Sunday, February 28, 2010

oscar animated shorts

My favorite of the animated shorts was A Matter of Loaf and Death- but I have previous admiration for the capers of Wallace and Gromit. It also stood out among the rest as it was stop motion claymation- the old fashioned way to animate- while all the other films were digital. It had a fully thought out story and thought it was the most complicated, it had an excellent pace. 
My second favorite was French Roast- incredibly simple, a camera that did not move, the most minimal amount of dialogue, but a very clear, compelling, and artful story. Most of the action was conveyed through intricate facial expression and sighs rather than explicit action or dialog.
While the animation of Logorama was interesting and original- incorporating corporate logos in every space available, it also was a bit heavy handed in its message. Anti-advertisement politics + 2012= Logorama. 
Granny O'Grimm was a scary grandma telling her young grandchild a twisted story of sleeping beauty, using CGI animation of two different styles- realistic and the storyland style. Unfortunately it was rather cliche and did little to scare or charm, and at least for me, dragged on a bit long. 
The Lady and the Reaper was an interesting mix of animation styles- the exaggerated but realistic pixar style in the first scene, followed by more abstract chase scenes and the somewhat realistic hospital scenes. While the story was compelling and well paced, it was on the heavy handed side- obviously pushing an agenda. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

animated shorts

I watched French Roast, Granny O'Grimms Sleeping Beauty, and the Lady and the Reaper. French Roast was my favorite. I thought the graphics were amazing and reminded me of Pixar studios. I loved the idea of one camera shot through and through, there were no jumps to different angels and the animators found a way to show all the action with that one shot and a simple pan. At first the reflections in the window were hard to distinguish, I thought the waiter was on the other side of the window until he walked in front of the table. It was easy for me to relate to the man being asked for money. Living in Philadelphia people are always asking for money and like the cartoon most of them are not polite and/or grateful.
Granny O'grimms was a different take on bed time stories. The little girl is shaking in her bed as if a child would do if they thought there were monsters under it. We learn that she is afraid of the bedtime story her grandmother is about to tell her. Granny turns sleeping beauty into a nightmareish story that would frighten any young child. Grannys voice is perfect for her character. There is also a photo of Jesus on the wall that contradicts the horror story granny is telling. The picture is a detail in the art design that is not seen in the other animations.
The Lady in the Reaper was a good story of a widow who was ready to pass on and be reunited with her husband. She goes on a journey where her soul leaves her body and she see the reaper and hopes that she will soon be reunited with the love of her life. But the doctors bring her back to life. She gets up and punches the doctor then finds a way to kill herself through electrocution. while the story was probable the strongest the animation quality was not like the others. It was more old school paper drawing animation than digital animation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Found on youtube

I found this on youtube today and thought it was a good example of some things we've been doing in After Effects lately.

~Jeff McReynolds


Although I was a little taken back by the murderous, gun-smuggling, AK-47 wielding Ronald McDonald, Logorama stood out from the other nominated shorts. It had a very serious agenda and was executed extremely effectively. Absolutely every inch of the digital world was covered in logos that served practical purposes and had double and triple meanings below the surface. It was almost impossible to taken in all the layers of meaning in one viewing. The other shorts ranged from cute and funny to somewhat grim and--well--funny, either way nothing that seemed to affect me in a profound way. Logorama made me slightly uncomfortable from the minute the warning announcing its coming showed on the screen. It was unforgiving in its assault on corporations and consumerism, and none the worse for it. All in all it got across the point very well, and I enjoyed figuring out the meaning behind all the logos and the parts they played in the story.

Animation Short Film

The Lady and The Reaper Animation Short

This story was written and directed by Javier Recio Garcia. It is about and old lady that wants to die to be with her husband. A grim reaper attempts to grant her this wish, but his attempts are intervened by an Emergency Room doctor and several nurses, that keeps trying to save her life. She then commits suicide anyway after the hospital personnel save her life.

Technically, I liked the way the story began by first hearing the music, then the object, and then the record player, that was playing the music, and then finally the main character pointing to a photograph of her dead husband. This got my attention, and made me want to know more about what was to happen next, and it also made the experience more personable. I also loved the sound effects, such as the idling sound of the record player, the windmill whirling sound, and the music that played when the grim reaper first appeared and attempted to carry the old lady to the afterlife. I like the lighting effects when the doctors grab the old lady out of the hands of the grim reaper, the fade to white scene in the emergency room, and when she electrocuted herself, the lights in the operating room flickered and went black.

I liked the subliminal references the writer included in displaying the process of dying, from the point of view of being on an operating room table. We all would probably experience similar events, of seeing things like white light, people from our past, seeing our souls magically fly to heaven or hell, and other subconscious thoughts, while the doctors are trying to save our lives.

I didn't like the ending scene of the story, when after the doctors saved her life, she committed suicide anyway, by electrocuting herself in the operating room hand tub. I did like the religious reference in this ending scene. I say this to say, doesn't one of the ten commandments in the Bible say, "Thou shall not kill". I am sure this statement also included the killing of oneself, and if this sin is committed, that person will burn in hell. Maybe that's why the writer had the grim reaper attempt to come and take her away to see her husband, instead of one of God's angels.

Overall, the animated movie was nice, although I still have trouble with "feeling" the characters in cartoon animation, which is why I like rotoscoping animation movies even more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ch.3 Response

The effect of closure on images in sequence is a subjective experience for every individual viewing the images. That is the details of what is supposed to be happening will be unique to every person. Closure is a great tool for creators because it makes use of their audiences own subjectivity, and therefor can create an effect received differently all around. I don't have much more to say about closure because it such a broad techneque, and is really left up to the viewer, but it is an excellent technique nonetheless.

Chapter 3

This chapter focused on the aspect of what we see. Everything within the world is focused on what we believe to be true while we never actually do see what is all there. The chapter goes on to focus on 5 different types of writing comics and how they use the reader to interpret what is going on within the chapter. This is most interesting because it explains the way comics are written as a interactive form of media for the writer to let the reader go on their own way. Theres is a big difference in the way Eastern comics of specifically detailed sequence are written compared to western comics of specifically action sequence. The western comics focus on the detail to get a feel for the environment and are generally much longer while the eastern is summed up action point to point between the margins. The idea of closure is used to explain the interactive form of media that the audience takes away from the comic. The closure that a comic provides is that bit of detail between what is happening by frame to frame into the audience making their own little quick film/movement out of the pictures.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 describes how our brains can make conclusions without visual facts. For example, a photograph of a person; we may only see them from the waist up but we assume that they have legs. McCloud explains this act by calling it closure. He shows how people can see a few pictures (100 frames apart for example) and understand what happened in the missing frames. To understand that a figure is jumping an audience needs to see the figure and possibly a reason for the figure to jump. We do not need to see the figure bend their knees and extend them and come off the ground and reach for the object and come back down and look satisfied, we just need the establishment that the figure will jump and the conformation that they are air born and the satisfaction that enforces the completion of the task. Closure effects the meaning of moving images by taking out the unnecessary frames and letting our brains image the missing pieces.

Chapter 3

In chapter 3 mccloud explains how our brain constantly create closure to an image or series of images. In his own words "Closure allows us to connect these moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality. As he explained in chapter 2, when we see a face from a circle with a line amd two dots we are committing the act of closure. Within Newspapers our brains take the half-tone images and forms then into an actual image. When two images are placed together there are 6 types of transitions due to closure. Moment to moment, action to action, subject to subject, scene to scene, aspect to aspect, and non-seuitur. Action to action is the most common for most transitions. Between film frames, closure is mistaken for real movement.

Monday, February 15, 2010

McCloud, Chapter 3

Generally speaking, closure occurs when one sees a part of an object or event but perceives the entire object of event. This occurs in single images when one sees a part of an object and imagines that the whole object is present. Between images and text, one’s imagination combines the two into one idea. Closure between two images can indicate the passage of time, an action occurring, a change in perspective, a change in location, or there may be no logical relation at all. In film, it occurs so quickly that one is unaware of it. Closure between scenes necessitates some change in time, place, or both. Without the human mind’s ability to create closure, there would be no meaning between sequential images.

ch 3 understanding comics

Scott McCloud uses the term closure to mean the way readers of comics draw imaginary conclusions from transitions in images, frame to frame. The use of text can also lead to conclusions about changes in time and space. In two or more images in sequence, the closure is in the reader's interpretation of the relation- usually in comics through time and space, through similarities in the background, the characters movements, and themes. It is though persistence of vision that closure takes place in film. The ultimate effect of closure is that through conventions of media and learned reader expectations, comics, and any visual medium, can access the reader's imagination to read things which have not been explicitly drawn on the page, such as movement, or even concepts.

Understanding Comics, Chap 3

1. Please discuss how McCloud uses the term "closure" in regard to how visual meaning is created in:

sight – He states on page 63, “In our daily lives, we often commit to closure, mentally completing that which is incomplete based on past experiences”. For example, if we saw half of an object, then we can assume what the whole of that object will look like. He also says on page 89, “Comics is a mono-sensory medium. It relies on only one of the senses to convey a world of experience”. He’s referring to our sights.

a single image – Again, he says if you see a face with 2 dots and a line, you will associate it to be a face. This association will bring you closure. On page 61, he states, “In this panel you can’t even see my legs. Yet you assume that they’re there.”

between image and text – There is more reader involvement, because not only is the reader to visually interpret the image, but the reader must understand the meaning of the words that represent the image.

• between one image and another in sequence (what are all the possibilities of this one?) – He says the space between the panels is called the gutter. Our minds combine these sequences and do the following:

1. form them into a single idea

2. builds a continuous story

3. based on our experiences, our mind makes up what is missing

Also he list different types of image sequences such as:

1. Moment-to-Moment – each image shows some of the previous image

2. Action-to-Action –each image shows a part of the same action

3. Subject-to-Subject – the reader uses his imagination to piece together the images

• between film frames – Closure is continuous, involuntary and so fast that you may not notice it. He states on page 68, “The closure of electronic media is continuous, largely involuntary and virtually imperceptible”.

• between scenes (what are all the possibilities of this one?) – He list several types of closure that displays great time and motion:

1. Scene-to-Scene – these occur over time

2. Aspect-to-Aspect – different similar scenes that can relate to each other

3. Non-Sequitur – shows no relationship between scene

2. What is the effect of closure in creating meaning with moving/sequential images?

It allows you to make sense of the moving image, and lets your mind create it’s own interpretation of the story of the moving image, by putting the comic strip pieces together through association.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Understanding Comics Chapter 3

McCloud calls closure the grammar of comics and goes on to say that it is so important that "comics is closure." Closure is persistence of vision carrying over into all different storytelling mediums. It is the brain filling in information between "frames". It has the most freedom to interpret with books and written word and the least with the continuity of film. McCloud discusses what he believes to be the six types of transitions used in comics. These are all techniques used to let the reader participate in the story; ranging from the detailed "moment-to-moment" to the "non-sequitur" (which seemingly has no relationship between frames). McCloud briefly covers how Japanese culture tries to emphasize "negative space" realizing its power. Comics take advantage of this somewhat by loosely guiding the reader with images, but leaving a lot of the action up to the imagination.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ch.2 Response

My favorite point Scott McCloud makes is about how "Simplification is Amplification". In that by omitting many realistic details, you focus more on the ones left behind, allowing for them to embody more of a meaning and also allowing us, the viewer, to attach our own meanings and interpretation, effectively connecting us with the artwork or icon more. In this case the simplified imagery will embody more of an extension of ourselves, rather than a representation of reality. This allows the artist or creator to infuse larger concepts into his or her work with out limiting them to an accurate representation of whatever.
Scott talks about how we can't help but seeing a face in anything that even remotely resembles two eyes above a mouth, for instance a power outlet, front of a car, etc. So in animation, or comics, this allows the artist the freedom to recreate something that looks like a face or person, but then add other qualities or characteristics that are in no way realistic to a human being. At that point the added qualities can come with their own implications, and from the combination of these abstract qualities and the resemblance of something familiar, we can begin to make statements in regards to anything, and form concepts that could not have been represented through something closer to reality.

Understanding Comics, Chap 2

What are some of the points that Scott McCloud makes about “icons”? Discuss some of the ways in which the realist image and the iconic image operate differently in creating pictorial meaning. Give an example and analyze it, using McCloud’s terms.
• Scott states there are different categories of icons.
• Symbols – Nazi sign, American flag, Exxon gas station sign
• Language, science and communication – the letter of the alphabet, a music note symbol, the dollar sign
• Pictures – images of an apple, bat and hand
• He also states that icons represent real life objects on different levels.
• Highest Level - photographs
• Next is – realistic picture
• Next lower level – abstract drawings
• Lowest Level – most simplified abstract cartoon
• Ways the realistic image and the iconic image operate differently:
• Most simplistic iconic image –
• Simplifies things so that we can just focus on the action, and not all the details that make up the realistic image.
• Simplified things are easier to understand, to get to the point faster, and to see the whole picture from point A to Z.
• In a simplified image, it is easier to concentrate on the message, and not the messenger as in a realistic image as McCloud states.
McCloud says in Understanding Comics, Chap 2, page 30, “When we abstract an image through cartooning we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details.”
• The same cartoon can be used to describe multiple people unlike a real photograph. Your mind is satisfied with allowing you to see and recognize a cartoon as a face, although your mind knows it is not a ‘real’ face. McCloud is also saying that we don’t want someone else to tell us about a story, but that we want to be the story. He states, “A cartoon is just the little voice inside our head. A little piece of you. A concept.” On page 31, he states, “The fact that your mind is capable of taking a circle, two dots and a line and turning them into a face is nothing short of incredible! But still more incredible is the fact that you cannot avoid seeing a face here. Your mind won’t let you!” And last on page 36, He declares, “Thus, when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face----you see it as a face of another. But when you enter the world of the cartoon----you see yourself”.

ch 2

There is a specific difference between icons and images. Icons are universal representations of ideas or things, while images are more individual, sometimes artistic or abstract representations. Icons are much closer to symbols, and must be universally recognizable. Comics use both to tell a story.

chapter 2

The discussion throughout the chapter of iconic images is important to the society that we are in today. Everything is based off of images in our world today and even little children who can't read know images and what they mean. The chapter helps explain the world today and the use of iconic images.

McCloud, Chapter 2

An icon represents a person, place, idea, or thing. Words are very abstract icons. Realistic images make the subject seem more objectified, while iconic images are more general, allowing people to identify with them. Iconic images are universal, as opposed to the specificity of realistic images.

Wells, Chapter 1

You can find examples of experimental animation in many different media. I have seen examples of what would be considered experimental animation on screensavers on many computers. I think that any screensaver that involves a shape that changes its color, size, position, or shape would be a good example of experimental animation.

chapter 2 response

McClouds approach to describing the aesthetics of comics give a clear sense of how people interpret what they see. Weather what they are seeing is in a comic, a web page, or an illustration. I enjoy reading "understanding comics" because of the format along with the context. Each page has short and to the point points. Every comic is different and shows a clear example of what is being said in the text. In chapter 2 McCloud proves, through his comics, that people get the full meaning of a picture even if it is not realistic. The symbols we lean to accept and become accustom to don't need vivid detail or even have to look remotely like the real thing. People understand and accept the icons for the real thing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Understanding Comics Chapter 2

McCloud describes icons as images that "represent a person, place, thing or idea." They must bear some resemblance to the thing that it is representing, else words and symbols would be considered icons too; these are too abstract for McCloud. Once operating inside the world of icons, one must decide how realistic it will look. This directly affects the effectiveness of an icon. The more detailed and realistic an image is, the more it is focused on specific details of the person, place, thing, or idea. This can be used to target a specific audience, but will also alienate some. The more vague and "generic" an icon, the more broadly it is recognized and accepted. A good example of this is icons used to represent male and female restrooms, they are used almost universally with no need for altering. The figures include so little detail that they do not imply any nationality or body structure, but are accepted to represent males and females (even though they do not look anything like human bodies as McCloud observes).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Understanding Animation Chapter 1

The way that animation is described in "Thinking About Animated Films" it almost seems that animation has been in constant battle with "normal" film (ie. things that can be photographed in the real world). It is portrayed as the anti-film in a way. Since animation is supposed to represent impossibilities in our world, it has been used in different ways to explore the imagination and fantasy. In America, animation is often thought of as for children and given over to impossible fantasy like fairy tales and mother goose rhymes. In some European countries like the former country of Yugoslavia, however, they used animation to represent the limits of the human mind. They portrayed very serious and psychological themes that were received much differently than Disney's films in America.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Experimental Animation

Do you see elements of Wells definition of experimental animation in some of the everyday examples of animation on TV, the internet, screens in public places, or in gaming or handheld media devices?

I see experimental animation used in computer media players such as I-Tunes and Windows Media Player. The software used are called “Visualizations”, and they show objects and shapes moving around the screen in 3d space, full of colors. These objects move to the beat and rhythm of the music. Viewing these visualizations while listening to music, cause one to feel a certain way creating a relaxed or intense mood. In the pdf article, “Terms and conditions: Experimental Animation”, on page 4, it states, “Experimental animation has a strong relationship to music and, indeed, it may be suggested that if music could be visualized it would look like colours and shapes moving through time with differing rhythms, movements and speeds. Many experimental films seek to create this state,…some film-makers perceive that there is a psychological and emotional relationship with sound and colour which may be expressed through the free form which characterizes animation.”

Chapter 1 – Thinking About Animation

What is Animation? I really like McClaren’s definition of animation. He says, “ Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but rather the art of movements that are drawn. What happens between each frame is more important than what happens with each frame”. (Solomon, 197: 11)

Also, I found interesting the different ways the American Animators and the Czech Animators create their works. The American’s works evolve mostly around copying the physical world of real objects, realities and peoples and animating them. The Czech’s animated work evolves around the fantastical, allowing their objects and realities to appear mostly all surreal.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Understanding Animation ch 1

It is interesting how the language of comics, through squiggly lines, POWS, and zzzs, carried through to early animation. It is then further interesting how the very open form of animation, utelized most by European avant guard-ists, was streamlined and given limiting conventions by Disney. These limits give limit to expectations for animations as well as limiting the ideological subversion they can create. In creating the industry of animation, Disney helped pave the way for moral confrontations in realistic scenarios rather than graphic and thematic anarchy (p 23). I compared this to the animation I am accustomed to, Disney fairy tales, Warner Bros anthropomorphisms and running gags, superheros with exaggerated qualities but realistic environments, and newer computer animations that attempt to recreate reality in a fantastic way- Lord of the Rings, Avatar. The more abstract, unconventional animation is secluded to underground avant guard, commercials, music videos- separate from narrative animation. Animation is often used in TV commercials, perhaps because it is though to be linked to the subconscious? Yet at the same time there seems to be a push to view animation for a wider genres than children and comedy. Waking Life, Adult Swim, and anime show many different genres and convention breaking animation.

-Hannah Schulman

McCloud, Chapter 1

McCloud writes that comics is an art form just like any other, and that it essentially refers to art in a sequence. What this means is that comics have been around in one form or another for over three thousand years. They have existed in many cultures, including ancient Egypt, imperial Europe, or even the Aztec civilization, which had no prior knowledge of comics from Europe or Africa.

Comics also relates to the history of written language. Words first started appearing in comics as early as the mid-1800’s in the works of Rudolphe Topffer. The words and images depended on one another to tell a story. This is generally regarded as the origin of modern comics.

ch1. understanding comics: response

In this first chapter of Understanding Comics, author Scott McCloud tries to define and differentiate comics from other art forms. He does so by labeling it sequential art, meaning multiple images juxtaposed together to create a story or running idea. For the most part it seems comics have stayed the same for millions of years. Though they've produced wonderful offspring such as animation. Comics will always be the same (in regards to their composition or look), but they will always have an infused personal meaning, message, or story that reflects the time they were created in. So even though one comic may not seem much different than one from a decade before it, they each embody the period in which they were created, and therefore are like enlightening time capsules into previous decades or even centuries ago; all the nuances and cultural implications will be infused into the pages of that little booklet.