The Animation Pimp: Chillax

The Pimp says change is unavoidable, and for that matter, it can be a good thing! What's more, he tells the animation community to look forward to good computer animation.

Insignificant and occasionally interesting contributions to the cognition of reality

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris J. Robinson.

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris J. Robinson.

To sit around a bottle of rancid grape juice, speaking of delicate hints of black currant, oaken smoke, truffle or whatever other dainty nonsense with which nature is fancied to have enlaced its taste, is to be a cafone of the first order. For if there is the delicate hint of anything to be sensed in wine, it is likely that of pesticide and manure. How could so sophisticated a nose fail to detect the cow shit with which this most celebrated estate in Bordeaux fertilizes its vines? Nick Tosches, The Last Opium Den

Ive been glancing through some of the animation forums, and if theyre any reflection of the animation industry, then Id say a lot of people are freaked out by the nostradamussed words of some noname Disney exec wholl be a fart down memory lane faster than you can pass the beans. Anyway, the Disney guy essentially told a bunch of Disney drones that computer animation was the wave of the future.

Yeah thats it, thats all. But all through the world of animation forums a wonderful social tool where people gather under false names to connect and communicate with other people who also use false names there was horror, panic and anger. Youd think thered be bigger worries you know endangered animals, rainforests, orphaned war children, who will win American Idol, how that Jenna chick won Survivor. (Did they fix it because her mom's brain cancer?) I say, calm down people. Overreactions on all sides. First off, ummits a business. You can call it art as much as you like, but youd be wrong. Profit comes before art. It always has. Computer animation is cheaper. Less time, less people, less money. Naturally this Stainton guy is a bottom-liner. On an ethical level, hes probably a twit, but in this context hes making an astute and very logical BUSINESS decision. And why is anyone surprised? Are you gonna tell me that you didnt see it coming? Well gee kids get ready cause this is just the beginning of the end of what you think animation entails.

Animation as we know it will be dead by the end of the century anyway, absorbed by live-action features. Its already happening. Twister, Spider-Man, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, The Matrix, and X-Men are all animation films. With mainstream animation dangerously obsessed with some slanted take on photorealism/naturalism, would it be all that surprising to see animation and live-action fused together? Actors will go after that, replaced by 3D characters and maybe down the road even 3D created voices. This is just the beginning folks.

Its nothing new though. Im not a cheerleader of the history-as-progress line nor do I think that every technology that comes along necessarily improves our lives. But hey thats the way some of us wish to approach the world. Its a philosophy thats not limited to animation, its always been connected with art, and almost always motivated by money. Writing has gone from stone, bone, ivory and metal to Indian ink, quill pens (they lasted the longest of any writing instrument so far), fountain pens and ballpoint pens. Along the way, the typewriter arrived around 1866 followed by the word processor (good ol wordstar) in the late 1970s. The tools have changed, but youd be hard pressed to tell me that the changes in technology have led to a decrease in the quality of literature (its just led to MORE bad writing perhaps).

My eyes roll when I hear, for example, a writer talking about how he misses those days of purity and wonder when he had his old Olympia typewriter. There was nothing sweeter than hearing his fingers tap a little Gene Krupa on the keys. One of the funnier examples is Marv Newland. I love Marv. Hes funny, smart and GENUINE but hes got this thing about not having e-mail YET he does type (on a typewriter?) on a paper and fax it to me. It always makes me laugh. He won't use the damn computer, but hell use a fax machine!? The typewriter and fax, once feared modern tools, are, like the record player (or is that gramophone?), rotary phone, and Atari, now just precious relics from a time gone by.

Its the same with cinema. Oh la la le cinema it is magique, manifique, cest si bon. First there was apprehension about the technology itself, then there was all this fuss about sound, then color, then video, now digital. Oh the HORROR we will lose that special ummwhats the word? oh yeah NOTHING.

So do you really believe that animation will be any worse for wear if it dropped drawn animation altogether? Yeah sure to a degree we can haggle about the senses, the lack of touch, rhythm working with a computer but even then youll create a new rhythm. I dont have a problem finding a rhythm when Im pounding on a laptop. But lets be real here kids yes Bambi, Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio were real pretty filmsand so were Iron Giant and Osmosis Jones, but we were also forced to endure Black Cauldron, Fox and the Hound, Spirit and Don Bluth. Meanwhile, I think PDI and Pixar, among others, have done a pretty decent job. Toy Story 2, Shrek, Monsters, Inc., Antz and Finding Nemo arent the cream but theyre as entertaining and visually interesting as any of those drawn classics. All of the aforementioned films were made to entertain and, for the most part, they do their job. Yes something will change but thats all itll just be different, not any better or any worse (and remember this is coming from a guy who generally loathes computer animation).

So hey kid, relax, I ain't worried. In fact, Im pretty confident that computer animation will be able to maintain the same level of character, story and music quality that weve come to expect from feature and television animation.

Chris J. Robinson is but a man. His hobbies include squirrel taunting, goat thumping, meat dancing and elderly peeping. You can find the results at http://asifa.net/robinson

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