As the illustrations editor for the Daily Sundial, I like to voice my comments and opinions by making cartoons. Short, simple, to the point.
Every now and then though, something comes up that makes me feel the need to go into more detail and write about the problem that’s bothering me. Today, that problem is the lack of respect animation gets as a form of filmmaking. I myself am an animation major, which means I’m supposed to care more about this wonderful medium than most. So, I usually just brush it off when I hear people say, “Oh, cartoons are for kids,” or “I’m too old for that.”
But as I watched the Oscars two weekends ago, a compulsion came over me that I couldn’t keep bottled up. The nominees for the “best animated short film” were about to be announced when the presenter gave what started off to be a nice speech. She spoke of the tireless animator, who alone draws all four thousand pictures to make an “amusing” short piece of work.
She actually said “amusing.” That’s right, amusing. She could have used any other word, like amazing, or beautiful, or well done, but nope. She said amusing, like what you tell a child when he does a handstand, or a friend who tells a bad joke and you don’t want to hurt his or her feelings. That word hit me like a slap in the face. So I’m here to explain to readers that animation is not “amusing,” but a wonderfully complicated type of filmmaking that takes time, talent and will.
Brad Bird, the director of the “The Incredibles,” the greatest animated film since the “Lion King,” and the underrated “Iron Giant,” worded it best when he commented, “animation is a medium, not a genre.” This is clearly true, because animation is filmmaking. It’s just that instead of utilizing of actors, an animator creates the world and actors, creating the picture-perfect image of what they are visualizing.
With the freedom of animation, one can make anything happen, with stories that have no bounds and where the expressiveness has no limits.
We have this notion that cartoons are just for children. Of course, there are animated shows geared toward an older audience, such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” These types of shows, however, are very few in numbers, and possess limited animation, according to the true rules of animation, due to logistical constraints.
And as much as I do not like Japanese anime, which features very limited animation, unoriginality in character design and weird stories, I have to say that the Japanese do understand that animation is a good source for more intelligent and high-brow movies. They know that a good action film can come from any medium.
The most important thing people should know about is the pure amount of time and talent put into creating an animated film. Creating the illusion of life is not an easy task. Artists and animators spend years learning how to properly animate a character to squash, stretch and flow across the screen. When one watches a Disney feature, they should remember that there are 24 individual pictures per second that make Simba move, and that they were all created by some tireless animator’s hand.
So please, do me a favor, and go watch that old cassette of “Beauty and the Beast” you have sitting around, and notice the wonderful character designs and backgrounds. Go rent the new DVD set of “Ren and Stimpy” and notice all the squash and stretch that is no longer seen in today’s cartoons.
And lastly, go watch the movie “The Incredibles,” and realize that this is as good as any live action movie, both in story and in action.