Sunday, October 27, 2019

Art And Hyper Reality In Animation How Have Things Changed Film Essay

Art And Hyper Reality In Animation How Have Things Changed Film Essay Introduction In this dissertation I will be posing the question Art and hyper reality in animation and how have things changed? A lot of commercial animation today is being pushed by 3D computer technology and the audience perceptions of the true meaning of animation had been clouded by this new era of animated film. I want to find out about the commercial acceptance of animation and the history behind it. This is an interesting subject area because a lot has changed in the past 50 years in terms of animation and moving image. I will be finding out how recent technological advancements in creating realistic looking visuals has effected how we perceive animation and if it has retracted from the original statement that animation is an art form. Recent commercial animation being produced is full of realistic 3D computer graphics therefore moving away from the more traditional 2D animation process. I want to find out why using a sense of visual realism in animation has become the norm. By looking at a range of hyper realistic animation such as Final Fantasy I will be able to find out why they have become so accepted and how the modern audience have adapted their tastes to this new form of representation in cinema. Modernism and post-modernism movements were very powerful in the art world and I want to see how breaking away from a certain way of working brings a new wave of creation, this chapter can be applied to animation in the way that animation has broken away from using pencils and now rely heavily on computer technology. I will also be looking into animators that were the pioneers of the animated form and what they were trying to achieve in the early stages of this emerging medium. These early animators were seen as being experimental because they were the first people that were doing this kind of work. Also by looking into Disney and the way he managed to commercialise animation will give clues as to how 3D computer animation has done the same thing with the likes of Pixar. Audience trends play a big role into finding out about commercialisation and how society/ culture can affect certain trends. By looking into the re-invention of cinema and its audiences I will be able to find out how these factors have changed how people perceive art in cinema. I will then summarise what I have learnt from doing this dissertation and answer my title question in relation to the chapters I have discussed. Contents Reality effects in computer animation. My first chapter will be discussing reality effects in computer animation. I will be referencing an article by Lev Manovich and reviewing the content in this chapter. This article is relevant to the title question because it looks at how technology has affected the process of making realistic looking visuals. This chapter will help me to understand how visual realistic imagery has advanced and why 3D visuals are superseding traditional ways of working. I will also be mentioning and talking about some animated films which use computer technology and how they have helped push the boundaries of what can be achieved by using this technology. Animation and its progression to commercialism My second chapter will be looking into experimental animation which will discuss the reason why animation visuals dont have to make sense to still be true to the animated form. Experimental animation is a genre in itself and I will be looking at why new audiences want to see visually realistic imagery over an abstract film. I will also be discussing how Walt Disney commercialised animation and how this has changed the audiences perception of animation. This chapter will create a contrast between the first chapter and show just how different these animated practices are. Modern and post-modern movements My third chapter will be talking about the modern and post-modern movements and finding where animation fits into them. This will be interesting to look into because these movements can be applied to what is happening now such as cinema breaking away from more traditional 2D animation to 3D hyper realistic animation. Modern Audience in relation to animation My fourth chapter will be looking into audience trends in the cinema. This will help me to understand why audiences are becoming more and more comfortable with being exposed to computer generated imagery when 20 years ago the industry was more interested in traditional 2D and stop motion imagery. Conclusion My final chapter will be concluding what I have studied in this dissertation and answering the title question. Chapter 1: Reality Effects in Computer Animation I will be reviewing the article, Reality Effects in Computer Animation by Lev Manovich, which is from Jayne Pillings book A Reader In Animation Studies London 1998. Lev Manovich is an author of new media books and a professor of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego, U.S. where he teaches new media art and theory. I will also be discussing what methods animators go through to achieve a sense of realism. The purpose of the article is to identify how reality in animation and cinema first developed and how different levels of realism have affected these industries. The title question is important because the rapid growth of cinematic and computer technology is constantly changing the advances in reproducing reality. Therefore it is interesting to find out how other practitioners have identified the term realism and the impact their thoughts have had in defining the purpose of reality in computer animation. The main points I will be discussing in this review will be the compar isons between early attempts of realism and three dimensional computer graphics. I will also be discussing how the developments of new technology have further enhanced realism in regards to computer animation and cinema. This article starts with outlining the early discoveries of recreating the human form in a visual output such as paintings. Giotto di Bondone (an Italian painter) has been mentioned as being the first person to produce three-dimensional forms on a flat surface. He has been compared with his mentor Cenni di Pepo or also known as Cimabue who was also an Italian painter. Cimabues work in comparison with three-dimensional computer imagery is mentioned as having a more 2D look unlike Giotto whose work achieves a stronger 3D effect. This comparison is relevant to the realism debate because Giotto has been considered as the first great artist of the Italian Renaissance, which was a turning point in art history and the incorporation of realistic techniques. The article then goes on to say that A Renaissance painting and a computer image employ the same technique (a set of consistent depth cues) to create an illusion of space, existent or imaginary. However the difference between the mediums is that a viewer can now experience moving around a simulated three-dimensional space, which isnt possible with a painting. To then approach the problems of realism in three-dimensional computer animation Lev starts by looking at the arguments that have advanced in film theory in regards to cinematic realism. This is a good avenue to look down because a lot of computer animation is being incorporated into live-action films these days so a better understanding of cinema realism will further enhance the importance of reality effects in computer animation. However I think the incorporation of the Italian painters as a comparison to computer generated imagery is a bit dated and it would be beneficial if more modern examples were shown as computer animation is seen as a modern art form and it has only really been around since the 1950s. Technology has played a big part in making computer graphics look realistic and Lev had covered this topic in some detail. The term mimesis has been brought up in this section because the modern technology of cinema has been seen in Andrà © Basins eyes as being a realisation of this ancient myth. Mimesis is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings which include imitation, representation, mimicry, similarity and the art of resembling. Therefore mimesis can be related back to reality because the term explains certain factors that affect a realistic outcome such as the art of resembling. For example resemblance can also mean similarity, which is what commercial computer animation tries to recreate, taking a look at real life and recreating it in a virtual world. Manovich states each new technological development (e.g. sound, panchromatic stock, colour) points to the viewers just how un-realistic the previous image was and reminds them that the present ima ge, even though more realistic, will be superseded in the future- thus constantly sustaining the state of disavowal. So by something that is believed to be realistic at a certain period in time will soon become out-dated because technology is rapidly evolving, therefore the notion of never being able to recreate reality in regards to computer animation is an interesting concept and ideology. In terms of animation software Lev then goes on to say. New algorithms to produce new effects are constantly being developed. To stay competitive, a company has to quickly incorporate the new software into their offerings. The animations are designed to show off the latest algorithm. This statement backs up the technological advances in realistic looking computer graphics and can also explain how computer imagery is becoming ever more impressive and pioneering than the previous production. There are different levels of realism for example in animation practice the art of walk cycles display a realistic quality but they will never capture the true essence of the human form compared to live action. Whether a 3D character is walking, running or jumping, it is difficult to recreate a realistic sense of movement when working frame-by-frame. Footage created with frame-by-frame photography in 3D animation lacks the motion blur that occurs naturally when a figure moves in real time before a live action camera. So certain techniques that can be achieved using a computer that can control the motion and add a blur effect to create a realistic sense of movement. Rotoscoping is a technique that allows animators to trace over live action film one frame at a time therefore creating flawless movements and realism to any character or object. However this process is in a way cheating because no one is animating the movements but instead just tracing over and copying the movements that are already there, therefore loosing the skill and style of an animator. Human movements can also be captured by using a technique called motion capture. This technique uses sensors to record the movement of an object in live action, motion capture is a computer driven animation system which allows a director to rehearse and direct the movements of a three-dimensional character. Almost all 3D animation is shot horizontally on a set of some kind just like live action film whereas 2D is generally recorded from a camera placed overhead (vertically). The use of sets for 3D animation makes it possible to get a number of angles whilst filming the action, this way of filming can create a sense of realism to the audience. For example the use of these cinematic angles that are also used in live action film could make the audience believe that they ar e watching something real because the same shots are used in films when capturing real life actors. Jan Svankmajers Alice shot his live action/animation film at full scale placing his live actress and animated characters within what appears to be real rooms, or outside on a rocky terrain. The way in which this film was shot makes it realistic because of the mixture of a live action actress and animated real life objects such as the stuffed rabbit toy. Realism in animation can be good because the audience can relate to what they see and can almost gain comfort from what they know; such as the animated film Bolt where the dogs characteristics are so life like and realistic that you could imagine seeing this dog in real life. Final Fantasy the spirits within was a groundbreaking film at the time because of its hyper-realistic look. Roger Ebert was a strong advocate of the film; he gave it 3 ½ stars out of 4, praising it as a technical milestone while conceding that its nuts and bolts story lacked the intelligence and daring of, say, Steven Spielbergs A.I.. He noted that while he did not once feel convinced Aki Ross was an actual human being she was lifelike, stating her creators dare us to admire their craft. Ebert expressed a desire for the film to succeed in hopes of seeing more films made in its image, though he was sceptical of its ability to be accepted in the wider audience. This happened to be the case as the box office figures for Final Fantasy strongly indicate a lack of positive reaction from audiences, a fact further supported by the overwhelmingly poor response from film critics. To summarise, the terms reality and realism play a big part in computer animation because people are endlessly re-duplicating the visible so that the viewer can relate to the imagery and be impressed by what can be achieved using these technologies. Therefore the role of realism will always be apparent and a defining factor in computer animation. With the accessibility of the internet, freelance artists are constantly out-doing each other which is also driving the production of reality effects and advancements in technology. The article as a whole has shown me that reality in computer animation is a competitive business and that the technologies used to create these effects werent originally designed for entertainment purposes. I have found that not every theorist such as David Bordwell and Andrà © Bazin share the same views or opinions so it becomes difficult to get a true definition or the sense of a certain ideology. The possibilities of recreating reality effects in computer animation are endless because using 3D effects in cinema is becoming the norm almost. Moreover the demand for incredible effects and imaginative imagery is becoming more apparent every year because film makers know that this is what the audience wants to see. Also with the abundance of new technology, computerised imagery is becoming easier to create. Chapter 2: Animation and its progression to commercialism In the beginning all animation was experimental. Experimental animation can be seen as one of the realist form of animation because it is not trying to conform to a certain genre or ideology but rather lean towards an experimental, more abstract or random approach to what is being displayed. Film historian William Moritz quotes: No animation film that is not non-objective and/ or non- linear can really qualify as true animation, since the conventional linear representational story has long since been far better done in live-action. Here Moritz defines what may be regarded as a purist view of what properly constitutes as true animation. He is suggesting that the animated form is best shown when the concentration is purely on using, developing and experimenting with the unique vocabulary which is available only in animation. The freedom of animation has allowed certain animators and artists not to find appropriate means by which they express their vision, but to further progress the medium. Moreover the reason to push the boundaries of what an animator is doing makes an experimental piece truly experimental. Abstraction goes hand in hand with experimental animation because something being abstract can exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Animators which pioneered this new animated art form such as Emile Cohl, Stuart Blackton and Windsor McCay used very basic ways of working mainly due to the fact that they didnt know any better or the technology wasnt available to them. Artists such as Jules Engel who began his animation career working on Disneys Fantasia and UPA cartoons refers to experimental animation as fine art animation because he sees his way of working as more of an art form rather than a commercialized commodity. There were animators that wanted commercial success for the fact that they wanted animation to be seen by everyone. Stuart Blacktons trick film, The Haunted Hotel further enhanced the view that the animated short mig ht become more commercially viable. Walt Disney was the man who broke away from experimental animation and brought a new era of animated film into the commercial limelight. Disney was the first to produce an animated feature-length film called Snow White. Critics however dubbed the project Disneys Folly and were certain that the project would destroy the Disney Studio. Walt used the Silly Symphonies as a platform for experiments in realistic human animation, distinctive character animation, special effects, and the use of specialized processes and apparatus such as the multiplane camera. Walts drive to perfect the art of animation was endless. Technicolor was introduced to animation during the production of his Silly Symphonies Cartoon Features. Walt Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, allowing him to make the only colour cartoons. This further held his grip on the animation industry at the time. Disney played an active role in behind the scenes in World War II. He was asked to create training and ins tructional films for the military, home-front morale-boosting shorts such as Der Fuehrers Face and the feature film Victory Through Air Power in 1943. It is clear that in the post-war period in America, Disney started to integrate himself into the world of politics. Disney was the founding member of the anti-communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. However Disney was not an aggressive person and kept very reserved    in 1947, during the early years of the Cold War. Disney testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), where he branded Herbert Sorrell, David Hilberman and William Pomerance, former animators and labor union organizers, as Communist agitators. This was the start of Disney becoming a global brand and ultimately being boosted into the commercial spotlight. The development of Disney Land and Disney World soon rocketed Disneys success; these amusement parks especially in their early stages were Disneys personal proje cts. A pitch kit which was prepared for visitors to read when they enter through an entrance describes Disneyland in detail. The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge. It will be a place for parents and children to share pleasant times in one anothers company, a place for teacher and pupils to discover greater ways of nostalgia of days gone by, and the younger generation can savor the challenge of the future. Here will be the wonders of nature and man for all to see and understand. This description of Disneyland also applies to everything that Disney represents and this is how his animation has skyrocketed into the mainstream by the fact that it is so universally appealing to all races and cultures. Pixar is an animation company that focuses on using computer generated imagery in their films. Pixar has gone from strength to strength because of their use of likable characters, engaging stories and visual aesthetics. You could compare Pixars recent success with how Disney first started. In the early 90s computer graphics, especially in commercial work was primarily used to create effects such as flying logos and morphing. Pixar settled into a niche by using computer animation to create character animation which very few studios at the time were doing. Most of the animators who started in Pixar used to work at Disney and in the spring of 1991, Pixar and Disney signed a co-production agreement for three pictures. So going back full circle, Disney was still at the forefront of the next revolution in animation. Toy Story was the first Disney/ Pixar film to be made and was released on November 22nd 1995. It became a phenomenon and ended up as the top grossing film of the year, as well as one of the best reviewed. Toy story was the first feature film to be entirely made using CGI which made people realize that using computers to create animation was a viable way of working. Soon after this revolution in computer animation, we soon start to see popular live action directors such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron using this new medium in their films to create special effects. Working with this technology is cheaper than the old fashioned ways of working such as creating elaborate sets or real life explosions. CGI allows film makers to create the unimaginable and impossible because the only limitations of what can be achieved rests within our own imaginations. Moreover this allows certain films to have that wow factor that cinema audiences crave in a film. As technology has moved on many amateur film makers can also work with CGI because of affordable animation and compositing software, furthermore pushing the boundaries and the potential of what can be achieved with this relatively new medium. Traditional ways of working such as using animation cels and ink in an animated film have been shunned out in favour of CGI graphics. However many daytime cartoons such as Spongebob square pants are still made using these methods. Cartoons in the Golden Age of Hollywood animation were normally created in-house whereas nowadays cel animation is shipped off overseas to places such as Korea because they can be produced more cheaply. This then strips the amount of artistic talent and personalisation of the cartoon because of the mass production side of things. In the 1950s animators such as Tex Avery made cartoons to make people laugh, his mentality towards his cartoons was to think in gags and hold no restrictions to his drawings. Therefore the cartoons became a lot more personal. From watching some of Tex Averys animated cartoons we cant help but notice the amount of limited animation such as the holding of certain frames and gags. However this was a common occurrence from animations i n that time period. Blitz Wolf is an animation based upon Adolf Hitler; it is a brilliant piece of animation as well as a wonderful example of propaganda in wartime. In the short the wolfs car features a logo Der fewer (der better) brilliant in its simplicity. When the wolf steps outside with a leering face he watches the audience and shows a sign saying Go ahead and hiss, who cares a very good representation of Hitlers insolence before the war when he made some despicable acts that he didnt care were going to affect his international reputation. Tex a has a non-realist approach to animation because his cartoons encouraged animators to stretch the boundaries of the medium and do things in a cartoon that would not be possible in the world of live-action film. For example a scene in Dumb Hounded shows the wolf running down a flight of stairs at an impossible speed then enters a car before travelling around the world to get away from Droopy. Also in The Early Bird Dood It there is a sc ene where the chicken is chasing the worm with a wooden bat, soon after the chicken is staring a cat in the face and his wooden bat turns all floppy. A quoted line from Averys cartoons was, In a cartoon you can do anything, and his cartoons repeatedly did just that. In 2009 The Princess and the Frog was released by Disney. This film used traditional 2D hand drawn techniques mixed with digital drawn aspects such as the backgrounds and effects. This film showed that traditional 2D animation can still be achieved and still capture the attention and imagination of a modern audience, the film with its universal rating appealed to all ages. Chapter 3: Is Animation Seen As A Modernist Or Post-Modernist Art Form? Modernism and Post-modernism are two subjects that are constantly being discussed in the art world. For me to answer the title question thoroughly and informatively I must first address the main factors of this chapter, Modernism and Post-modernism. I will be discussing the history of Modernism, how the movement started and how it affected the art world. This will allow me to understand how to tackle the question for this chapter. I will be also be discussing the same points in relation to Post-modernism. After looking into these movements I will conclude my findings and incorporate my own personal opinions and thoughts about what I have found in my research. Looking into the history of animation will also be beneficial because this art form is an integral part of this chapter and dissertation. After gaining a better understanding of these movements I will be able to answer the question is animation is a modernist or post-modernist art form? Modern as a historical art term, refers to a period in history that dates roughly from the 1860s through the 1970s and is used to describe the style and the ideology of art produced during that era. The term Modernism is also used to refer to the art of the modern period and philosophy of Modern Art. The Modernist movement first emerged in 1862 and 1863 when the painting Le dà ©jeuner sur lherbe, which is French for The Lunch On The Grass; was created by Édouard Manet. This particular piece of art sparked controversy even to this day because it displayed nude women around fully clothed men, which was seen as indecent behaviour and a taboo subject in the time it was painted. Manet deliberately chose a large canvas size which were normally reserved for grander subjects therefore he broke the academic traditions of the time. But the question can be posed: Why did Manet paint Le Dà ©jeuner sur lherbe? My answer would be because he was interested in exploring new subject matter, new painting ideologies, and new ways of thinking. Therefore he rebelled against the conventional subject matters that were common in this period of history and adopted the new found modernist approach. The Modernist movement can be seen as a socially progressive trend of thought that encouraged human beings to create improve upon and redefine their environment with the help of experimentation, technology and an open mind with no boundaries. Avant-garde was the term given rather than Modernism at first, this term remained to describe the movements that identify themselves as attempting to overthrow or reinvent some aspect of tradition. The English dictionary refers the term Avant-garde as writers, artists, filmmakers, or musicians whose work is innovative, experimental, or unconventional and is considered as a group. I have included this dictionary reference to see if the term is described in the same way as the art world interprets it, because in some instances the true meaning and no tion of the word can be misrepresented. By 1930, Modernism had entered popular culture which sparked an influx in artistic movements. Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Dadaism and Pop art are a few movements that appeared throughout the 20th century. As Modernism started to flourish through the consumer/capitalist societies it soon entered mainstream popular culture which was the main factor the movement rejected in the first place. Therefore the movement had become so institutionalised that it was seen as post avant-garde and soon adopted the term Post-Modern. However for others such as art critic Robert Hughes they refer to post-modernism as being an extension of modernism. The postmodernist movement began in America around the 1960s-1970s and then it spread to Europe and the rest of the world, this movement is still present today. Post-modernism is used in a confusing variety of ways. For some it means anti-modern; for others it means the revision of modernist ideologies. The term Post signifies a historical sequencing in which a previous state of affairs is outdated, therefore functioning in the first instance as a period defining term. Postmodernism in its simple form means after the modernist movement while the term modern refers to something related with the present. What people first thought was modern and modernistic, others were dissatisfied with what they saw because of the way Modernism has evolved therefore leading to a Postmodernist movement. Post-modernism was primarily a reaction to Modernism because the Modernist movement was seen as fraudulent and contradicting. This movement began with architecture, as a reactionary movement against the so-called blandness and conventionalisation present in the modernist movement. Architects werent interested in creating perfect buildings that conformed to certain social rules. Instead architects such as Michael Graves took it upon themselves to favour personal preferences over popular culture therefore creating a post modernist structure. Postmodernists felt the buildings failed to meet the human need for comfort both for body and for the eye. Modernism did not account for the desire for beauty. The post-modern philosophy is distinguished by factors such as criticism, scepticism and subjectivity. In my opinion from looking at my research I would class post-modernism as having the same ideologies as the modernist movement as in wanting to break away from the conventional and mainstream. Moreover post-modernism was breaking away from the now mainstream movement Modernism therefore creating a new movement altogether, Post-modernism. Animation has been around since the turn of the 20th century when filmmakers such as J. Stuart Blackton made the first animated film called Humorous phases of funny faces. Blackton drew comical faces on a blackboard and filmed them. He would stop the film, erase one face to draw another, and then film the newly drawn face. The stop-motion provided an animated effect as the facial expressions changed before the viewers eyes. Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is regularly cited as the first true animated film, and Blackton is considered the first true animator. Animation is different from live action film in the sense that there are limitless amounts of possibilities that can be achieved because the only real boundary is the artists imagination rather than physical restraints. In the early 1900s animation was dominated by Disney productions such as Snow White, which marked the golden age of Hollywood animation. Through the 1950s animation became a lot more stylised and broke away from the mainstream Disney style. The animations in this period incorporated modern art aesthetics such as in the backgrounds and general stylisation of characters. As technology evolved the use of computers started to play a part in animation. For example artists were now able to reproduce shapes, characters and scenery digitally without the need for pencils and paper, therefore allowing the animator to watch their progression in real time instead of having to film each frame. After researching it could be said that early animation such as traditional hand drawn and stop motion are a modernist art form and that the incorporation of computers and 3D animation nowadays can be seen as being post-modern because it has broken away from the traditional ways of working. So is animation a modern or post-modern art form? From my research into both movements I can positively say that animation is a post-modernist art form. I have come to this conclusion based on the fact that cinema is a modernist art form and animation was developed as a new form of expression and creative output that broke away from the mainstream which was cinema at the time. By writing this chapter it has given me a better understanding of what art movements occurred during certain periods and the impact they created in society. My next question would be what movement is going to emerge next after post-modernism and what kind of creativity and ways of thinking are go

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