to tell stories, convey emotions and ideas, just like an artist does with a canvas.
There probably isn’t a day that goes by where someone can say I didn’t see any animation today, they are everywhere, TV, the internet, on our phones, electronic billboards and in stores that we shop.
The different types of Animation is what amazes me here, from puppetry like Punch and Judy on the beach which go back for years and years you get things like Button Moon and Dark Crystal / The Labyrinth and The Muppets (Jim Henderson), The Muppet’s Christmas Carol and The Nightmare before Christmas and more recently Kubo and the Two Strings. Some of these mix live action and puppetry (The Labyrinth and Muppets) and Kubo is stop-motion animation and puppetry as the Skeleton built to try and keep it in line with the animation style as the rest of the movie.
Animation varies in different cultures, the Japanese have anime and I believe that most of their ideas come from their rich history and customs.
The animations that come from Britain differ hugely, they seem to be about daily life or satirical events such as the cartoons you see in the newspapers.
The books we have are about little adventures like Squirrel Nutkin or Dennis the Menace, Spy novels, nothing extreme like you get comic books about super heroes, Britain has a culture of sports and niceties rather than exciting action movies and cartoons.
My kids like watching:
- Paw Patrol
- White Rabbit Project
along with various other programs. Not one of those is of English Origin, Paw Patrol is from Canada, which would account for the ski slopes in nearly every episode.
We have had some amazing writers such as Shakespeare and Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens and it seems that most of our animations follow this standard that seems to have been set or the British sarcastic point of view.
This follows through into the animations that we produce, some of which seem to be on daily life like Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine etc. to programmes like the IT Crowd and The Brittas Empire and cartoons such as Fireman Sam, Count Duckula, Dennis the Menace and 64 zoo lane just to name a few, most of which comprise of small events and morale stories, making friends etc., a tremendous amount of excitement seems to lack British Cartoons, but that is part of our culture and we appear to be quite happy with that.
American cartoons are completely different with the likes of Transformers, Mona the Vampire, Drake and Josh, Keenan and Kel, Sister Sister ( a couple of oldies) but teen sitcoms is apart of their culture, Wayside, again, cartoons and sitcoms about school, such as Saved by the Bell, Wayside, Alex mac, power rangers are all based with the younger generation / teens in schools because the school life is important part of their culture and the culture have a massive influence on animations to horror movies and most places in between.
The culture of a place depicts how the characters are going to behave because this is set out because of how people think that they should behave and what is expected from them and this varies from country to country.
Animation is influences by so many different factors, Hayao Miyazaki has made so many films and most have a strong lead character which is female, this typically goes against the social norm for Japan as females are usually made to be very sexualised and that is influenced by the men and is shown in so many animes such as Sailor Moon etc. Disney is also responsible for this type of animation, not so much sexualised but Pocahontas, Cinderella, Aurora to name a few had simple ideologies, to get married an live happily ever after, which is great, but it does give girls a limited view of how to be happy, the message here is you need a man to be happy, of course we know that’s not true.
Socially the message is getting across to Disney because we are seeing more and more films like Mulan (Technically not a princess as not born into royalty and marries someone in the army but is considered one in the Princess Line-up), Moana and Merida which have been Princesses in Disney/Pixar movies where they are about different values and how to be happy which is about family and friends, doing the right thing and end up happy that way. In all of the movies none of them get married.
This is why we see more movies from Hayao Miyazaki like Princess Mononoki and My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away, they all have strong willed characters who look like they belong in the real world. Miyazaki likes to have girls as the female lead because they look braver than if a man was in the film according Ryoko Toyama.
All the characters below are the lead protagonists of the movies, I have watched all of these except From up on Poppy Hill, I know that all these characters are strong willed and close to reality even though what happens in the films isn’t necessarily anything like reality .
These compared to the likes of Sailor Moon and even CardCaptors which is an anime for the younger generations.
These are also lead protagonists and you can see the difference, one is influenced by the Japanese norms and the other which is Hayao Miyazaki.
Same with Disney, you have Pocahontas and Moana. Moana definitely looks more natural, she is more relatable for the next generation of youngsters. I definitely prefer my daughter to watch Moana than Cinderella. Even Frozen has a really good story to it. Especially when Elsa says “You can’t marry a man you have just met” where in most other Disney movies Aurora, Snow White and Cinderella all got married really quickly.
There has also been rumors (fan made) that Elsa might be gay as in the movies she has no interest in male characters, this is no way indicating that she might be but as of last year the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend started going around and if that was to happen in a sequel it would be a bold move by Disney. It could also pave the way for a reform on the differences between people and how that they can be portrayed in movies. Tiana was recognized as the first African American princess for Disney, so things are changing and just as dolls are created to make them look like children with disabilities maybe Disney Films will follow suit one day.
Disney Princesses are trying to get away from the stereotype now of princesses and beauty where Beauty is apparently all they need, they don’t need a career, that how they look is all important. Moana has been the first “Disney Princess” that I can actually say that is O.K in my books, Her father wanted her to stay on the Island and as Maui says “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,”
As you can see they are princess, most where dresses (exempt: Ariel for obvious reasons and Jasmine as it traditional dress) but they all have sidekicks:
- Mulan and Mushu
- Ariel and Flounder
- Aurora and Woodland Animals
- Cinderella and Mice
- Jasmine and Raja
- Pocahontas and Meeko
- Moana and Pua and HeiHei on her travels across the sea.
- Snow White and birds
but Moana wanted more and left the Island to save the world and get back the heritage they lost as way finders. I feel the new message that they are trying to send out is if you believe in yourself then you can accomplish anything, that there is more to you than beauty. Moana stepped up where Maui couldn’t even though she was only 16.
The social views definitely has had an impact on the social aspects of animation and has started a change in how certain characters are portrayed. That women can be strong lead protagonists instead of the usual Prince’s saving the day because this doesn’t represent the views of girls and women today who like to be independent and have adventures.
Industrial factors has also changed the way animation has evolved over the years. The way technology has advanced animations have become bigger and better and we have come to expect it. The power of computers has allowed better animations, for example the wave animations used billions of particles to create and had to use several computers to data share in order to create this. We have 3 Dimensional and 4 Dimensional capabilities and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, some of these are cool, and I really enjoyed the 3D element to my Pokémon Alpha Sapphire game but was disappointed that it wasn’t taken through as an option for Pokémon Sun or Moon.
AR seems to be a big hit, It is quite good in Pokémon Go and it is also present in Snatch but it can be used for so many other things and it still seems very limited in what we see it in.
Due to the way the industry has evolved the next movie, game or animation has to be better than the last and sometimes that pushes things especially if they are at the brink of what they can do.
The Jungle book was filmed completely inside so they had more control over the lighting and no real animals were used in the filming.
Moana had new software created just so they could create the waves with a more natural look but with personality so it’s not just Industry influencing animation but the animation is influencing the industry in the way of requirements. This is to be expected though as we have become accustomed to the quality of the movies that we have been experiencing and I doubt that anyone would settle for the quality of a new Star Wars movie and then going back to the look of the Back to the Future movie, not that there is anything wrong with the Back to the Future movie as it was great when it came out but it is what people expect from now on.
Analysis of Contextual Perspectives
I have learnt that there is a lot that affects they way something is created.
- Is it socially acceptable and if not is it pushing it too far?
- If it fits within the norm has it been done before and now old hat and nobody cares?
- If it does fit and hasn’t been done to death is there a new twist that can be done to make it something new or exciting again? like Bomberman which is being re-released on the Nintendo Switch with some new features.
- Can the technology available keep up with the idea and if no can something be created to allow this idea to happen?
- Does the plot of the story keep in line with the culture? Style of clothing, landscapes, wording, environment etc. You wouldn’t have a historical story about Pocahontas for example without John Smith, it just wouldn’t work and some people might get offended as it is part of an important historical event. Even though there has been twists to certain story’s, namely Fairy Tales they have done it in a good way like:
- Fairy Tale in New York
- Once Upon A Time
- Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
- Grimm The TV series based of the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales.
I have also learnt how different types of animation have come together to create something new. Like Kubo and the Two Strings which came highly recommended from a friend of mine, Using puppetry and Stop Motion. Jungle Book:- Live Action and computer graphics .
- Alvin and the Chipmunks
- Jungle Book
- SpongeBob SquarePants.
I can use the knowledge I have gained from my research to experiment with what works and fits in with what I am trying to portray. If I am to create a story for cartoon for a child then using computer graphics would possibly not be the best and what if it was in another country then boundaries and art styles would change to suit the culture of the demographic. If I was to create a cartoon for the American demographic I would have to be careful about the subjects, trying to avoid delicate issues such as the current president, past atrocities, things that have happened to America but then I would make it like I would for the Japanese or for the English because they expect different things from their entertainment. Brambly Hedge would definitely not suit everyone.
I carried out a lot of research for this specialized subject, from the beginning of photography and animation to how animation has been created with different technologies and how they came to be and have evolved into to what we know today. I have learnt about the different social and cultural ideologies that have had an impact on the style of animations and their content that come from different countries. I have learnt that history also plays a big part on the content and evolution of animation as inspiration has to come from somewhere and it usually is past events because it is something we know and can build on.
I know what kind of animations work together, like puppetry and stop motion, live action and stop motion could also work, live action and computer graphics/animations.
I have learnt more about myself and what influences my work, I have learnt about my working style and what motivates me when it comes to animation. I know what animation artists I look up to like Daniel Hasimoto Also known as Action Movie dad and Sam Nicholson who owns Stargate Studios.
Science fiction also influences my work which is why I also like the work of Daniel Hashimoto and Sam Nicholson as Sam worked on TV series like Heroes and Daniel makes home made movies come to life using After Effects.
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