When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up… well first it was Paleontologist, but after recruiting a team to excavate my elementary school’s baseball yard (with toothbrushes, because that’s what they do in the movies) only to find that our “dinosaur” was actually poorly poured cement, I decided to move on to studying living creatures. So then it was Ornithology, which I still love, but I realized later that it wasn’t all like “My Side of the Mountain” and it actually involved a lot of boring technical sciency stuff.
By middle school I realized that what I really loved was art and animation and I decided that when I grew up I was going to become an animator for Disney. While my love for Disney as a company has changed quite a bit, my love of animation isn’t going anywhere. There’s something really beautiful about the way that traditional drawings are brought to life by movement, and I love that while mainstream has been pushing the hyper-realism of CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) animation so much in recent years, traditional animation has not been forgotten. In fact, many artists are beginning to realize that while CG may be new and interesting (and fast and cheap), it lacks the human touch that brings static lines to life.
I think Marjane Satrapi, the creator of Persepolis, says it best in this Making of Persepolis video, “That was a conscious choice, to do the animation on paper, to do it by hand. Obviously it takes longer, but work done on a machine dates very quickly. It might look great today, but in five years it’s old hat. Furthermore, a machine produces a perfect image, but as human beings are imperfect, it’s not at all human. There’s something not quite right about that coldness, that perfection, which isn’t like us. There’s a vibration in the human hand which brings the image to life.”
Persepolis is an incredible comic and movie by the way. Absolutely worth the watch, even if you are not a big fan of animated movies.
Here’s another short clip, this time the Making of Paperman (a soon to be released short from Disney/Pixar). Okay, not everyone will find this as interesting as I did, but it shows the technical creation of the characters in the film using both CG and traditional animation! The results are really beautiful and should be very exciting for
traditional animation buffs nerds like me =)
Okay, so obviously I am not working for Disney, or an animator, or even a mostly traditional artist! But that’s okay. While that may not have been my path, the work of others that are in that field still inspires me everyday.