Animation

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Animation is the process of creating the illusion of motion and shape change by means of the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other.

Quotes[edit]

  • I wanted to stop acting. The director was like, 'It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica. Don't do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.' And I'm like, But there's no connection to a human being. And then it got me thinking: Am I not good enough? Are my instincts and my emotions not good enough? Do people hate them so much that they don't want me to be a person? Am I not allowed to be a person in my work? And so I just said, 'F--k it. I don't care about this business anymore.'
  • One really interesting technique that we used is occlusion. It creates shadows based on the proximity of one object to another. It's a way to avoid that glowy feel that computer animation has or the way mouths look like they're illuminated from inside. Occlusion, because it's a closed space in there, will darken that mouth immediately. Then when we add our texture and lighting on top of that, you have a bit more real look to the images you're creating. It's that extra layer of believability that computer animation is so great at.
    • Steve Anderson [1]
  • Japan will just no longer be the center of world animation. Maybe in five years, Taiwan will be such a center.
  • Hideaki Anno [2]
  • I made the first Appleseed specifically with anime fans in mind, but probably because of the use of computer-graphics and 3D we drew a far bigger audience than we expected. We thought "wow, it IS possible to reach a larger audience", so for the second film I tried to bring that to the next level and see just how far, how much larger we could make that audience. For one thing, the success of the first film brought us producer John Woo, and also Prada [the famous fashion designer, who created some costumes for the movie, AV] got on board. I was not really involved with that, those things were decided by the production team. But it was not like we hired a marketing firm to make those decisions for us, this was all based on personal contacts during pre-production.
  • Well, I think that if you look at facial expressions, at what we're now able to convey with those, we're definitely a step further. You shouldn't look for it in the big action scenes, but rather in the way people appear, the way their face looks... it's now far more detailed. Previously you would hear that we were trying to emulate reality but didn't quite succeed, something was missing, it was too clean, too cold... it obviously came from a computer and gave people who saw it the idea that... that something was wrong. In my opinion that is now no longer the case. I think we removed that negative feeling of... unease, so to speak, which people felt and noticed. We raised the bottom level of what we did, brought it up a lot, to get rid of that negative sensation.
So it's not like there is some new flashy surface, it's more about the removal of those bad impressions.
  • Aramaki Shinji [3]
  • Part of the fun of animation is not to be able to have carte blanche and do whatever you want, but really…Nanette moves very differently than Juliet. Juliet moves differently than Featherstone. Featherstone moves differently than Benny. All of the characters, depending on how their made – and, you know, Benny has his big, tall hat, he’s top heavy, so when he walks he has this little top-heaviness to him. All of those things are what the animators have the most fun with and it keeps the world real and it makes the audience relate to it. They can feel the weight of those characters and they can see the textures and they can smell that grass and that dewy morning with those flowers. All of that plays a part in the storytelling and therefore all of those elements are a character in the movie in their own way. That’s the best animation, that’s how it works, to me.
  • Kelly Asbury [4]
  • Avatar took seven years and so much budget and a James Cameron. There was always the insecurity of the unknown, but we have taken a road never taken in India and broken rules and have completed the film in just a year and a half.
  • Soundarya Ashwin [5]
  • "Even 'Jurassic Park III' tried to jump on the avian-dino bandwagon by making a brave attempt to adorn Velociraptor with a feathery hair-piece. (The result looked like a roadrunner's toupee- don't blame the effects-artists; it's notoriously difficult to render feathers in computer graphics animation, so we'll have to wait for 'JP IV' for a more thoroughly rendered avian pelage.)"
    • Bakker, R. 2004. “Dinosaurs Acting Like Birds, and Vice Versa – An Homage to the Reverend Edward Hitchcock, First Director of the Massachusetts Geological Survey” in Feathered Dragons. Currie, P.; Koppelhus, E.; Shugar, M.; Wright J. eds. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 1-11.
  • I start with a lot of research. Just as a live action actor must get to know his part so should the animator. I speak to the director(s) about who they see the character to be, how he feels, what they see his overall arc being and so on. Then I like know all of the history of how that character came to be. That’s where you always find the back story of the character that may not be obvious in the animatic or script. If it is an animal character such as Pumbaa then much time should be taken to research what the real animal looks and moves like. For The Lion King the animators spent months going to zoos and studying video reference of animals to really dig in deep. Then it is a bit of time and R&D to figure out how much to caricature the movement and anatomy of the creature. What is the animation style of the film? What are the personality traits that I share with the character and what are the ones I don’t?
    • Tony Bancroft [6]
  • We really wanted to make and create female characters who would kick butt and who were not just damsels in distress and that type of thing. Certainly we love strong women in our lives and that’s something that’s important for us, especially for something that kids will be watching, but just in general, that’s the type of movie I want to watch. I don’t want to see something where women are diminished and for us to get a chance to do that in animation was great.
    • Bob Barlen [7]
  • CG takes a little longer. It takes more time up front, but then when you get to the final part, it’s quicker.
  • They’ve become followers, rather than leaders, to me, it’s a travesty that 2D has been dropped by most of the industry. It’s like oil painting and water-color. One should not replace the other. I would love to see 2D rise again. With 2D, it became accepted that there were certain perceptions of what the films were,” Bazley said. Meaning that many of these films were musicals for children, but with CGI, “it’s a little bit more open.
  • If you make virtual child pornography under strict government control with some kind of label explaining that no child was abused, you can give paedophiles a way of regulating their sexual urges.
  • Erik Van Beek [9]
  • Crest Animation in India is our parent company so what's unique about this and what I enjoyed -- especially coming from TV where they send things overseas and it's by the book -- is that it was like working with an extension of the same studio. A lot of thought went into this and if something didn't work, they would flesh it out and make sure it was the best it could be. We'd go over there and spend time with them and go over the nuances of the animation.
They would do the physical animation but would send blocking scenes here and we had a small crew here that would go over the blocking and do tweaks and offer suggestions. It was very collaborative.
  • Again, they had to do with the stylistic designs and, anatomically, some of the things didn't quite work with the rigging. So we wanted to get more of a natural, animalistic-type movement in the wolves, which was believable, making sure the gravity worked and that the lands worked. In designing them, everything was a perfect model of a wolf. We caricatured the wolves. And some of the expressions were hard and getting this hair to work and not be just clunky geometry was a challenge. I think the overlapping, the subtlety and nuances of that nature were important so that the facial performances could work without being distracted by this hair.
  • Most difficult part was the clothes, the long hair, and the crowd. Very expensive but essential in a movie with a pretty singer/young lady and many scenes in Paris. But we found ways to achieve that with the help of an amazing hardworking team and good ideas. What I’m the most proud of is that we have made a movie that conveys a message of friendship and love that make people happier for a moment.
  • Bibo Bergeron [11]
  • Oh yeah. Even in hand drawn animation, humans are widely considered to be the most difficult to execute, because everybody has a feeling for how they move. If your goal is just to be funny then you can do something simple like The Simpsons and South Park. But if you're trying to be dramatic and put your characters in jeopardy and have them feel pain and regret and complexity, then you have to be very careful as to how you put them on screen.

    The thing is, our goal wasn't to reproduce reality. We didn't want it to look real, we wanted it to feel real. We wanted to have very stylized characters that were designy and fun to look at, but we wanted to move them through space convincingly, so Bob feels heavy when he moves, and there's a feeling of real physics when Helen stretches, even though it's physically impossible to do. If you look at a lot of animated movies, they don't pay attention to how things move through space. If you move something 10 pounds through space and then stop suddenly, there's a little overshoot. When you transfer weight from one leg to another, there's a certain way that it happens. Again, we're doing unrealistic stuff all the way through the film, but we're trying to pay attention to real physics when we do the unreal stuff so you believe it. We had a number of people come up to us and say "Five minutes into the movie I forgot I was watching an animated film." I don't think the film looks realistic, I don't think it looks remotely realistic. But it feels realistic.

  • I actually think it’s a lot more valid than other people do. I think the industry tends to like to think in the narrow sort of mindset of a businessman, and businessman absolutes, and movies really exist in a much grayer region of dreams and stuff like that, and instinct is prized in movies, it’s not prized with the businessmen in movies, but movies themselves often reward instinct rather than pie charts. And what has not been done is that there’s been no American animation done on Disney-level quality that has really gone into different genres. For instance, there’s never been a horror movie in animation executed at Disney-level quality and hand-drawn, I’m not talking about CG I’m talking about hand-drawn, but it doesn’t take a lot to imagine how cool that would be. If you think of the scariest parts of Snow White or Pinocchio or Fantasia with Night on Bald Mountain, you could do something really scary in animation and I think if you did it right, if you did it with all the art that Spielberg did Jaws, I think that it would be an amazing experience because there’s something intuitive about when people are drawing directly with their hands.
  • The problem is that every time people have deviated from the Disney playbook in hand-drawn animation, they’ve done so with staff that are nowhere near Disney-level talent or Disney-level budgets. So you have things like Heavy Metal, which not all of them are great, but a couple of them are really interesting, but they didn’t have the money or the artists to pull them off at the level that maybe they should’ve been pulled off. Where as in live-action film there are all kinds of new films being done in different genres where people can really execute an idea at a top level. It’s just that animation rewards grooming a team and keeping a team in place. That’s why when studios try to emulate Disney on the quick-and-cheap they always fail, because Disney has refined their animation team over years, they have a history of it, people go to Disney and know that there’s going to be a job after the movie, there’s going to be another movie. And when you assemble animation teams the way you do a live-action film, you’re often struggling a bit to get a cohesive team together, so if you have a team that works well together, you’re hoping for another film so that you can refine the team.
  • Way way back… we’re talking early 80s. I was a graphic designer and an animator… traditional animator, since there was no CG animation. I moved to London, England and got a job with Ian Pearson, who was later one of the creators of the show. And we were doing animation for TV titles and stuff like that… basically tumbling logos. And the company we worked for had just bought a brand new, state-of-the-art system. These days you’d be better off using your cellphone to animate, but back then it was definitely state-of-the-art… very expensive. Back then if you wanted to do computer animation you had to do lines and lines and lines of code. But this system was way more like the systems we have today where you could digitize things, and you turn a knob and it moves. So animation was way easier, and very quickly Ian started bugging a friend of ours, Steve Baron, who worked at a company called Limelight, who did a lot of the classic pop promos from the 80s. He started bugging him to do a pop promo in CGI. Steve kept saying “sure sure sure, when I have the right promo I’ll do it.” He came in one day and said he had the right promo, and it was Dire Straits “Money For Nothing”. We spent three and a half, four weeks making that pop promo which went on to great success and was a big hit, and pretty much put CGI on the map.
It was a huge thing at the time, and then one day Ian got the insane idea of doing an entire TV show in CGI. That was the little pellet of snow that eventually kept rolling until it became ReBoot. And it took about nine years until that developed into the series. So I went from graphic designer to being a “CGI Guy” in a very short order. Sometime in 1993 Ian was working in the United States with our then producer Chris Broth, and sold the concept of the show to ABC.
  • Yes, the fact that the show was computer generated led to the fact that it took place inside a computer. If we had made the show the day after we got the idea, it would’ve looked like Dire Straits. It would’ve been boxy, and primitive and flat-shaded with no shiny, round blobby objects. No shadows, nothing. When were were first developing the idea, people would ask us why it looked so weird. We had to come up with a reason for that, so very quickly we said it was because it took place inside a computer, and people totally accepted it!
  • Gavin Blair, ReBoot co-creator [14]
  • It was at the TV production house (company), Filmation. I was a Layout artist, where we would create the set and provide poses of the characters for the animators. That studio had about 150 artists and technicians. The animation was limited animation, an inexpensive version to accommodate the budgets that the TV networks would provide the production companies. The layout department followed the storyboards. Our pencil backgrounds would go to the background department to be painted, the character poses would go to the animation department. Animator’s would then use the poses to create the illusion of movement, but not like the classical animation at Disney. Limited meant, using a limited number of drawings to achieve the needs of the individual scene or “shot”. Often the animator would not move the head or the body – just move the arms, blink the eyes and form the words with seven basic mouth shapes, sort of a poor-man’s animation approach.
Once a scene/shot was approved it would be cleaned-up by a “cleanup artist” plus they may add a couple of drawings in between the animator’s drawings to smooth out the moving parts. The approved cleanup scene would be checked and go to the Xerox Department, where the drawings would be transferred to celluloid sheets which would in-turn, be painted, using pre-selected colors, in the cel painting department. Once complete, quality control “checkers” would review the scene/shot with the final colored background against the animator’s worksheet, called an “Exposure Sheet” or X-Sheet, to insure that everything was exposed correctly for the camera department. Once approve, the scene/shot would be exposed to film, one frame at a time, on an animation rostrum camera.
The film would be developed and edited into continuity, synced to the dialogue sound tracks. Post Production would then add music and sound effects. The final product would be converted to video and delivered to the TV broadcasters.
  • We were animation trainees at Disney, and we were learning to animate. But, NOT about direction, screenwriting, recording the voices, storyboarding, editing, scene planning, budgeting, etc. If were going to be promoted to leadership positions, it seemed to us that we should know all of those tasks, as well as animating. So making a short film seemed to be the best way to learn all of these other creative elements of making an animated film.
  • At one point we were going to just stay and dedicate ourselves to changing the company from within. So, I approached Ron (Miller) the then CEO of Walt Disney Productions, and asked if he would like to see the film we were making in my garage (Banjo the Woodpile Cat). He said he wasn’t interested in what we were doing in my garage. That’s when we decided that it wasn’t going to work at Disney. We were going to have to leave to try and turn animation around and bring back the quality that we missed from those old films.
  • Regarding animators going un-credited; if you are referring to Disney, in those days animators that had more than one minute of animation in the film would receive credit, Mr. Disney limited credits to key artistic tasks in those feature films from the beginning of his studio (in the 1920s) until the early 1980s. That would be writers, directors, storyboard artist, art directors, layout & background artists, and animators only. Assistant animators, cleanup artists, breakdown and inbetween artists, color modelers, assistant directors, ink and paint artists, and technicians like cameramen, Xerographers, scene planers were not offered credits.
  • On Land Before Time, George (Lucas) and Steven (Spielberg) were more concerned about causing nightmares for children than getting a G rating.
On All Dogs, the folks at Goldcrest Film and Television were concerned that the Hell Hound sequence would cause nightmares and would in fact cause a word of mouth that would steer family audiences away. We would have just preferred getting a PG rating
OnRock-A-Doodle, Goldcrest's marketing rep had some issues about the owl making a skunk pie with a baby skunk voiced by a 6 year-old child actor. The skunk got away when the The Duke's nephew, voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly crash-lands in the outdoor kitchen. The rep came at us with some sort of experience about child abuse and that most child abuse occurs in the kitchen with scalding, burning etc. He made demands for us to cut material from that sequence, again not for the rating but for some personal concerns. ...
One of our films that we wanted a PG rating was (for) The Secret of NIMH. Funny, even with all the support of the press and the critics, they all commented that there are dark sections of the film that could be frightening to small children. Not really sure you will get the attention of the ratings board or its members, I think they just feel that animation is for children so it's just an automatic gesture, rate it G! I often wonder if the ratings board actually looks at the animated films.
  • One of the most important lessons I learned was the fact that these great animators understood the use of "texture" within their animated assignments. Ollie and Frank, as well as all of the nine old men understood texture, or varying the rhythm, the timing, the shapes, fast against slow, busy against calm, much like the texture in music. It wasn't until my second year at Walt Disney that this was pointed out to me, by Don. He pointed to Ollie and Frank's work, and sure enough, as their scenes came back from camera, and we watched them on the moviola, we could see their attention to including texture to enhance their scenes by creating changes in rhythm and timing, making the scenes more interesting and even more entertaining.
In addition to their drawing skills and attention to allowing the audience to see the character "thinking", the addition of texture, to even a short "continuity" scene or "action" scene, helps eliminate "mushy" and boring animation. When I brought this up to Frank & Ollie, they both just smiled, and commented that this is just one more step in learning to do classical animation.
  • Ollie was always ready to compliment other artists. He was very deliberate with his approach to animation, thinking out his scenes very methodically. Even when drawing, he would make several strokes with his blue pencil, just above the blank paper, before allowing the pencil to lower and just "kiss" the paper, making a light mark to begin drawing each individual pose of the character(s). His ruff animation was drawn very light, on-model with all the finesse of a master animator/artist. All the major detail would be added as he confirmed that his action was working properly and that the purpose of the scene was clear.
He also always encouraged us to "think through your scene, see it in your mind before you put pencil to paper". If you complimented him on one of his scenes, he was always gracious and would usually just come back with a simple thank you, maybe give you a quick lesson on how he approached the scene.
Near the end of his animating days, Ollie suffered from a form of palsy, where his hands would shake, usually around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. He never complained. But regretted that it shortened his work day. He'd just lay down the pencil and perhaps read, or leave a little early. He was very aware of this problem and probably made a bigger effort to concentrate and get as much work done before the shaking would affect his drawing.
  • I don't know about the whole gaming system, I just know that our contribution was those three games. We were on the third game &#Array; Dragon's Lair II &#Array; and hadn't completed it when the gaming business went "Blah." It went right down and the movie business went up. It was a weird kind of time, and once again we thought, "Well, we failed again. We're going to go out of business." But then something always rescues us. Jerry Goldsmith took The Secret of NIMH and showed it to Steven Spielberg. He took a look and said, "Wow, I thought this kind of animation was dead. I've been told forever that you can't do this anymore; it's too expensive." It wasn't the truth. You could do it, and we'd learned that you could¿ It was just the studio mentality that they simply didn't want to spend the money. Steven got very excited and he said, "Would you like to make a picture together?" We, of course, jumped at the opportunity.
  • The Secret of NIMH was the film that was made in our innocence. That's where we dug down deep. And we didn't know any better, so we rushed in. We did the best you could. On Secret of NIMH, we had two layout people, three background people, and ten animators. That's how we made the movie. All the painting on the cels was farmed out to women all over the city of Los Angeles. They took it into their kitchens and painted it. When I think about how fat the studios have become, I laugh. You have 24 people in the layout department &#Array; we're fat with personnel. All the rules and attitudes change in that kind of environment.
  • When business executives are making the artistic decisions and don't understand animation, things can go awry. Now they call in all of the authority figures they can find and hire them &#Array; the cost has gone up. The picture may or may not get better, but definitely, it gets more cumbersome¿ It's like trying to turn around an army of tanks, instead of being able to move lightly on your feet or being able to listen to what's going on inside of you &#Array; because that's what's telling you what to do. It gets bogged down.
  • It's two worlds In the animation world, people who understand pencils

and paper usually aren't computer people, and the computer people usually aren't the artistic people, so they always stand on opposite sides of the line. We wanted to cross that line and bring them in to each other's worlds. You can put an animator on a computer and maybe in 6 months you can teach him how to animate on that computer. He can then bring his knowledge of animation into that medium, and probably make it work better than if you wen the other way around. That's basically where we were trying to get everybody to understand how both worlds work.

The marketing department is really an important part of getting an animated film to work. If the people running it are used to selling live action films and the hard rock music and the sex and all those things, they look at animated film and go, "Uhhh This is for moms and children." Anything outside that, they just don't know what to do with it.
  • The studios are not hiring right now, and they're beginning to have second thoughts about what they're producing. Even Dreamworks. Prince of Egypt, which is not quite in the black yet, and then we've got El Dorado, which was a little disappointing. You just can't keep pouring money down an endless hole and never recoup any of it. It's got to be a business. Anastasia was disappointing. This is very important, that this movie Titan works.
  • The only one that seems to be able to hold the business is Disney. They do it is because they have a fabulous philosophy about marketing but even they wavered. If you go back to I think it was Hunchback, then there was Hercules those picture were sagging. They were in a formula groove. The audience knew that. The box office fell off, but it came back up with Tarzan. Disney knows that they're in a formulaic rut, and they're trying very hard, I think, to find something that's different. They've got so much money, they can throw it at anything.
  • What the stockholders will want is for you to hold the line. Don't rock the boat, just keep making more of the same if The Lion King worked, make another Lion King. That's where a stockholder will tell you to go. This is the war between the merchant and the artist. What the artist will tell you is, "We made The Lion King, so don't make it again. Let's find something else that also touches somebody's emotions and is equally thrilling, but let's not make that again. Let's not formulize the pictures.
  • 'It's like building a cathedral, in which only a few seconds of animation are completed each week.
    • Jim Bresnahan [17]
  • Well, yeah, but it wasn’t quite that removed from a normal live-action film. I had two actors — one of whom was six-foot-four and the other one was four-foot-two — and they stood in for Yogi and Boo-Boo from the blocking to the rehearsal and the filming … after a while, you’d forget that some of the characters are going to be replaced by CG bears later on.
  • No, this was a project that was at the Weinstein Company in development for several years, and they’ve gone down paths and tested out things that they wanted to do and didn’t want to do. When we came on, they wanted to take the story in a new direction. And so, we did a page one rewrite of what they had at the time and went from there which is becoming more and more common in animation these days. You’re hearing about the kind of journey that these things go through.
  • I think it was interesting for her in animation. That’s one of the nice things about animation. It’s not your face up there. It’s your performance up there. I think she enjoyed the chance to do something that she wouldn’t normally do as an actress. That was fun. She had a lot of fun with it for sure. I really enjoyed working with her.
    • Callan Brunker [19]
  • The technical end of it, I wasn’t too worried about, because I know the guys at Imageworks can do almost anything. They’re geniuses over there. We did say to them, ‘If we can’t do the water well, then we can’t do this movie.’ We were going to have so many waves and so much water. It just has to look great. Of course, they came up to the challenge. They did way better than I could have even dreamed.
You know what it was? It was probably trying to convince people along the way that this could be something really fun and special, because it’s different. When you do something different like this documentary, a lot of people may just not understand it, or they just don’t think that people will enjoy it or whatever.
I know convincing people that kids would get it was a hard one, too. They kept saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t going to get a documentary. Kids don’t watch documentaries.’ But kids watch reality TV. They watch a lot of that. My kids do. This is the same as that.
You can call it whatever you want to call it: ‘documentary’ or ‘reality TV.’ It’s a slice of life, what’s happening right then in the moment. Kids have just loved it, and they don’t question it at all. They don’t even call it a ‘documentary.’ It’s just entertaining to them.
So, I think that was our hardest thing along the way. Until scenes were animated or sequences were really done did others outside of Ash, Chis and myself really understand it – did they finally go, ‘Oh, okay, I kind of get what you’re doing!’ – or until they showed it to an audience were their fears put to rest. So, that was the biggest challenge. That was ongoing. Not until you could show a finished product could you prove it.
  • In Hollywood, they think drawn animation doesn't work anymore, computers are the way. They forget that the reason computers are the way is that Pixar makes good movies. So everybody tries to copy Pixar. They're relying too much on the technology and not enough on the artists.
  • It's a universal tendency in films to be more about sex and violence than the real world is, but I would pose the opposite question: Why are so many characters that you see on TV so desexualized? A lot of them seem to be completely asexual — especially animated characters — and it implies that those characters are normal. The characters in Aeon Flux are normal people who have normal sex lives and appetites.
  • Princes are tough. They are always tough. The toughest character to animate. That’s why in Snow White, you only see the prince at the very beginning of the movie and at the end of the movie because it is tough. They’ve always kept the princes to a minimum. Same with Cinderella. Cinderella has a little better prince. But it’s still they’re hard to draw. They hard to animate. The acting is tough. A realistic girl is hard but guys are harder to do. They are easier and they are a little more fun than men. They are more fun to draw. Girls are more fun to draw. Guys are tough to draw. So it’s got to be a really good animator. Only the best animators really can do the prince. But it’s not the most fun character to animate.
  • Every time I get an individual shot, I try to put an idea in the shot. Whether it be a directorial camera idea, staging idea or animated idea, I try to push everyone in each department to find that idea that will make us if not original, at least interesting. When I see a lot of movies, animated or real-life ones, I’m always bewildered by the lack of ideas just on simple dialogue, like: shot-countershot-shot-countershot, but I try to find an idea out of these shots like, maybe the character is saying something but is more interested in that coffee cup she’s holding.
And the weight I’m putting on the animation team is to go beyond the cliché, and I’m going to cite one just because it annoys me: when you see a character who’s embarrassed rubbing his neck or rubbing his arm. You don’t want to go there; you want to go for that thing that the other guy won’t be thinking about, expressing that same idea of impatience or nervousness or agitation. You want to aim for that little human physical reaction that you’ve not seen before, but that you’ve unconsciously done that tells you that this character that you’re looking at is actually living with real emotions.
    • Pierre Coffin [22]
  • Those were accomplished primarily by computer graphics, and there was a problem there, which is each computer graphic creation cost a certain amount of money. So that when you start up with the creation of the 50-foot woman, then you can ride with that all the way through the rest of the picture. But if you're going to show individual size changes, it costs a great deal of money for something that's only on the screen only 10 or 20 seconds, so we did cheat a bit on those intermediate sizes in order to get to the full size right away.
  • Sure, but this was Roger’s first time doing CG, so that was kind of a good balance between us because my whole career had been in computer animation. It was a pretty great experience and I think Roger would agree with this as well’the art of making these films is kind of like the art of stained-glass window making’it’s really meticulous and the craft is passed down from person to person. It’s really difficult to direct one of these if you haven’t seen the whole process, been part of the process or been an animator or story person because it’s very difficult to direct others to do things you yourself haven’t done. That’s one thing that I thought was really great. As a director, you’re kind of the conductor of the orchestra, you have to hold the big picture and go to every department on a regular basis and make sure that they have the vision in their head and it helps if you’ve been there before. I found that a lot of people I worked with on this job are people I’ve been working with in the industry for years and years, so it was even a bit of a weird, super close-knit family.
  • It’s tough. All of us tried not to look at reviews but secretly we were all looking at them. A lot of the negative reviews were talking about the glut of animation these days and I think it’s unfortunate that some reviewers got sick of seeing so many animated releases this year. Obviously, the kids don’t get sick of it. It there’s more than two out there, that’s great for families. So some of those reviews we had to turn a blind eye to just because a lot of them were statements about the animation industry in general and we kind of got lumped in with that. The live-action industry never gets judged like that. A lot of the families we’ve talked to are relieved that there are more things to take their kids to on the weekends. And I think that the people who went to see it really enjoyed it and that does all of our hearts well. That’s what we’ve been working for three and a half years for.
  • I’ve never been on the technical side of creating software and stuff, and I have to say those guys are just as artistic as the best designer you could ever find. Talking to them is just like talking to an artist and there are so many creative minds. I’ve been able to benefit from challenging some of the software engineers to create new tools, but I haven’t been part of the creating process. It just seems like a miracle to me that they keep making these tools. Specifically, on Open Season I wanted a tool where the characters could have built-in squash-and-stretch where you can manipulate the silhouettes. You basically have the ability to sculpt the characters into any shape you want. I gave a two-hour lecture and I showed all these old Disney films and stylized Warner Bros. cartoons and showed how the characters could squash and stretch out of proportion. I went frame by frame and they just kind of looked at me, and I thought, ‘I’m such an idiot. They don’t understand me.’ But the next day the phone was ringing off the hook. They came out of the woodwork asking all about this and within about four months this amazing, revolutionary too was developed. When I peek behind the curtain, that’s the one part that I don’t know how it happens. But I’m so glad it does because it takes both sides’the creative, visual storytelling and this wonderful, creative team of technical guys who are still pushing the envelope and creating new stuff.
  • Since you can pretty much do anything, you have to be careful not to get too excessive, and make sure that you maintain a sense of dynamics in your film, in terms of your colour palette and your camera and your story. In everything, you need ups and downs, and if you stay in any one place too long, it gets static — and even action scenes, if they’re too active, too long, it becomes static, and it starts to become monotonous.
So things like CG, where you can do anything with the camera — you can just fly the camera around things — directors that haven’t really done it before, they kind of fall in love with the idea that they can do that, and typically I’ll notice that a lot of times they keep the camera flying around constantly, and what happens is you lose that dynamic of being able to keep the camera still for the quieter moments, and then when the action kicks in, you’ve got some place to go and the camera can become very active and you can get really creative with what you do with it, but you have to hold back so that you have somewhere to go. And also, the same can be said with the electric colour palette. You want to keep your colours kind of toned down and muted for scenes that are more stoic and sombre, and then when things become more active or excited, then you get more saturated colours, and again, dramatically, you’ve got somewhere to go.
  • I think it’s starting to get better now, but for a while, when CG was first sort of popular — after Toy Story came out, it kind of opened the door for these films to be made and studios were jumping on the bandwagon — I saw a lot of animation schools pop up across the country, and I would get demo reels from kids that were coming out of those schools looking for work, but the problem was that those schools were not teaching the principles of animation, they were teaching software. They thought, “That’s how you become an animator, you learn the software.” It’s like, nope! All that is is just a paintbrush, you’re going to have to learn how to paint. I think eventually they came to learn that, so that they’ve gotten a lot better. But I think that what’s needed is an overall sense of filmmaking, so that even if you’re going to specialize in any one particular area, which is what you’ll typically wind up doing, you know kind of the idea behind how all the pieces fit, which is really important.
  • John A. Davis [25]
  • There’s been a tremendous leap on this movie, because for about five years DreamWorks was developing with Intel a complete overhaul on all the tools we use, and we were the first film to showcase them. So they came to us kind of brand new and we were anticipating a lot of bugs, but it actually turned out that we weren’t slowed down by them at all, we went a lot faster. And it’s simply because, although it’s very, very powerful—the whole suite is called Apollo, but the animation tool is called Primo and the lighting tool is called Torch, and in both cases they allow the artists to kind of work with their hands again. The animators are now working with Cintiq tablets, which are computer screens that you can actually use a stylus to draw on, and they’re manipulating the characters live so they can change expressions, they can pose them, and create their animation without any wait time. That allowed us to have really complex characters with many more controls, both visible and under the skin, performing in real time, and we could have multiple characters onscreen at once which was never possible before.
So the whole laborious process of animating, which used to be all based on spreadsheets and graphs and numeric entries and pull-down menus, it’s all been replaced with a hand holding a stylus and manipulating the character like a stop-motion animator would move around the armature of a puppet. So it allowed for lots of iterations, really nuanced performances, and in the cases of scope and scale we could have a scene like the battle on the beach of Valka’s dragon sanctuary where we have thousands of soldiers and hundreds of dragons and explosions and all that sort of thing going off at once.  :That just would not have been possible even a year before we had the new software.
  • Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.
    • Walt Disney as quoted in OpenGL Shading Language (2006) by Randi J. Rost, p. 411
  • Ideally, it's set in stone. But the truth is- and every film is different - basically the way we work is, we divide the film into sequences, roughly 30 of them. And the one we feel are tent-poles holding the whole thing up, thoe go in firt, and we start animating those. Hopefully, everything else starts to come along. It's weird - on almost every film I've worked on, the first sequence we storyboard ends up being the first sequence that goes into animation, and ends up being almost shot-for-shot the same.
  • And I realize that there were other independently-funded projects being done at the same time, but yes, we were the first… the first kind of a new model and a new way of making an animated film. It was made with no studio money, overseas, then picked up by a major distributor. A few other animated films have followed this path, but not to the level of success that Hoodwinked was able to achieve. I know Veggie Tales had a movie come out earlier that year, but that was with a struck deal and brand recognition. Hoodwinked was this freak of nature that was made completely outside of the studio system and, thankfully, worked. I rarely toot my own horn, but these are facts that never get mentioned and I am really proud of what our little film did. Hoodwinked was made for under $8 Million, and has grossed over $150 Million worldwide. That easily makes it the most profitable animated film of its time.
  • Me and my effects supervisor John Nelson worked with the Stan Winston studios to build practical suits and we were working with the team from ILM who, a lot of them, had worked on Transformers. We got to benefit from a lot of the technology they broke through for that production which really makes Iron Man photo-real. As you might know, I’m not a fan of CGI per-se so I was very demanding that we make the effects as photo-real as possible.
Well that’s what Jurassic Park did and that’s why I think it holds up so well today. There are relatively few shots in Jurassic Park; a lot of that stuff is robotics, animatronics. You have to mix practical with computer generated and so there was stuff we did that was seen as wasteful sometimes when we were budgeting.
When Iron Man’s flying we’d send real planes up to do the choreography so that we’d get the camerawork to really look like a cameraman was following from another plane. It gives it that Top Gunlook. One of the first things I did was I sat down all the people working on the visual effects and we screened scenes from Top Gun and scenes from Stealth and I said, “Why does Top Gun look so much more real?” Stealth had all of this money, technology and state-of-the-art effects and it looks like you’re watching a videogame.
We figured out that a lot of it had to do with how restrained the camera was. Don’t give the camera too much freedom or choreography. Get the shading right, the lighting right and there are things you can do to make the CGI look more real. People end up going crazy and give themselves a little too much freedom in how they use CGI and if you overuse it, it draws attention to itself.
  • Well, I have actually been doing CGI for a number of years for Aardman; we have a small CGI department at Aardman, although one not large enough to make a feature film. In any case, they’re both three-dimensional environments, and they both involve three-dimensional modeling, characters moving in 3D space, surface and lighting, at least conceptually in the same way. So the transition was just a matter of applying my approach to each of the different departments as I would myself with the computer. I went down to the rigging department and got them to rig the characters in the computer as if they were rigging a puppet. I went to the painters and surfacers and told them I wanted the characters to feel like you could reach out and touch them. I had everyone put imperfections into everything, paint everything to look as if it was a real substance. Everywhere I went,̽I tried to translate the look of Aardman or the approach I would have taken were I working on a puppet film into the new CGI environment.
  • Everything has been touched by human hands. Weirdly enough, the very first thing we did was build a set out of rubbish over in Bristol , because the film is about a rat city built out of junk in the sewers of London . We got a room together and filled it with old furniture, suitcases, piles of bottles and bicycle parts, just a big pile of junk basically. We also built some rat houses, shops and rows of buildings, and then we turned our cameras on and lit it up. We inserted some rat-sized props as well. And that’s how we approached the look. We basically built an idea of what the real world would look like if it was made out of real junk! I told the modeling staff, "Spend half a day making your models asymmetrical. Knock the edges out a bit." We wanted it to be much less than mathematically perfect. I did the same thing with the painters and everyone else. A lot of the painters went out with digital cameras to photograph flaking paint on old doors, to study the real world of the city and how it exhibits wear and tear, how things get damaged. Because there is a very specific way things get damaged: It’s not a general process. Everything wears in certain ways through multiple use, depending on how it sits in the sun or what kind of weather conditions it has to exist in. So we used extensive reference to the outside world and asked our artists and animators to go in and spend some extra time touching it with virtual hands. I actually feel that once you’re into the film, you forget that it was made using CGI. I don’t think you’re conscious of it being a CGI film anymore. And it’s really because, in a strange way, the whole thing has been handmade. And people will be confused by that: "What do you mean handmade? What, do you wear glasses or something?" No, it’s just that each artist has intervened using the computer to make it all imperfect or wonky. The process definitely had a wonkiness level to it. Everything has been touched or considered by the human mind, which at some point has intervened in the process, you know? Same with the animation process: We didn’t have any secondary animation, such as cloth or hair, done by the computer; it was all done by hand. Which means that the animator had to deal with the cloth or the hair, and because they’re human and not robots, there is a visible imperfection to it, especially since they had to build it frame by frame. So even in that sense the animation has a handmade look to it. There was a lot of intervention.
  • But we did in fact set out to make Flushed Away more colorful and bright than previous Aaardman projects, because it’s set in the big city, you know? It’s set in contemporary London , which is a bustling metropolis, so we wanted the film to have a more vibrant sensibility. Wallace and Gromit is set in a Northern English town and Chicken Runis set in the postwar British countryside, but this film has a much more modern setting. And because we were setting the film in the sewer, we didn’t want to be in the dark the whole time. So we chose to have daylight pouring in from above through what we imagine to be holes, grates and the like, which helps with the main story point, which is that it is in fact a fantastic place. That aids the character development of Roddy, who goes down there and ends up finding the place to be wonderful. But having said that, it still fits in with the Aardman aesthetic: wear-and-tear, strong shadows, tactility, a naturalistic color palette. And I’m really pleased, because I think that our film is unlike any other film in a rather crowded year for animated movies. We don’t really look like anything else, which is great for us. We really wanted to stick with the look, as well as incorporate the possibilities that advances in CGI filmmaking have provided us.
  • For example, we used a little bit of squash-and-stretch on our rubbery frog characters. Normally, we don’t use squash-and-stretch on our puppets, but with the frogs it feels right. As far as the water effects go, we tried to get pretty realistic. With the rain in The Wrong Trousers, we actually used little bits of gelatin or glass beads, whereas now we’re building realistic splashes and so forth. To be honest, we’ve actually been pretty strict, but we’ve also enjoyed working within the limitations of the style. But the use of CGI has helped as far as the interaction between characters and effects, which is much better looking than it is with stop-motion. The primary thing the computers have brought us is an increase in style and scope. We’ve been able to build these huge sets and populate them with thousands of characters, which we would really have struggled with if we were working strictly with puppets.
  • Oh, it’s great. Yeah, just show up and I don’t have to–to worry really about putting myself together and–and, you know, timing the medication necessarily or any of that stuff.
  • I like how flexible it is timewise, too. Because one of the things about making a movie you’re acting on camera is the tremendous amount of time that you waste. So it’s not so much that it’s–that it’s just more difficult to be on camera, it’s–I–I just–I don’t have that kind of time. Not in the sense that, you know, some kind of fatal thing that’s happening, but–but just, I don’t want to waste that time. If I feel good I want to be doing things.
  • Michael J. Fox [31]
  • We had a long debate in the studio: what was the legacy of Disney? Was it 2-D, pencil-drawn animation, or was it telling great stories with great characters? And Joe Grant, who passed away just this past year, that we dedicated the movie to...I think he was, at 94 years old, really the youngest voice in the room, saying to all of us, "Look, Walt Disney stood for cutting-edge technology. He stood for whatever tool you could assemble that would do the best job of telling your story. Don't get hung up on the technology and say, 'No, it's the pencil.'" He said, "Walt never would have locked in and said, 'You gotta stick with the pencil forever, no matter what happens with technology.'" So I think it was undeniable. I think of the top ten grossing [animated movies], Lion King is the only one in there that's a 2-D movie. It's undeniable that there's a great public appetite, and it's because you just have such a rich palette. Like Buck Cluck's feathers--he has 250,000 feathers on his head and his arms that can all move to wind and gravity. Those are things that you could only dream of in a 2-D realm.
    • Randy Fullmer [32]
  • Crash needed to pop against the background so you could see him easily. Since he lived in a natural world of greens and grays orange was the hottest and most complementary colour. Real animals want to blend. Cartoons want to pop.
  • Nooo! Leave that to George Lucas, he' s really mastered the CGI acting. That scares me! I hate it! Everybody is so pleased and excited by it. Animation is animation. Animation is great. But it's when you're now taking what should be films full of people, living thinking, breathing, flawed creatures and you're controlling every moment of that, it's just death to me. It's death to cinema, I can't watch those Star Wars films, they're dead things.
  • We do both CG films and traditional animated film, in which we draw most all of the animation, with some CG props and effects, even some CG characters. There are easily over 250,000 drawing, including the storyboards, layouts, character, character cleanup and special effects drawings. But, even our drawings are scanned into the computer and those scenes are edited into continuity in the computer, we plan the camera moves in the computer, quality check the animation, paint the scenes, adjust color and make repairs in the computer. We don’t go to film until a scene is approved in final color. In fact, it will soon be possible to do the complete distribution as a digital product, on digital tape, encoded HD DVDs, or via fiber optics. It’s a matter of the theaters getting completely switched over to this technology. In the meantime, we create a negative from the digital master and go through the same final process we used to by making an answer print on film, then go to inter-positive and duplicate negative for the creation of release prints for the theaters. We are really looking forward to the digital technology to permeate the market.

ː So, as we learned in the garage, we earned promotions at Disney. We also really started to notice the films we were working on didn’t seem to be as beautiful as films that Disney made 30 years before – films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, Cinderella, Peter Pan or Lady and the Tramp. And when Don was promoted to Producer/Director and I was promoted to Directing Animator, we found out that convincing the management (during the ‘70s) that we wanted to add more special effects, cast shadows on the character, water, rain, and other environmental phenomena, it was discouraged. They wanted us to cut costs, not increase costs. It seemed as though the more we tried to return to the beauty of the older films, the more difficult our jobs became. We finally decided that maybe we could turn them around if we started our own company and challenged Disney on the big screen, that maybe then they would see what we were talking about.

  • Strange, but at the time of our introduction to this video game concept, our animation union had taken all of our artists out on a Union Strike which lasted for 73 days. During that time Rick Dyer, a computer scientist and entrepreneur had seen The Secret of NIMH and was convinced that he needed to partner with us on this new video game technology. He showed us what the new laser disc machine could do and how he thought our animation could be programmed to allow the player to control the action of the game. When he was done, we didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. However, it was a game, and not a film, which allowed us to bring our artists back to work, as video games were not included in the union contract.
  • MGM was not involved until it merged with UA. UA had originally committed to distributing The Secret of NIMH under the leadership of Norbert Aurebach, who was extremely enthusiastic about NIMH. Unfortunately, a few months later UA’s film, Heaven’s Gate went way over budget, and UA was sold to MGM by its owner, TransAmerica. The then chairman of MGM, David Begelman was not interested in animation. He felt that only Disney could distribute and sell animation, and refused to put up any of the contracted financing for the distribution of the film, further, they did what is called a roll-out campaign, opening on the west coast and rolling across the US. Aurora had put up $4.2M for the prints and advertising. When they did an audit of MGM/UA a year later, there was still over $600,000 in NIMH Print & Advertising account. - See more at: http://www.fantasiafest.com/blog/guests/an-exclusive-interview-with-animation-legends-don-bluth-and-gary-goldman#sthash.vBeLjNnt.dpuf
  • With animation because you can draw anything and do anything and have the characters do whatever you want the tendency is to be very loose with the boundaries and the rules. But what's great about all these different [cartoon] shows that are on now is they all have their own rules and they stick to them. And in my opinion the ones that don't make it, the ones that fall by the wayside, are the ones that aren't aware of that idea, that you have to have your own rules and boundaries. If anything is possible then I think the audience doesn't care.
  • You spend a lifetime on movie sets, doing television and what-not, and you think you know something. Here you’re going back and learning it all over again. Motion-capture is equalizing. Everyone's wearing the same thing—a body suit with little balls all over—regardless of whether you're the star or an extra. And you've got to be comfortable with playing pretend. It’s like being a child again, playing Robin Hood in your backyard. It’s all pretending.

"There we are, with our suits full of these little pimples, and these planks of wood, going ‘RIGHT! THEY’RE COMING! KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN! QUICK SHOTS!'"

  • My name is sweetie, I'm 10 years old. I live in the Philippines. Every day I have to sit in front of the webcam and talk to men. Just like ten's of thousands of other kids. The men ask me to take off my cloths. They undress. They play with themselves, they want me to p;ay with myself. As soon as I go online, they come to me. Ten, hundred, every hour. So many. But what they don't know: I'm not real.
  • Sweetie Terre des Hommes. [37]
  • It does sort of feel that way about the graphic quality tapering off. Part of the reason is when CGI movies were implanted it was so different from the actual in game graphic quality. The quality wasn’t that great, if you look back it now. Now, you have all of these graphic art companies working on visuals even Hollywood as well being involved in CG. Everyone was working hard to improve it and now we’ve come to a point where it is almost photorealistic.
  • Kazuyuki Ikumori [38]
  • The first time I used Aftereffects was in Blood: The Last Vampire. Taking hints from an approach that had been devised by Hisashi Ezura for the film, I devised a way of digitally processing the handling of light. In RahXephon, I built on this approach by coming up with a new way drawing an effect: I drew the component elements of the effect myself, and then manipulated these basic elements through multiplication and pasting to achieve the final effect. What I learned from the experience was the importance of instinct for knowing how best to arrange the material. That instinct - knowing how big to make a certain element, or how to finesse a certain movement - is something that you can only acquire through experience with 2D animation.
  • What is the single most time-consuming element of animation production? It is having to mold your work around the ideas of another person. In assembly-line animation production, each person has their specialized task, and your duty is to transform the ideas in the head of another person ahead of you on the conveyer belt into visual form, which is very difficult. I talked with the director and was given permission to handle all of the tasks. This facilitated my work by permitting me to handle everything how I felt it needed to be handled. This made the entire process much more efficient, as I was able to visualize every step of the way from script to animation to photography right as I was formulating each scene. As the director, I was also able to handle the processing, meaning that I could deal with retakes promptly, and I was able to do a drawing on the spot when I saw something was missing. The result was a dramatic savings of time and labor. This episode was on schedule and below average in cost (drawing count), and this additional hidden economic benefit of this method is something I would like to draw attention to.
  • It's computer animation. It's a new industry. It has limitations: It doesn't do skin, hair and clothing real well, he said. ``Take away skin, hair and clothing and you have crabs and insects.'
  • Animation in itself is an art form, and that's the point I think always needs clarification. True animation exists without any background, or any color, or any sound, or anything else; it exists in your hand. And you can take it and flip it. [...] What makes animation is the fact that you have a series of drawings that move. You don't even have to have a camera, you see; animation exists without it. If you want to broaden your audience, or make it more colorful or add music, then you put it under a camera one frame at a time, and then you run it at the same speed as you flip it, and then you have animation. If it depends basically upon soundtrack, or basically upon music, or color, graphic design, or anything else to sustain itself, then it is not unique to animation.
    • Chuck Jones Joe Adamson, "Witty Birds and Well-Drawn Cats: An Interview with Chuck Jones [1971]", in Chuck Jones: conversations, ed. Chuck Jones and Maureen Furniss (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2005), 63.
  • The best way, of course, to understand the animator is to see that he parallels the actor. He has the same responsibility a fine actor has. [...] Even the people who write about animation just don't seem to understand that when you have a drawing, you don't have a character. [...] "This is the first Bugs Bunny" has no meaning. It's how Bugs came to stand and move and act, and what his feelings were, and his thoughts, and what kind of personality he was. That developed over a period of time. And you need fine animators to do that.
    • Chuck Jones Adamson, "Witty Birds and Well-Drawn Cats", 61.
  • Everything on Saturday morning [cartoons] moves alike—that's one of the reasons it's not animation. The drawings are different, but everybody acts the same way, their feet move the same way, and everybody runs the same way. It doesn't matter whether it's an alligator or a man or a baby or anything, they all move the same.
    • Chuck Jones Adamson, "Witty Birds and Well-Drawn Cats", 64.
  • ̇It’s wonderful. It takes a long time, but you have all of this luxury of choice, which you don’t have in live action. You can design your own movie stars. Especially if you’re anal like I am, for someone who is a control freak, animation is torture and heaven at the same time. I worked as production designer on Epic as well, so I got to carve weapons out of nutshells and toothpicks. It’s like getting to make the coolest toy soldiers ever. And they’re paying me.
    • William Joyce [41]
  • In Sleeping Beauty, there's a scene where the prince is really exuberant, he runs across the stage, he grabs his father the King, King Hubert, and waltzes around with him, carrying him. The guy we had doing the live-action for the Prince was Ed Kemmer, and King Hubert was Don Barclay, who was a fat little circus performer, a really baggy-pants comedian. Kemmer could never possibly lift him off the ground, so this was a case where I had to animate it. I did that damned thing, and it's believable. The King has weight, but the Prince is strong enough to lift him off the ground, and it looks convincing—as convincing as any of the stuff that was taken from live action. I can do that, and I think that other animators should be able to do it. I don't think the surface has been scratched, really, with our kind of picture. I think you should be able to animate princes, or princesses, or any kind of difficult character, and make them believable. I don't mean realism, I mean you should be able to do things with them that a human being wouldn't be able to do. But make them convincing, make people be able to believe in them.
  • Yeah, with FF6 we used cg for the magical effects, I believe. In general we did things by hand for that game though. But yeah, with cg, we’ve been watching movies like Terminator 2 and studying the technology they used to make those graphics. Recently at Square we’ve been using those tools a lot. Originally we tried the technology out just for texture mapping on 3D objects, but with Chrono Trigger, for the first time we’re using texture mapping methods to add three-dimensionality to actual objects in-game. We still want the warmth of hand-drawn graphics though, so we’re trying not to make it too obvious where we’ve used the cg. But we felt it could add some nice variety to things if used sparingly.
  • It wasn’t a question of whether to use it at all, but how visible it should be. And it wasn’t a case of cg art being better than pixel art, or vice versa; you have to decide on a case-by-case basis which is appropriate, I think. With everyone thinking about the next generation of console hardware, it makes sense to have our designers studying that new technology now, in advance.
  • Yasuhiko Kamata, graphic design [42]
  • Firstly, I think you put your finger on it, which is I think about 25 years or so ago began what was the reconception in the eyes of the audiences that animation was no longer cartoons for kids. They were for everybody. Whether it was Beauty And The Beast, or Aladdin, or The Lion King - or all three - that's what really set the stage for it. In the 20 years since those movies, animation has become perhaps the most beloved genre of films throughout the world. Every year, when we look at the top 10 or 20 movies, animation tends to be if not the top genre, then close to it. Maybe now, today, the superhero Marvel movies are a bigger part of that, but it has not diminished us. We are still very big and very popular. And they are no longer cartoons. That's I think been very exciting.
    • Jeffrey Katzenberg [43]
  • What one might consider as limiting (working at only Walt Disney Animation Studios) has actually been incredibly expanding for me. Because of it’s stature, Disney has attracted so many of the best artists in animation within it’s walls ever since I’ve been here. The animation world is actually a rather small family and so many animators I know at other studios have come from Disney or are going to come here. There is a constant influence from outside of our studio walls. Disney itself is ever evolving and continually re-inventing itself. The studio of today is nothing like it was in the 70’s and nothing like it will be 10 years from now.
  • The CG movie scenes in FFVIII were created using motion capture. We employed actors and covered them with sensors to capture their movement. Other than that, we didn't use motion capture but preferred manual animation. We invited TV animation specialists to supervise us on that.
The biggest challenge was in the CG development, because the technology in this field has leapt forward so much. By using this and new 3D technology, we were able to incorporate more realistic facial expressions and emotions. Such increasingly realistic characters mean you must have a sophisticated script. And such sophisticated characterisation means more sophisticated dialogue. In order to balance this with the gameplay, however, we also had to incorporate pioneering technology. The Guardian Forces, for example. You must always take care of the total balance - visuals, music, gameplay...

oshinori Kitase * The main thing missing from cartoons is today that old cartoons were cartoony. They did things you can't do in any other medium. Today's cartoons are very conservative and are more like live action. The characters look the same in every frame of the damn cartoon. The old cartoons squashed, stretched, and did crazy expressions. They were imaginative and crazy. A lot of cartoons aren't imaginative, they just say things. It might as well be radio. There is no point in having anything to look at in modern cartoons. But you can't say that about every cartoon. Genndy Tartakovsky's cartoons are beautiful. The closest thing now to what I'm saying is SpongeBob but even that doesn't go very far. It's like a conservative version of Ren & Stimpy.

  • Well, when I came in during that era, all of the computer animation out in the world was being created by the people who wrote the software. It’s like imagining a world where the chemists who mix up the paint were also making all the paintings. I was really the first Disney-trained animator to come in and actually animate with the computer in the world.
Coming in, my approach was that I was going to need to learn computer programming. But all these other guys have master’s [degrees] and PhDs in computer science – I’m never going to know what these guys know. Then I realized, wait a minute, I was taught by the great Disney animators how to bring a character to life, and give it a personality and emotion through pure movement. That’s what I know, and they don’t know that. So instead of trying to learn what they know, I’m just going to sit next to them and we’re going to work in collaboration. That was totally unique at the time – to have a traditionally trained artist working side-by-side with these gifted computer scientists. That really became the foundation of Pixar and how the studio works: The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.
  • John Lasseter [45]
  • Super Mario Bros. was the first time I had to deal with a lot of blue-screen, but by the time I did Spawn I was comfortable with it. It's weird, though. You're talking to imaginary tape marks where the actors are supposed to be. The actors are never there, so that was really creepy, and I hated it. By the time I got to Spawn, I was like, "Okay, I can handle this. I might even be able to do cool stuff with this."
  • John Leguizamo [46]
  • It’s probably a little bit easier because I’ve done it for three movies now. But, it’s always a bit surreal when you’re looking at pieces of tape and stuffed animals and bean bags. You’re like, “Theodore, I miss you!,” and it’s a bean bag in your hand. That’s kind of strange.
  • It’s a good challenge. You get over the embarrassment factor, pretty quickly. You realize there’s a bunch of gruff crew dudes, standing around, watching you emote to a bean bag, and you’ve gotta just go, “What the hell? This is a part of the gig and I want to make it real.” You just pretend that it’s that thing, and you just go for it. It is a nice thing when you do see the movie and you go, “Wow, it really looks like I’m talking to these Chipmunks.” That’s a great challenge. That’s something I never thought I’d do, as an actor. I get to check that off my list, so to speak.
  • An indecent image of a child is just a picture of a rape in progress. And they look so real, that it’s difficult to tell the difference between real and a computer generated image.
  • Elena Martellozzo [48]
  • I worry if we continue to animate in the same way with multiple movies coming out year after year from studios that there will be a “sameness” to it all. I worry audiences won’t find them fresh. We embraced the snappier style of animation to what I did on the last Ice Age movie.
  • Steve Martino [49]
  • You have to understand that many of the scenes we're building just couldn't be done without the use of digital rendering.
    • Rick McCallum Anticipation: The Real Life Story of Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace by Jonathan Bowen p.7
  • The thing with the Batman show—even though it's one of the most beautiful and well-written shows, and it really gets into Batman—is that it doesn't really move that fast. The fight scenes aren't that intense, and it doesn't really go actiony. There's a lot of walking and talking in it. It looks great, but it needs that kick of having action. And I think that's another thing that kids are picking up on: For the first time, you're actually seeing superheroes really fight bad guys. In a lot of the cartoons when I was growing up, like Super Friends, there was no fighting of bad guys. They would just get sent off to jail. It was wacky, it was silly, it wasn't intense, and there wasn't real fighting and stuff in it.
  • People are trying to do different stuff. A lot of the networks are like, "Here's our new show, and we're trying to do this and get something original and unique." It's good that networks are looking for the next great cartoon, and they haven't completely brushed it off as something that's just for little kids. But I don't think there's been... The Simpsons is great. I like South Park; those guys really know what they're doing. A lot of the other shows just don't seem to be hitting. It seems like networks are so desperate to find that Simpsons or South Park that they're finding people who really might not be ready to do it, or might not be fans of animation. They might be guys who want to write scripts for sitcoms, so they're like, "Oh, I'll do a cartoon!" They don't have a love for the medium, so they're not really taking advantage of it.
  • I like Pixar, the philosophy they apply to their films. They're, to me, like what old Disney used to be: these creative guys trying to push the medium to a new level and do something great and do legitimate, honest films. I'm a big fan of what they've done. I like Japanese stuff. I don't know too much about it, but [Hayao] Miyazaki's films, like Princess Mononoke, are incredible. I don't know. I always get frustrated with everybody just trying to copy Disney. They're so stuck in that rut. There are all these other ideas you could do if you'd just have the confidence to go out and make a film that's not a Disney film. The Iron Giant was the best example of that. That was one of the best films I've seen. They didn't put any songs in it and they didn't try to make it a Disney film. They just did a great film. It proves that you can make really great films that don't have to fit into that mold. I just wish there were more companies taking that chance.
    • Craig McCracken [50]
  • Chris Miller: Yeah, doing a cable 2D animated show is very different from doing a big CG 3D spectacular, but we made a career out of being in over our heads, so we just jumped right in and luckily, we had a real amazing crew. There were 500 people working on this movie, a lot of really talented artists, and…
Phil Lord: It’s the same process, it’s just on a much larger scale. “Clone High,” maybe Chris and I were interfacing with 15 people any given day and giving directions and comments and thoughts, and suddenly, it jumps to like, “It’s 100 people and they’re all sitting in the same room.” The theater is a lot larger. Once you get over… I don’t even know if I ever even got over it… how awkward it is to give notes to a room of 50 people, but once you realize that it’s just the same thing, it gets a little easier.
  • Phil Lord: For sure it’s influenced by the Muppets. That was a very deliberate thing, because the Muppets are really simple characters, they’re really well-designed, they work great in 3D and they’re really expressive and those are all the things you want in a cartoon. I remember watching “A Bug’s Life” and having it click in my head, “Oh, it’s puppets. 3D cartoons, it’s about puppets.”
Chris Miller: The thing about human characters is in CG, if you make them look too realistic, they get kind of creepy looking, so early on, we definitely knew that we wanted the character designs to have a more cartoony aesthetic so one of the many sources, including the book and classic ’50s and ’60s animation, was the Muppets, and that went across for all the characters, especially Flint and Tim with his monobrow.
  • Our key designers and technical crew went down. One of the producers, Bill Miller, my brother, he went down. Then, we have a penguin expert called Dr. Penguin, one of the world’s leading authorities on the penguin. Well, he’s now on his 20th year down there. He goes down there every year. So, but all of our rigging, the people who rigged for the animation, they know the anatomy of a krill or an elephant seal or a penguin just really well. Because it’s based on nature, it kind of picks up on nature. We have to exaggerate our main characters because otherwise every character would look the same. It’s almost impossible to tell the movie like that. But by and large, everything is very close to their anatomy, not only that, the behavior of snow and wind and even the clouds in the sky is something that we follow very closely.
    • George Miller [52]
  • As for his experience as a live-action composer, I think there is very little difference in how a composer works on animation and live-action. Although typically an animated score is more closely married to the images. It was a terrific collaboration.
  • When I was a kid there was so much that I learned from cartoons. It was usually snuck in whether it was classical music I remember from great Bugs Bunny cartoons or Mr. Peabody and Sherman or so many others and I think that's what's really important ultimately when you're making stories and movies that do have kids as an audience. It's really important and was always important to me when I got started working at Disney, that you never want to talk down to kids. You want to shoot over their heads. A lot of times people will say, 'Oh they're not going to know this. I say, 'Yeah, but how are they going to learn it?'"
  • Well if you don’t like the actor’s performance in an animated film you can erase it. You can’t do that with a live actor. Hugh Laurie said to me once, when shooting Stuart Little “You must be very frustrated with me that you can’t come over and erase my eyebrows.” I said, “I’m not that frustrated about that.”
  • A single shot, four seconds long, could cost upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 to produce for instance. So the film wanted to be more balanced in favour of Stuart and the cats but what you're pointing out is unfortunately a valid problem
  • It's not my favourite aspect of the film but it came out of an artificially imposed limitation which was because the film was so expensive, we were limited in the amount of screen time we could have Stuart in. You could say Stuart Little was the most expensive actor in film - more than a Jim Carrey, Mel Gibson, or a Harrison Ford.
  • If it is a dying craft we can't do anything about it. Civilisation moves on. Where are all the fresco painters now? Where are the landscape artists? What are they doing now? The world is changing. I have been very fortunate to be able to do the same job for 40 years. That's rare in any era.
  • Hayao Miyazaki: We take [handmade] cell animation and digitize it in order to enrich the visual look, but everything starts with the human hand drawing. And the color standard is dictated by the background. We don't make up a color on the computer. Without creating those rigid standards we'll just be caught up In the whirlpool of computerization
  • I think animation has a tendency to make you a little arrogant. You create everything in a world, think you have answers for everything, etc. So, I think it’s the ultimate challenge for animation directors – jumping to live-action where you don’t have that control
  • Ken Narita: The movement of the characters during the in-game events was actually all done by character designers in the planning group. Normally those designers convey what they want to a motion specialist, who then animates them. But in our case, the character designers learned how to do the motion work, and if they wanted to add some movement or gesture to a character they did it themselves. That’s why each character’s movements differ depending on who created them. There were designers who liked very exaggerated movements, and those who preferred more quiet, subtle movement.
For the character battle animations, however, we had motion specialists for each character. But for all the other in-game events, the designers created the character’s movements themselves.
  • I think, if I remember right, I went to a party at the Disney Studios and that was years later when I was working with UPA. And gosh, they had a long bar and I came up to order a drink and Ham was there and he reached over and gave me a terrific handshake. I guess he respected me as much as I did him because we both knew that most of the Mickey Mouse animators couldn’t even draw Snow White. Because it isn’t even drawing a girl. There’s something about the line itself. A feminine line is different than a masculine line, there’s different kinds of lines in drawings. Drawing a nude man and a nude woman, well it’s like switching to Mickey Mouse or something from a photograph.
  • I created Betty Boop and instantly Walt Disney offered me a job and every other studio in Hollywood. Every one of them had been trying to create a girl character and couldn’t do it. The artists....drawing a girl is different from Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse or Bugs Bunny or things that are funny little characters. But Snow White had to be almost a real character and the reason was very simple: I had about eight years of art school experience and most of these kids had maybe a year or two at one of the smaller schools.
  • There have been a few women animated directors and they have been my role models. Certainly the more role models there are will help encourage girls in school who may be thinking about pursuing a career in animation and directing.
    • Jennifer Yuh Nelson [61]
  • That's really an interesting thought because one of things Walt was always complaining about – and I think that's one of the reasons Walt continually pushed for innovation at his studio – was that he always wanted to make things better, he wanted to make new things possible. I think Walt would have been quite impressed with the new digital technology because he would have a brand new tool that he could use in amazing ways. So while on one hand we've lost something as we move forward, I do recognise that things will always be changing. Animation changed from the 1930s to the 40s, on up through the 50s and 60s; there has always been new technologies being created, enabling us to make a better product.
  • It holds up extraordinarily well. As a work of art it was kind of like the pinnacle for Walt. It was the last film of its kind, really. It ended an era, back in 1959. From then on films would be made differently. So Sleeping Beauty was, I like to say, Disney's last hand-made product, where everything in that motion picture was done by hand.
  • Well I think the thing that a handmade film gives us is an artistic sensibility that is somewhat lost when technology is introduced. On the other hand, technology is amazing as it enables us to do incredible things. We had very distinct limitations on Sleeping Beauty. We were limited to five levels of cels. We could not go beyond five levels because then the image would become degraded. In the new digital technology there is no limit to how many levels you can have. So, there's a give and take. The technology enables us to do amazing things, yet the old hand drawn process brought a certain sensibility that I'm afraid we've lost because of that change.
  • Well, the obvious change is that theres more CGI stuff, which has become both more cost effective and nicer to look at. One of the great things about Jimmy Neutron for instance was that the movie was very successful and it translated beautifully from the small screen. It even looks better now than it did on the big screen because the folks who are doing the work at DNA productions are an incredibly talented group of people. They constantly find new and amazing magical tricks to make things look great. The CGI stuff is becoming more and more prevalent and Ive worked on a lot of shows over the past three or four years that are CGI Jimmy Neutron, Butt-Ugly Martians, another one called Dan Dare thats airing in England now. Of course, with the success of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Shrek its all CGI stuff and that technology absolutely astonishes me.
In terms of the voice aspect, the single most noticeable change is the advent of celebrities. Theres a lot of celebrity talent that I work with, and I enjoy that, but competing with them is difficult. I have no problem competing with them talent-wise I feel that Im good enough at what I do to hold my own with any actor in Hollywood in my segment. I feel good about my ability to improvise, to sing, to do dialects.
  • Hentai and anime in Japan is kind of a dying industry – animators earn so little here; their salaries are around £6,000 a year on average – that nobody does it as a career any more, so all the illustrating and production gets outsourced to companies in Korea, China and the Philippines.
  • We try in our CG, even the designs, to be very graphic and very stylized, harkening back to that 2D feel. We try not to go real; both Pierre and I are very against that, to be honest. And I always say that a drawing is inherently funny and appealing, but computer animation is inherently unfunny and unappealing, because you have to pull it out of a computer. It’s so methodical; the spontaneity of a drawing is what you’re trying to land. That life and spontaneity.
  • We did quite a few things that were new to us. With Despicable Me, we made very clear decisions with an existing pipeline, but we also knew it was our first film and there were a lot of things that had to be worked out with the cloth effects. But we didn't want to bite off more than we could chew. With this one, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and had a plethora of furred characters and environments. Every Truffula tree is a fur shader essentially; grass -- characters walking on grass; and large crowds of both animals and humans in the town of Thneedville; and of course in the forests. And we're continuing to master crowds for subsequent films like Despicable Me 2. The Minions are simpler characters but there's a nice hand-animated feel to the crowds, which we tried to maintain in Thneedville. Certainly some things are replicated, but we didn't use any software like Massive -- but certain spots call out characters in little background animations, which makes it fun. It gives that world life. I think at the end of the day, the crowds ended up being the most work intensive from the rendering point of view.
  • We had a lot of crowd animators. We did it in separate passes. We'd do the principal animation and then we had a special team that was the crowd animators and would have separate approval and ran in through. We developed a library of moves that we would replicate for some dancing.
  • I’ve been directing a pilot at Disney Television Animation. In that position, my day consisted of working on the storyboard with the artists, recording and editing the vocal tracks, working with the film editor on the animatic, working on the models and turnarounds and mouth charts and doing a lot of drawing to show some of the other artists what I’m hoping to achieve with the pilot.
  • Any story can be told in animation…I’m hoping someone will try to tell a story that’s brand new…not one that’s similar to every other story we’eve seen.
  • It doesn't make any difference what it cost, because it is about the investment in technology, the investment in story and an investment in our business which is animation. At the end of the day, what's important is what's on the screen, not how much it cost.
    • Peter Schneider [67]
  • Well, in animation, it’s so expensive that you don’t really have deleted scenes. That’s the whole point of the storyboarding. You see that early on and you end up having to commit. There were versions of scenes and little extra bits here and there that we trimmed, but not a huge amount. But there are deleted scenes and extra scenes in storyboards. Those might be included in the DVD version.
  • We knew right from the beginning that it was going to be in 3D. There were some really, really hard choices. I’m not a 3D expert and had to learn a huge amount about what works and what doesn’t. Often what you would shoot for 3D is the opposite of the choice you would make for 2D. For the home elf invasion sequence, I always wanted to do a sort of Paul Greengrass handheld camera thing, which is really hard to do in animation anyway with very fast cuts and moving cameras and so on. That doesn’t lend itself to 3D, so there’s an immediate challenge with two different aesthetics. But it doesn’t kind of work for what kids think is cool in action. Having said that, there’s a huge amount in the movie that I think is spectacular in 3D. It all came out of the world we had designed rather than change things for 3D. We don’t have anyone poke you in the eye for example. One of the things that’s great for 3D, though, is how detailed and tactile the world is. If you see the sleigh barn sequence in 3D, it’s fantastic because you feel you’re walking in this gorgeous, detailed 3D world. Arthur’s office is the same. It’s full of little details that have some physicality in 3D, which is brilliant. The other choice we made early on is when they go out on the sleigh. I wanted it to be like a road movie. Rather than have big, sweeping camera movements, we actually attached them to the sleigh on mounts in the computer. That actually makes those scenes fantastic for 3D because, visually, you’re anchored to the sleigh and it feels like being in the car of a roller coaster. You’re on the ride because you’re inside the sleigh. The other thing that’s fabulous in 3D is Mission Control because it’s the biggest set you’ve ever seen and it has fantastic lines of perspective from the camera right into the distance. The background is a big 2D screen, which makes the perfect 3D design. There were some things where we had to make the decision about the 2D or the 3D and which was going to take the lead, but a lot of it has the 3D process opening it all up in a really brilliant way.
  • The biggest challenge in making a movie of this style is that you can do anything, but the bad news is that you can do anything. So what that means is that, you know, you don’t go on a location scout and find the perfect mead hall, and then go shoot your movie there - every detail in the mead hall has to be constructed and designed in the computer. So if you see a sky, you see a sunset, or you see the lighting in a certain way, it’s not like, you know, there’s a gaffer and everybody shows up and it’s perfectly lit and you shoot it and you’re done. You have to light every scene. All the detail that you see like this, it all came from some artistic vision. And it had to be depicted in the film. So that is a hard unseen aspect of making a movie this way, it’s all a part of the vision of some filmmaker, or a group of artists.
  • Steve Starkey [69]
  • I'm a very kind of old-school type of person that I love hand-drawn things. Things that we do now in CG are pretty amazing. But it's also, I think, we're in our infancy with it because, you know, the computer is so good at mimicking reality — and you could obviously see that in all the live-action films — that it'd be fun to try to take that tool and try to take it the other way to see how stylized and interesting and different and really from another distinct point-of-view you could get with it. I try not to think of the technology as much because we need to entertain, so I think people won't care what programming tool we use or what renderer we use. They really care if we're communicating the jokes in the story and the emotions in the right way.
  • I feel like you want to experience something new and different and something unique. I mean, I always strive to do something different, although TV projects that I've done, one is different than the next ... Going to the movies is more expensive nowadays, it has to be kind of an event or it has to be something that you haven't seen before that you could be like, "Wow, we can't miss that. We have to take the family and see it." So, I try to strive as best I can.
  • I think TV is sometimes more creatively satisfying because, you know, every week, like say on Samurai Jack, we were able to do something new and different. We really challenged ourselves. Oh, this week, we're going to fight zombies, and so, we'll do a real scary one. The next week, we're going to do a rave, and so we'll do it not as scary and just do more focusing on the dancing and the music. So, that was really fun creatively, but then the speed makes you suffer, because we have to go so fast. We have limited budgets, and so, we just go as fast as we can. Everything that we do is really our first instinct.
The opposite of that is in films, we have great budgets, huge amounts of time, but then, you know, you have to prove that it's right over and over again, and you have to convince everybody that what you're doing is right. Whereas in TV, it's like, yup, that looks good, and then six months later, we saw it on the air. So, that part of it is more challenging. There's something definitely about doing something from your gut, putting it down on paper and then, it's on TV.
  • Genndy Tartakovsky [70]
  • Work hard. That’s the thing that most people who love games and animation may not realize about what they’re seeing. It requires an ugly amount of work. You have to dedicate your life to it, but I believe almost anyone can learn how to make games and animate at a competent level. I don’t believe in following your dreams and going into too much fairy dust about the arts. Sure, it’s fun, but there are many times it’s not fun and you still have to do it.
    • Doug Tennaple [71]
  • We had to be able to animate them so that they felt like flesh and blood, but most importantly you had to believe that they had souls behind their eyes.
  • After that, we developed a lot of techniques for casting the head or hair in other materials so they would be hard and you wouldn’t smoosh them when you grabbed the character to turn it. Part of it was that I was a complete purist about the idea that everything in Mark Twain be made of clay. That came from seeing a lot of puppet animation in the past, Eastern European and Asian and so on, where the materials got in the way of the story, because you’d be watching it and getting into it and then all of a sudden you’d see the clothing is clearly a cheap piece of burlap, or you’d see corrugated cardboard at the edge of the set. It blows the scale and takes you out of the story. So my rationale was to let everything be clay so that you never run into that. I’ve softened my purist quality since then (laughs), but I do think that it gives the film a rare appeal and particularly interesting quality, especially dealing with things like water and clouds…
  • Actually I’m very pleased to see stop-motion getting its due. I can’t tell you how many times in my career I’ve heard people pronounce stop-motion dead, and a couple of years later there’s a so-called revival. This past year there were more major stop-motion feature films released in theatres than ever in history, so that’s cool. To me, it really depends on the story and how you want to do a visual interpretation of that story. Sometimes, animated films aren’t using the best technology or designs for the stories they pick, and I think that’s the issue. If you have a story that really works well with the strengths and attributes of stop-motion, it’s ultimately rewarding. Having said that, any stop-motion film these days is going to be about 40% CG.
    • Will Vinton AWN
  • We really wanted to create our own path in the animation space. There are so many other people doing great work, I just didn’t want to follow that path, so we all just decided let’s not treat it like an animated movie, let’s just try to make it feel like a live action movie, as if I got a camera on my shoulder and there’s a 5 foot 8 lizard talking to a tortoise and photographing it. So it’s really trying to make it feel like it was something that was occurring rather than something we were fabricating even though we were fabricating every frame.
    • Gore Virbinski [73]
  • Back when Cowboy Bebop was in production, we never knew that Japanese anime would have any impact overseas, so we totally didn't see Westerners being exposed to the show. We just made what we enjoyed making, and the fact that it got accepted in the west at all was the most surprising thing. I grew up with US movies so it made me very happy that Americans liked my things, because I was raised on their things, in a way. The moment that made the biggest impact on me here did involve Edward, because Edward was a character I made thinking that no person existed like her in real life. But when I went to Texas, there was someone cosplaying as Ed, and it was like they'd stepped out of the anime. It was completely her if she had been living. How's that for a big impact?
  • Shinichiro Watanabe [74]
  • You have to make all the same decisions that a live action director would have to make. Everything from where to put the camera to what the emotional tone of the scene is going to be, in addition to answering all the questions about costume design and weather and color and all the numerous elements that go into making the scene. We're there every step of the way from the very first crude character designs and early storyboards to how loud the footsteps of the Beast should be as he's walking across the marble floor. We shepherd the process from beginning to end.
  • Anything can be done live-action if you have unlimited time and unlimited money. But it wouldn’t have looked like the book and it wouldn’t have kept the same emotion as the wonderful paintings that Chris illustrated. So I don’t think it would have been as true to the book if it was done live-action.
    • Robert Zemeckis [76]

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