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In my last journal I mentioned the strange effect of seeing super cartoony flat characters moving around in a hyper realistic world. There's actually a name for this, it's call the "masking effect" and it was quite elaborately detailed by Scott McCloud in his book "understanding comics."

In comics, frequently the main characters are portrayed as cartoony and simple, while backgrounds often get very detailed. The basic concept is pretty simple. The more cartoony a character is drawn, the more appealing and relatable it is to us as we can more easily imagine ourselves in the role. The more realistic something is, the less of a personal connection you have to it. This is why villains tend to be drawn more realistically, and heros more cartoony. But it goes beyond just the characters... the environment also is affected.

If a person in a cartoon picks up a sword and starts swinging it around, the sword becomes an extension of their body and since it's animated, it becomes a drawn thing which needs to be simplified. If the character stops to look at the sword, suddenly the extreme detail will become apparent and the sword will look less cartoony. In animation this is more or less a result of the fact an actual animator has to draw it all by hand, but I think the concept works very well. It's also one of the few things we've lost with the advent of digital animation.

In previous movies, if a character had to open the door or drink a cup of tea, the door and cup would be drawn by hand. Now with computers, we don't have to draw all those details and can animated 3-D objects with painted textures to marry them more with the backgrounds, which I feel is a loss of that sense of the object becoming an extension of the character. In certain scenes it would be easy to tell what objects were going to be moved simply because they had to be hand drawn and thus stand out from the backgrounds. Now with the advent of computer animation that can actually lead to some surprises, but I personally feel the hand drawn element makes things much more personal and I am saddened by it's loss in films today.

It also feels a bit like cheating to me. Go watch the movie Porco Rosso, in which all of the airplanes were drawn by hand. To me that's a beautiful craft and it really says a lot about the studio for being able to spend so much time making the planes move so gorgeously frame by frame. If that movie was done today, there's no doubt the planes would be computer animated, and it wouldn't have the same personal feeling to it. And no, I'm sorry but throwing a cel-shading filter effect over it doesn't compensate.

Moving on to frame rates...
In the west we like to fool ourselves into believing that we actually DO draw and animate at 24 fps. In actuality it's a bit more technical than that...

Film runs at 24 frames per second constantly, so that doesn't change. What does change is the number of frames used to animated a character. In most Disney movies the animation is done at 12 frames per second, which means that for every 2 frames of film, there is a change in the artwork. The exceptions to this rule are when you need a character to move fast, or when the camera is moving. The camera always moves at 24 fps, resulting in nice smooth pans. If a character is running or moving fast, the animation is often done at the same speed, resulting in nice smooth movements.

Holds are when an animation cel is "held" for multiple frames. In limited animation, this is a godsend because it allows for cheaper production by holding on a pose, while only the mouth or eyes move. Anime, which tends to be very cheap, uses the same procedure. Frequently a character will hold a pose while their mouthes flap. Sometimes this can go on for a long time, alternating between a couple minute poses to keep things from falling too flat. You very rarely see this style of animation in Disney films (with the exception of some early experimentation in the 50's and 60's), though you will see it frequently on TV shows due to budget constraints.

The reasoning is obvious. If an animator had to draw every single frame, it would take forever to finish. Shorthands had to be found to make the work load easier, and holds are one of them. This is also why I sometimes cringe at the idea of calling Anime full Animation, because frequently there really ISN'T much animation at all. Even in highly respected movies like the Studio Ghibli ones, while the animation is spectacular, there are still lots of holds, mouth flats, and a VERY slow frame rate. Depending on the type of action, Ghibli films can often run as slow as 3 frames a second... though I think the actual frame rate is more closer towards 8.

One of the few exceptions to these rules is "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" which was animated at 24 fps not because it was the best choice, but kinda because they HAD to. Since every frame of live action film is different, Roger Rabbit was animated at 24 fps to make sure both the animation and the action were in synch with each other, otherwise a strange staccato effect might be perceived. This was also a bit source of it budget woes and deadline issues, since the added amount of animation work and technical problems made things more difficult.

This is also one of the main reasons why (when I was in college for animation) I kind had issues with Anime. So many students were obsessed with anime they'd make these elaborate storylines but have extraordinarily limited animation. They thought they were being so creative... but then baulked when they got failing grades on their assignments. And yeah, the real reason behind that is because they were supposed to be learning about animation and they weren't actually "animating" anything other than mouth flaps. It's really hard to teach about weight and squash and stretch, when most Anime don't even have that.

Speaking of mouth flaps, that's another key difference between western and eastern productions. For westerners, the audio comes first. We record all the audio and then animate TO that audio. In Japan, it's almost universally the opposite. The characters are animated first with generic mouth flaps, and THEN the audio is dubbed over it. So when we see mouth movements that don't match up in english, the Japanese are also seeing the same thing in their own native language. I'm not entirely sure why they do it this way, or how they know how long to have the mouths flap for each scene... but it's very infrequent that they animate to the audio the way we do. Also, due to the language, mouths tend to be left open at the end of sentences which can cause some problems for dubbing into other languages.

Now, I shouldn't have to say this but not everything I talked about should be treated as fact, the right way, or the only way. A lot of what I wrote is opinion based (with some facts for reference) and should be treated as such. I speak broadly and of course there are ALWAYS exceptions.

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:iconjhakaro:
Jhakaro Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  Student Filmographer
There's a lot I could talk about here but I'll just state one important fact you have completely wrong. No studios animate at 12 fps nor does Ghibli animate at 3 fps or 8 fps. Saying we like to fool ourselves into thinking we animate at 24 fps etc. is stupid because we actually do animate at 24fps. Everyone does, otherwise it'd look slow as hell and choppy. Our eye needs to see 24 frames (or more) per second for it to appear smooth and real to our eye. What you may mean however is that, we animate on 2's so there is only a changed, new drawing every 2 frames therefore resulting in 12 DRAWINGS for a second of animation but it is still at 24 FRAMES per second cycling speed. Sometimes in anime for lip sync and smaller movements they animate on 3's or even 4's but it is still all at 24fps. If you animated at 3 fps it'd be completely unwatchable. Don't mean to be bad but get your facts right before you start informing others on it, that only leads to misinformation and general ignorance. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
More or less you're just reiterating what I said in a different way. It ultimately results in the same thing. Semantics.
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:iconjhakaro:
Jhakaro Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2014  Student Filmographer
Not exactly, even if you meant what I said, what you said is actually a different thing entirely, it doesn't result in the same thing at all. I don't mean it in a bad way or anything, just for future reference.
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:iconhopelesscomposer:
HopelessComposer Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013
You don't have any idea what the fuck you're talking about. ='D
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:iconkkooltteok:
KkoolTteok Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013
Really good read. I think that the mouth flapping, recording sound after animation is done and other cost-cutting measures Japanese use come from anime's roots in low budget animations made by people who were not animators. I heard that in his early days as an animation director, Tezuka was hiring comic artists and whatnot who knew nothing about animation, so he simplified the work for them to make animation as close to drawing static pictures as possible, hence mouth flapping from open to closed, very few inbetweens almost to the point that the anime looks choppy, and super detailed character designs.
Of course the amount and quality of talent available in Japan has grown leaps and bounds since then, but there are a few cost cutting measures that stick around more for legacy and hard-to-break habit than anything (the only reason I can think of why the peeps at Ghibli can animate a gorgeous, complex fight scene, then screw up making a mouth do anything more than flap like a fish's when someone's talking. Either they're specifically not caring about certain facets of animation, or they're learning how to win Gold at the Olympic track and field before learning how to crawl, lol).

One good thing about this is that the vast majority of TV anime are very cheap in cost, so theoretically there's a lot more money to go towards more productions, rather than drop a load of cash on a few series. That is one thing I dislike about American TV animation, much (maybe most) of it is paid for by TV networks, rather than animation studios themselves. These TV networks want the animations that will make them back the most money, often meaning shows with both wide appeal and storylines that can potentially go on forever. So we get a disproportionately large amount of certain genres (comedy for one) and resetting or very long stories. I doubt a show meant to tell its story in just 13 episodes would get picked up by a network quickly, because it has less market potential for the network than something eternally reusable. Of course Japan has these too, but TV anime that don't appeal to wide audiences are much more common.
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:icon81scorp:
81Scorp Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist
Speaking of animations: Here are 2 of mine! And by "2 of mine" I mean these are the only ones I´ve done so far.
[link]
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:iconcarpenoctem410:
carpenoctem410 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2012  Student General Artist
Some comments are so hateful, I can't even believe it -.-
And I also don't know why so many people hate rotoscoping so much. Yes of COURSE free animation is harder and the animators should have all our respect, but also, it isn't like those animators that do rotoscoping couldn't draw those movements that they "trace" freely as well. It saves time and is more realistic. Movies are about budget as well.
You know, when I look at Disney movies like Fantasia, the elements like water drops, fire, ice etc. almost make me cry because I can clearly see the effort the animator has had to draw this frame by frame. It's so beautiful that I really don't care about it being rotoscoped or not.
I also ask myself if people who don't like rotoscoping hate motion capturing as well.

I'm quite sure you know about this one, but in my opinion it's one of the best examples for rotoscoping being art, too: [link]
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:iconmalta:
malta Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Just piping in to agree that I also miss the old days of animation, when you could indeed spot what items were going to move because they didn't look painted like the rest of the backgrounds did. I think it used to bug me slightly as a child, but I've come to like it far more growing up. The backgrounds, even though they are beautifully painted, are sometimes a bit flat, and those little cel shaded objects seem almost alive in comparison.

Have you also noticed how in anime series, once you get a few episodes in and reach the point where the studio was starting to run out of budjet, the animation gets even MORE static and repetitive, with more scenes that are back and forths between several characters 'mouth flapping'. As much as I enjoy the stories in a lot of animes, they really only have about 5 different expressions and sets of movements. Older western cartoons had so much movement and expression, I think I'd describe the toons as elastic.

Do you know what kind of paint Disney would use on their backgrounds? I know Ghibli uses Nicker Poster Paints (which aren't available outside of Japan or Korea. Yay.) I'm currently experimenting with a mix of watercolours, liquitex acrylics and warhammer paints :D much fun!
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:iconmidnightmagnificent:
MidNightMagnificent Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think rotoscoping is just an awesome way of animating, and the old ways of doing so is very charming.

This video of one of Alan Parson's songs, "Don't Answer Me" is one of my all-time favourites, and I still find the whole thing to be insanely charming.

[link]

Rotoscoping, right? It's very nice. And despite all the hyper realism of animated movies nowadays, they just don't hold a candle to the old stuff.
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:iconcuttlefisher:
Cuttlefisher Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your art is possibly the most god awful thing I've ever seen. You act like an expert on art, yet you draw these unfunny cartoons, with a bland, uninspiring art style. The hypocrisy you display actually makes me ill.

Please, learn some humility, although im fairy sure you'll just delete this because "hurr durr he said im not purrfuct!!"
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:iconchickah-dee:
Chickah-Dee Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
^ thank you, I'm glad someone said it!
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:iconsuperspongenova:
SuperSpongeNova Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011
How in the Hell can you support rotoscoping? You sound like such an uneducated person, rotoscoping is literally tracing, only in massive amounts. It's tracing! It doesn't matter how nice or what medium or the method it's done in it is, it's tracing, it's not drawing!
Good god, man, I want to be able to say "aw leave Preston alone, he's getting a bad rap," but you sure come off with some pretty wonky arguments. People draw digitally, and there are a lot of us digital illustrators that believe in using actual skill we work on than relying on cheap tricks, which I'm hoping is the cause of your aversion to it. Either way, man, rotoscoping. Lamest animation form.
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:iconcarpenoctem410:
carpenoctem410 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2012  Student General Artist
How about rotoscoping being a way to cooperate with different types of artists? Like, musician, dancer and animator? And there's always a way for the artist to get their own style into the rotoscoped sequences :)
[link]
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:iconsuperspongenova:
SuperSpongeNova Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2012
Actually, "Thought of You" was motion-referenced, not rotoscoped. He animated gestures from videos he saw. Very big difference. One is essentially a foundation of figure drawing done over and over and over again, and the other would be drawing directly onto an image. Rotoscoping has its place, but to me, largely for effects and commercial use.
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:iconcarpenoctem410:
carpenoctem410 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Student General Artist
Hm, I remembered from the making-of that he was drawing over the filmed dancing sequences, but maybe I'm wrong ... I'm sorry then ^^
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A Scanner Darkly
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:iconsuperspongenova:
SuperSpongeNova Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2011
A Scanner Darkly uses /interpolated/ rotoscoping. It's literally the computer doing the majority of the work, it's even less animation than traditional rotoscoping.
"Like Fantavision and Adobe Flash, Rotoshop allows for interpolation between keyframes. Once the artist has drawn key frames at the start and end of a time period, the program automatically generates intermediate frames. It is a simple form of "automatic tweening." Interpolated lines and shapes have a very smooth, fluid motion that is extremely difficult to achieve by hand-drawing each line."
So I don't know why you're thinking this is something special. It looks cool, but for the love of god, don't start assuming that it's a sign of amazing animation just because it's smooth. Tweening is smooth, but it doesn't take any skill to put a circle in one keyframe on Flash and "tween" it to move smoothly along a path to another position.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like that. Give a fine example of excellent rotoscoping done with care and attention to detail, and it "doesn't count."
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:iconsuperspongenova:
SuperSpongeNova Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011
Okay so
you're not like
Actually interested in animation at all, just things looking pretty. You don't care that it's a piece of video run through a computer program, similar to putting the "edges" filter on or doing that "colored pencil" effect in Photoshop. I see.
WELLLLLLLLLLLLP then I have nothing further to discuss with you, have fun on your journey to popular disapproval, you're doin' a great job makin' the big kids like you, champ.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Um it's not a filter effect. Every frame was adjusted by an animator on the computer. The images built up gradually by animating different layers with different colors and shapes.

Fine, you want other better examples of good rotoscoping? Ah-Ha's "Take on Me" music video.
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:iconsuperspongenova:
SuperSpongeNova Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2011
Adjusted is not the same thing as creating from scratch, why is it such a difficult concept for you to understand how even messy animation with LIFE behind it is far more impressive and meaningful than clean and "nearly" automated animation?
It's still using real life to trace in one form or another. The work is tedious, but the hardest of it is already done. The hardest thing in animation is creating movement. Glen Keane can walk through the animation process with just his understanding of force and life dynamics, he doesn't sit there and "adjust" over a piece of film.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Look, I don't know what your problem is. Just because I like some rotoscoping or know a couple good uses of it, doesn't mean I support it or am trying to prop it up more than traditional animation. Jesus christ, relax.
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:iconinkymint:
Inkymint Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Someone as obsessed with polished, refined traditional works and the cleanliness of line could really stand to clean up his own fill-bucket color and wobbly, uncertain, muddy lines...
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:iconray-the-sun:
Ray-The-Sun Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011
Ah yes, you're saying is that Anime is better than any western art including Chomet but excluding your art because your art is infallible.
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:iconaxl99:
axl99 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
As this is an opinionated post, it automatically comes with bias.

There is no clear attempt to empathize with the artists who work with different production pipelines in different studios, nor any actual first hand knowledge of how most animation is created in whichever medium whether it's for television, film, or games.

Which in other words:
Take that post with a huge grain of salt. This guy can say whatever he likes, but fact of the matter is you guys don't have to believe a single word he says. He hasn't watched enough films and tv shows to justify his opinions.
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:icongiantmoray:
GiantMoray Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011
but you draw anime yourself
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:iconrinkinkeen:
Rinkinkeen Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
After reading stuff like this from you and other artists here, it's impossible for me to watch a cartoon without thinking about the method and quality of the animation. While I was watching the new episode of Thundercats a while ago, I kept thinking, "Holy crap, this is animated way better than most anime!" And whenever I watch Pokémon now, I think, "Yeeeeaaahhh, this is pretty crappy."
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:iconhavkatt:
Havkatt Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Animation comes in different shapes.
I got to agree with you. Many animes are poorly animated, but in exchange they often have detailed characters and just properly done drawings. Also, some animes have really good animation, but only for the scenes with a lot movement.

To begin with I didn't like 3D animation very much, but after I've seen the newer movies I can't honestly say it's bad anymore.

3D and movies made with a lot digital help may be good, but it still can't beat the respect classic 2D should have.

It is all about preferences.
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:iconozziescribbler:
OzzieScribbler Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thanks so much for that journal. A very interesting lecture with some in depth info. I'd love to see more entries like that dedicated to describing animation 'behind the scenes' from you :)
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:iconkryione:
Kryione Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
Hey,I read Understanding Comics!:D
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:iconthetravelingartist:
TheTravelingArtist Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Student General Artist
I like the way this journal presents Animation techniques along with it's technical commentary notes on films. I learned something new, thanks Tom Preston. :)
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:icontlcreate:
TLCreate Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Professional General Artist
VERY helpful, thank you very much for this information :icongreatjobplz:
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:iconzeltrix:
Zeltrix Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011
Mkay. Few things. I agree with you on the ideal that the items become part of the character in a way when animated like that, and I would be very interested in a movie that took full advantage of that in a symbolic story telling nature. But here's the funny funny thing about that: Those little items are the exact same as using 3D renders in art. Making something more simple so it can be animated easier and cheaper. (Also, your concept there doesn't extend to when a character opens a door, the door never truly becomes part of the character, it's always been part of the background, obviously labeled as the one door that's going to be opened, always felt a little cheap to me, but I understand the constraints)

Now, I will agree with you again, that in most cases 3D looks hideous when it's been hastily put together for the sake of animation ease, and thus not only does it lose cohesiveness, it loses a certain level of artistic integrity. But here's the thing, when the 3D objects are built with painstaking attention to style and cohesiveness, they are cheaper, quicker, and allow for sequences that couldn't happen otherwise, sometimes even enhancing the action and effectiveness on the 2D level. Not to mention that there are some things required for certain storylines that simply cannot be animated by hand.

But you know what my argument is? My Little Pony: Friendship is magic. Characters almost never in hold positions because they move their entire body as they speak, perfectly cohesive environment where the things that move literally have the exact level of detail as the things that don't move, which would make you think they were slacking off in their backgrounds, but you'd be wrong, every scene is filled with details and artwork. The attention to the way that the characters move, their facial expressions, their body language, the bounce in their hair, and the way they dance, almost nopony (couldn't help it) moves like any other even though they all use the same basic model that they are animated from. All of it is superb. The writing is rather fantastic as well, but that's a totally different story.

Also note that I am not an art student, and I have little to no talent with drawing or animating at all, so my opinions are not backed with a lick of fact other than perhaps coincidence.

I may argue with you over MLP:FiM though.... :iconpinkieseestooplz:
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:iconnuvalo:
nuvalo Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is the first journal that i'm glad to see in the front page thanks to faves :).

I'm not an expert in animation, but i already have realized that Anime sometime means "very cheap animation". It looks really odd, i don't like the way they animate, also one of the worst things that they invented is the "mouth in a side". I mean, when you see a character that is talking to another, if the we only see one half of his face and they need to animate his mouth, they just stick it. It is horrible to see that effect, and anime always abuse it. Even the "important" anime studios work this way, it is sad to say it. The only well animated anime movies that i have found are from 80's or before. I remember watching Akira and thinking that they did a great effort, very well animated.

In the other hand we have western animation, where the animation techniques are better, but i don't like the plots. You can find 5 good plots in anime before you can find 1 good plot in western animation productions. I wish that someday eastern and western animation productors could join their efforts and create better products.
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:iconlucas420:
lucas420 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:thumbsup:
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:icondisturbingcalamity:
disturbingcalamity Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011
(I know you don't hate anime, so just thought I'd add that quickly coz I don't wanna come across that way!) But I agree with the problem in anime. I mean, I love anime and watch far too much of it when I should be doing more productive things (bahah, whoops) but I've always hated the mouth flaps. Just one picture the whole time, with their mouth moving. But now I at least understand why they do it. I try not to judge too much, because I know that I personally would not be able to do anything even close to their skill, but sadly, I still do.
And thank you for explaining the background thing! Here I just thought it was all hand drawn (yes, I'm fairly ignorant) but I understand now. I actually went and got all the Tales from Earthsea books out from the libraray today to see if they're any better than the movie haha!
Love reading your journals, they're quite in depth, and explain alot.
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:iconsecretwalrus:
SecretWalrus Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
At the same time, I feel like these technologies can be used well to save the animators some work... but more from saving them from what would be a life sentence to the same shot. Sylvain Chomet's films Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist are pretty good examples of how this technology can be incorporated well to keep details high but save people time (except for the ending shot in Illusionist, it totally broke the effect). The world is cohesive because he also adds so much texture to the characters to make sure they fit in with the detailed backgrounds. I personally enjoy the liveliness and the business that these techniques can portray, it makes things feel more immersive.
Oppositely, you can look up how over-animating complicated things can destroy a film if you look for The Thief and the Cobbler Re-Cobbled. Tons of gorgeous traditional animation throughout, but Richard Williams' ambitions got the better of the film and his funding and his project were taken away from him just before he finished. It was a tragedy of over ambitious work. Much blame certainly goes to the investors since he was nearly complete, but it was almost 30 years in the making.

My point is, now we can see things with the level of detail from the original idea behind the Thief and the Cobbler with a little bit of modern help, and we won't have to wait 30 years to see it. I'm in support of these advancements for the field of animation, but that doesn't change the fact that if somebody handed me a cel from the war machine scenes of TatC I would be afraid to touch it out of it's sheer awesomeness. There is definitely great value in the willpower alone that goes into creating such works.
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:iconchirart:
chirart Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
How can the advent of new techniques in animation which allow things to be made faster, easier, and more cost-efficient be "cheating" if it's in the pursuit of better quality?
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Because it comes at the cost of the craft.

For example, Disney used to ink the outlines of all their cels with colors. When the photocopier came along to save time and money they began using it to transfer the clean up work directly onto the cels, which came at the cost of those gorgeous outlines and subtle drybrush/airbrush effects used on previous films like Fantasia.

I'm not saying we should go back. But I don't think there's anything wrong with commenting upon what we're losing.

A 3-D computer model with a cel-shader effect rendered over it will never be as impressive to me as an actual hand drawn image.
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:iconpupukachoo:
pupukachoo Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Filmographer
So wait, are you saying that film of artistic, stylistic and cinematic triumph like 101 dalmations that uses the xerox technology was actually a step backwards?

I mean, I really hear you man... I LOVE and totally respect, floored and worship things like Fantasia and Sleeping Beauty....works I consider art far more than cartoons. Literally just moving paintings... but 101 Dalmations is also a work of pure art. The rough lines were actually a stylistic choice from that era and they're best seen in 101 Dalmations. Even still, seeing Milt Kahl's lines so clearly due to the rough cleanup in works like The Rescuers really makes me appreciate the craft of the art and the emotion of the line more than a perfectly cleaned up line. The feel of the animator's personality seems to come out more in those works

it's all, of course, opinion and preference and trust me, I HATE the direction Disney went in during their little foray into the world of terrible CGI movies but I am also a firm believer that the many styles of animation can be appreciated for their technique and advent. Disney himself was all about innovation. He never wanted to be stuck in the past... I do wish he'd been around longer to guide the company towards the goal of innovation for the sake of artistic exploration but one thing can be said, the man was a pioneer and I'm sure if given the chance he would have embraced digital and 3d as well.

It's all an art and like art, there's all these different styles. Some are less enjoyable than others but as an artist I feel we should be able to objectively look at a piece by its own personality and existence rather than holding everything to a carbon copy standard.

As for anime... some series are terrible when it comes to animation, but some series are so brilliant in how they handle the limited budget and the standard of the 8fps. Let's say Shows like Azumanga and Ouran, both have truly brilliant limited animation that actually use the limitations for the sake of comedic timing. It's a bit of a "JAWS" syndrome, I think when it comes to really well done limited animation.... the less you see the shark and the more brilliantly you edit and time it the more interesting your effect can become.
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:iconi-ray:
I-ray Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
[link]

truly great Japanese animators turned limited animation into an art form and used it to create various super-uniqie styles of motion that simply wouldn't work if they were animated super-smoothly. but tom preston is clearly very biased when it comes to these things so I don't expect to change his mind.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It was a stylistic choice only in reaction TO the limitations of the new technology. The photocopying method was unclean and didn't produce the same beautiful lineart that was done before. In reaction to this and to make the film more unified, the rest of production matched the style. So yeah, in a way, it WAS a step back. It wouldn't be for almost 30 years afterwards before colored ink lines would come back thanks to the advancements in digital technology.
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:iconpupukachoo:
pupukachoo Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Also the thing about your prop argument... I'm assuming Sleeping Beauty falls into your "still good" timeline but you're aware that the prince was practically rotoscoped and his final battle with maleficent in her dragon form looks so weird because the referenced sword was a weightless prop sword? :o reference and "tricks" have always been used... I'm not trying to start a fight or an argument, I just think perhaps you're idealizing the good old days. I wish animation could still be as it was but it was far from perfect back then as well :o
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The movement of the object isn't what I'm talking about, but just the fact that it was drawn by hand. Even if it was rotoscoped, a person still had to draw it. This is why I am more impressed with things like Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings than I am with things like Polar Express. Same basic principal, but to me, Lord of the Rings is much more impressive because it's all hand drawn... even if it was from a source.
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:iconpupukachoo:
pupukachoo Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Filmographer
So no appreciation for the animator's lines? :o

Man, 101 dalmations is considered one of Disney's most beautiful films in history by so many people in the industry... just weirds me out to hear someone dismissing it as a step back.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As much as I, as someone who loves animation, appreciate being able to see guide-lines and rough pencil-like artwork in the movies... I feel on a whole that that's not something which ultimately SHOULD be shown in an animated movie. And since it wasn't a conscious decision to do that originally, and more or less a result of the photocopying mechanical process, yeah I feel that switching from hand inked outlines to a machine process was detrimental to the "craft" of animation.

Doesn't make the movie less gorgeous or amazing on a technical level. But if you compare 101 Dalmatians with something like Sleeping Beauty, or fantasia... my goodness, how can you possibly think 101 lives up to that same level of attention to detail and craft?

Hand painted ink outlines, gorgeously rendered stylistic backgrounds, beautiful multi-plane camera effects...
Compared to 101's flat, grubby, mechanically processed, and rough design. It's like night and day. I don't know how this is even an argument of quality and craft from the mere technical standpoint alone.
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:iconpupukachoo:
pupukachoo Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Filmographer
You can't hold 101 dalmations to Beauty or Fantasia, it's a totally different art style :o it'd be like apples and oranges. To appreciate them both, separately, is what I was saying. And yes, all the detail and attention to craft was still in 101. Everything in 101 , everything, was a thoroughly planned out thought... perhaps if someone cannot look at the style its drawn in and appreciate it (dismissing it as lazy or unfinished, as i've seen some people say... really terrible to hear that) then it's a sad day to think someone would compare Da Vinci to Picasso or Van Gough... they're different flavors of art.

I'm not arguing, let me remind you. I'm stating that they are both forms of art. Both styles are gorgeous but they are different. Comparing them is pointless because it is, in fact, night and day. It's fine to not like how something looks but understanding how its made and appreciating the craft, even if its different from what you prefer, is another matter entirely. 101 dalmations would not have even existed without technology... the film simply wouldn't have been capable of being produced and that would be one less piece of art, one less classic, one less timeless story for kids around the world to enjoy...

just saying, I agree - some films are absolutely unbelievably, respectable works of art and they should be cherished as the masterpieces they are. Fantasia will be - ALWAYS will be- a triumph of artistic integrity for the work, detail, love and heart put into it...

but that same amount of love, detail, work and art was put into a film like 101 where they used the innovation of technology to even make it possible.

Everything else... be it anime, cgi, stop motion, scratch film, flash, digital, paper, cel... it's all a matter of flavor. I may hate tomatoes but I appreciate that they exist. There will always be some rotten tomatoes but I think it's just a little sad to dismiss anything's merit because of a standard held so high that nothing else really can ever compare. Fantasia is Fantasia and, sadly, there will likely never be another one... but on the silver lining of that this means that these old films, these first experiments into full animation, should be valued and treasured even more as they are truly unique. If nothing ever changed, if everything in life stayed the same it would simply be so boring.

I do get what you're saying and I agree and disagree on points. I think you're a little mixed up on some of your facts and understandings of how these things work but I get what you're trying to say appreciate that you really do have a passion for these works that I completely agree are absolute masterpieces.
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:icontompreston:
TomPreston Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, they are both gorgeous in their own right...

But the fact is 101 Dalmation's style was not optional. It was a reaction to the fact the photocopying process was messy. Also, the introduction of the photocopying process cut out the jobs of the people who used to ink the outlines by hand, taking away part of the "craft." It's cause and effect. That shouldn't be opinion just simple facts.
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(1 Reply)
:iconpainted-bees:
painted-bees Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Ow, my heart 8(
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:iconpoweroptix:
PowerOptix Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, such cruelty to 101 Dalmations. D:
:hug: :(
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