Today was the first day of my course and what a whirlwind of a day it was too.
After doing the sitting around the circle and introduce yourself sort of thing and getting introduced to more lectures we got some advice about how important it was to learn by doing and using the group as a sounding board for our ideas. It’s important not to become isolated from the group and fading into the background specially now that the group has become bigger than the previous years. We will have guest speaker every Thursday with a dedicated group of “Hunters and Gathers” finding and feeding people for us to network with.
After that the lectures proper started, Introduction to Animation. Beginning with latin word ‘anima’ meaning ‘soul, spirit or to give life to’. Humans have tried to bring life into their surroundings since cave men captured the moment before the kill on a hunt or the Arabic fountains bringing life to the surroundings by the way water moved in them. Humans like to play god and animation is the perfect media to create an alternate4 reality where everything and anything is possible. This facts attracts many live action directors to the medium (e.g George Miller, Happy Feet).
The history of animation goes back to the thaumatrope in 1824 and then the Phenakistoscope in 1832 and onto Zoetrope and Praxinoscope in 1877.
After seeing some animations from Emile Cohl we went on to watch a stampede scene from the Lion King, it is a very well thought out and put together scene which gets the audience emotionally involved in the story. Many devices are used in this scene such as Scar appearing out of the dust and Scar ewalking on the cliff edge with under-lighting, there is no reason light coming from underneath since it is day and the sun is shining but these devices are used for the purpose of the film, to further the story and communicate more clearly.
For contrast we then looked at some of Jan Svankmajer’s work and then the bus stop scene from Miyazaki’s Totoro, where the animation is ms more contamplative and is simply showing a mundane moment as opposed to a Disney film where everything is in the service of the story and anything which is not furthering the story is not included in the film. Disney films also spoon feed everything which is needed to know and there is no room for reflection or contemplation.
The next example was another extreme where limited animation is used to still communicate effectively in Roger Ramjet. Limited animation is used to suggest movement of characters and often clever devices are used to tell the story. Norman McClaren’s experimental animations showed what a fine artist could do when elements of time were added in to their work.
Animation reduces unimportant elements and refines to be left with the essence of something and it is this abstraction of a series of images which can be used to tell a visual poem, or to create a perfectly timed gag, or a surreal world which would not be possible with live action.
On we went to the principles of animation and explaining the different frame rates and how they originated and 1/25 or 1/25 sec being the smallest sample that the animator would need to concern with. Because we leave in the physical world we will respond to elements which seem to obey physical laws such as weight, gravity and inertia. This leads us to easing in and easing out which describe the way objects change speed in an animation.
Other principles which were mentions were Squash and Stretch where the volume of an object retains its volume while changing dimensions. And anticipation where a preliminary preparatory actions setups up an expectation in the audience about what is going to happen next.