ESSAY: PRIMAL - SOUND OF A STORY
Ugh Uh Ah Rawr!
What do you get when you cross a caveman and a dinosaur? 10 episodes of brutal violence.
When I started Any-mation, originally I had 6 video ideas that were born from different root aspects of animation. Character Design, Background Design, Movement, what it means to tell a story and so on. One area I did want to come back and look at it Sound Design, but I was waiting on the right show. Then Primal came along. Not only was it tremendously captivating and exciting, it added the extra challenge of not having any dialogue.
Using the visuals paired with emoting through sound effects, it was the perfect opportunity to visit a video about sound design and revisit a modern master like Genndy Tartakovsky. What a join it was to make this video essay.
ESSAY: SOUL - THE CAVE YOU FEAR
Just like in Jazz, you don't get to choose the tune, but you take it and make it your own.
When I first saw Soul I knew it was deep, just how deep I hadn't figured out yet. Then I saw Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Boy that blew my socks off. I've never had my head cracked open like that and had so much sense shoved into it, well, not since the time I cracked my head on a roll of cents.
I think what Pete Docter has done here is phenomenal. Not only asking deep existential questions and providing conclusions, but mixing it with a genuine and true love of jazz and black culture. A lot of that is thanks to the collaborators like co director Kemp Powers, as well as musicians like Jon Batiste. Soul may not work for everyone, but it's been the most thought provoking feature I've seen in quite some time.
ESSAY: BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES - SETTING THE TONE
MOODY, BROODING WITH LOTS OF SOOTHING... VOICES
I am vengeance! I am the night! I am a video essay about Batman the Animated Series... sorry.
I loved this series when I was a kid and I love it more rediscovering it in college. I remember in the first year, sitting down with my college buddies and watching some of the classic episodes like Christmas with the Joker. I was always struck by the tone of the series, but could never put my finger on why.
Then I saw the Heart of Batman documentary and understood that the mood of the show was set from the very beginning. I like how that strong vision really set the tone for the shows production, it's actually episodes and the legacy/impact it had on animation going forward. Shows such as Gargoyles may not have existed without this reimagining of Batman.
ESSAY: HAYAO MIYAZAKI - THE MIND OF A MASTER
FIVE LAYERS OF THE MIYAZAKI ONION
Choo choo, all aboard the Miyazaki train!
To be honest, this video was the one I was the most nervous about. So much has been said about Hayao Miyazaki and I felt like people had touched on effectively all the things I love about his work.
Then I realised, I didn't understand much about the man apart from his work. So in reading his biography Starting Point and Turning Point as well as the magnificent study of him, Miyazakiworld, a new picture emerged and I felt like I had something new to say. So I did, and it's in that video. Watch it.
ESSAY: AFTER THE SPIDER-VERSE - WHAT'S NEXT FOR ANIMATION?
I was written by a radioactive pig.
Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse has fundamentally changed the landscape of animation. We may not see the effects straight away, but it's happening baby, you'd better believe it. It proved that the different techniques of different mediums are starting to blur beautifully, and it demonstrates these methods are just tools to help tell a story.
So this video is about looking at the emerging trends in animation, using Into the Spider-verse as a dot in the map to see what's coming up next. Get it while it's hot!
ESSAY: WALT DISNEY'S LEGACY - IS ANIMATION FOR CHILDREN?
COME ON MAN, LISTEN. IT'S A MEDIUM NOT A GENRE!
The happiest place on earth? Then why is there vomit everywhere?
Walt Disney. Ah, Walt. Walty, Walter Walt. What a double edged sword. A blessing and a curse. It's amazing to think that when he passed away in 1966, just how long a go that was and yet everyone in the world knows who he is, pretty much. He accelerated animation to this incredible medium of possibility, gave it the world stage, and then dropped it when he had a falling out with staff. From then on, it remained a safe, non experimental area, in the mainstream or far too long.
Then Animator's and creators managed to claw it back, but with the onslaught of Saturday morning cartoons and then Disney Renaissance, the epitaph was signed on Animation's grave, one that read "It's a kids genre". Yet today we're in a unique position to stand with the rallying cry of all who work in the industry to say, it's not just for kids! Well, how did that idea start. Give the video a look and find out.
ESSAY: ENDING A STORY - LESSONS FROM MONSTER'S INC.
VIDEO ESSAYS, MY TENDER OOZING BLOSSOM, YOU'RE LOOKING FABULOUS!
Knock knock. Who's there? Boo. Boo who? I see those tears.
One thing that's always bugged me about animated films is how they finish or close out a story. Sure we've vanquished our foes and ultimately been victorious. Often then the endings are shown as these giant celebrations to help solidify the catharsis. The world has returned to a happy state, albeit a new one.
Well, I've a problem with some of the endings and I talk about it in this video. I think a great lesson to learn from Pete Docter's films are how he ends them. He understands where the emotional core of a story is, and resolves it there. I like that a lot.
ESSAY: RALPH BAKSHI - ANIMATION'S NEW WAVE
IN OTHER WORDS.
Ralph Bakshi has always been in the back of my head to look at. I knew enough about him to see he had an impact on animation, but I wanted to come at it from a different approach than that he just challenged the idea animation was only for kids. I delved deep into the history of cinema, and every time I got to where Ralph's features were released, it came hand in hand with the rise of Hollywood's New Wave.
So I married the two, and applied the film theory to animation.
This also signifies the last of the original 6 videos I had planned from the inception of Any-mation. Looking at design elements and pulling it slowly into heavier theory and history, I'm proud of what my 6 Key Frames have said. It's nice to have climbed a hill and look back down at where I've come from.
Now I'm eager to climb a mountain.
ESSAY: THE SIMPSONS - THE MANY FACES OF THE COUCH GAG
A Simpson's video essay? that's a paddlin'
My eyes! The googles do nothing! Who couldn't quote The Simpsons all day? I'll tell you who, Gen Z. May god have mercy on us all...
This was a little idea that popped up while I was breaking down my Aardman video. The couch gag has become this universal salute to other creator's in the industry, many animating it themselves. It was originally supposed to be out a month after my Aardman essay, but alas, took 3 months, between other projects I’ve been working on.
What really slowed me down here was actually a short clip, that you might miss, where I outline each and every Simpsons Episode to the date of the video, which are over 640 episodes. I chronologically entered them and had to align them so they all began 1 frame after the other. The 1 minute export and render too 50+ hours to fully render, just on that 1 minute clip. I significantly shortened it in the essay itself.
I’m very happy with how this one flows and I’m looking forward to bringing the lessons I’ve learned into the next video.
ESSAY: AARDMAN ANIMATIONS - STUDIO STYLE & IDENTITY
CRACKING VIDEO LAD!
Fire the long things that go bang! That's right, I've watched more than just Wallace and Gromit from Aardman, there's all the other stuff they do, in the thumbnail.
Originally, this video was supposed to be about Laika Studios. I was always a big fan of their studio aesthetic, but I had noticed a similar aspect with Aardman. The more I dug into Aardman, the more I wanted this video to be about them and this is the result!
I really wanted to capture what makes an Aardman Feature unique and it goes so much deeper than just a unified design. They bring a unique sensibility, with an even more interesting ability to not compromise on their vision. At least, not the heart and charm of it. I expanded my design style in this as well, deeply influenced by Youtubers like The Nerdwriter and kaptainkristian. I've never seen videos move as easily as there's, so I cracked my knuckles and dove into After Effects
ESSAY: WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE - LINING IN ANIMATION
lines, or no lines? perhaps double lines? Has anyone done that?
This is my first Inbetween. These are intended to be shorter videos (didn't work out that way) that I'm popping in-between my key video essays. Throughout researching Tomm Moore, Genndy Tartakovsky and Isao Takahata, they all mentioned the energy of a line or how they used lines in their animation.
It got me thinking of all the other possibilities and methods that are explore through using an outline. We're predisposed with expecting a thin outline, and thats to modern animation, its easy to match between animators. You don't have to be a great draughtsman. But what is you want more? Well have a look and see.
ESSAY: ISAO TAKAHATA - ANIMATING REALITY
WHAT IS REALITY? AM I REAL? UH OH.
Originally this was to be my first video essay, and to be honest with you, I'm glad I didn't start with this one. I wanted to first look at the practical elements of design and timing before I got into heavier theory. The Tartakovsky video really allowed me to branch into theoretical practice and when I came back to this video (I'd already written the script), I completely rewrote it after diving into much deeper research. Books were My best friend here with theory, I can't emphasise that enough.
Every documentary I watched about Takahata always enters on his trial and error process of trying to captured 'reality'. He is scrupulous in his pursuit of detail, but it always comes in a place you don't expect.
ESSAY: GENNDY TARTAKOVSKY - READING THE ACTION
PFFT, HOW CAN YOU READ ACTION? WELL I'LL TELL YOU HOW... DOUBTER.
I had achieved what I wanted to with my first two videos, discussing visual design elements. The next step was to naturally look at movement and I don't think I've seen any director's work more defined by timing that Genndy.
How he and his animators time the action is essential creating a readability and believability, and also he makes it look pretty cool.
How Genndy Tartakovsky directs action is fascinating and in this essay I attempt to dissect the precision of his craft and find out what separates him from other animators.
ESSAY: TOMM MOORE - A DEEPER PERSPECTIVE
THE SECOND M STANDS FOR MANIMATION.
After character design, I wanted to look at where we place characters and the how we design the worlds they inhabit. I have a wonderful fascination with the worlds that people design. Sometimes I would sit for hours, mesmerised by concept art, or even sci-fi art that tells a tale of a brand new world. It forces me to ask questions.
Tomm Moore's work, and the work of Cartoon Saloon, have always stood out to me because of how they subverted perspective in their work (That and they're Irish!). How they translate their intended visual language across their films is unique and refreshing. Their use of perspective and embedding in cultural language is so beautiful.
ESSAY: PETE DOCTER - GEOMETRY OF CHARACTERS
be there and be square.
So it begins, and where would be a better place to start than with what we connect with the most in a story: the characters. We experience the story through their eyes, and its always the first question we ask, who are they?
I always found it so interesting how characters are designed. I love concept design, and especially that of Pete Docter, from Pixar, and that his characters seem to be built from basic geometric shapes. So, in approaching this essay, I looked at character design and discovered shape language; a powerful tool to subconsciously communicate characteristics through basic shapes.