In my last film, “Nagasaki Circus” I was desiring to push some boundaries. The film itself isn’t entirely innovative or experimental, but to have called it “animation” might have been.
I like arguing about animation.
Currently, the question, “what is animation?” has become very subjective.
I wanted “Nagasaki Circus” to simply be honest about it. Although it doesn’t follow the traditional “succession of photographs” or “frame-by-frame” definition, it is indeed, very animated. “Nagasaki Circus” is animation in real-time. All the AE compositing involved in the piece might be able to cheat it into the realm of “animation”, thanks to the volume of commercial animation work these days that consists of more compositing than actual “animation”.
Considering the direction of computer generated, interpolated graphics that are widely accepted as “animation” (motion capture being one example), I don’t think we have been able to use such clear-cut and strict definitions for a long time. On the opposite end of the scale, I’ve enjoyed “animated” films which consist of one frame for the entire scene — illustration, edited, with no motion at all — essentially an entertaining slide show.
“More power to ’em!!” I shout to the heavens! If it works, so be it!
The term “animation” is subjective, and the fine artists of animation need to be open to redefining if we’re going to continue to evolve and experiment and find new twists and turns and ways to entertain each other.
It has quickly become an argument parallel to “what is art”? I’ve long since walked away from trying to define it, and decided to simply enjoy it. That is, after all, what art is meant for.
In fact, I might feel a bit of a failure if someone was able to look at my artwork and easily categorize and label it as a type.
Feist’s music video, “Honey, Honey” sets a great example, and it makes me proud. It’s a beautifully animated piece, regardless of filming technique.
Where does the line of “animated” end, exactly? This short film feels like stop-motion and is far better than many. The average person enjoying it might not even notice that it’s puppeteering, under a live-action camera. There’s no compositing that I’ve noticed, no trying to pretend it’s any more complicated than it is (apart from the frame chopping, to give it a nice stop-mo feel). But it’s puppets moving in real time, with hands even playing a roll in the story.
But, you know, I’d love to see it in an animation festival. And it will probably get into some. Why? Because festival directors will like it and option to turn a blind eye to categories.
I’m trying to tear my world wide open here, in my career as a animation filmmaker. But I’m afraid that too much experimenting will leave me somewhere in-between both worlds, without acceptance into either one. I feel as if there are still things I’m not allowed to do as an animator. I became an animator so that anything could be possible.
I’m beginning development on my next short film and I believe it’s going to be mostly classical, partially because I miss drawing, but also because people understand what to make of it.
I hope to never water down my art for the sake of acceptance, but I also need acceptance in order for my art to be seen, and essentially exist. What is visual art if it isn’t seen? (If a tree falls in the woods…)
I love the animation festival world more than anything and my eyes are always opened to new and wonderful things when I go, but in some ways I think the commercial world is more accepting of experimentation, because they don’t care what category if falls under. If they like it, they like it. If it sells, it sells. But festivals have rules.
Perhaps filmmakers older than me have been through these sorts of questions already and maybe it’s not an issue once one has found themselves and their style and have become comfortable defending it. But I’m finding there are still a lot of animation purists around who have a hard time opening up to step outside the rules and official categories, when it comes to animated film.
I originally tried to send this note as an email to OIAF’s Artistic Director, Chris Robinson (who once jokingly referred to “Nagasaki Circus” as “cheating”. I jokingly agreed. But then I believe the entire art of animation is cheating — Cheating real life. So should there be such strict rules to cheating??)
Anyway, I found that every email address I tried was a fake. Hopefully he’ll find his way here through Google alerts when I tag him. Then maybe some one will start a nice, good fight!