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Review: ANIMASOPHY - Theoretical Writings On The Animated Film

Estonian animation director and educator Ulo Pikkov has accomplished a remarkable feat in producing a most readable book on animation theory. For those who do not know about the technical side of animation Animasophy – Theoretical Writings On The Animated Film is a great place to start. Readers who are already well versed in animation techniques will be reminded about what they already know but don’t always think about.

By Nancy Phelps

Estonian animation director and educator Ulo Pikkov has accomplished a remarkable feat in producing a most readable book on animation theory.  For those who do not know about the technical side of animation Animasophy – Theoretical Writings On The Animated Film is a great place to start.  Readers who are already well versed in animation techniques will be reminded about what they already know but don’t always think about.

The first three chapters define animation, outline its history from its beginnings to the present, and analyze the role animation continues to play in modern communication.  The next eight chapters go on to analyze structure, timing, storytelling, sound, characters, and realism as well as the use of space.  Each chapter includes a detailed case study of a specific film by an Estonian animator to illustrate the chapter’s topic.

A discussion of Olga and Priit Parn’s award winning Divers in the Rain illustrates perfectly the concept of the use of space in animation.  Space and spatiality play an important role in this hand drawn film, giving us additional non-spoken information about the characters personalities and emotional states.

Mart Kivi’s 2007 Laika  is an excellent example of a film with a main character that exists beyond the limits of the screen.  Laika is never seen but is constantly present.  All of the action is viewed through the eyes of Laika, the dog who was the first living body to orbit the Earth when the USSR sent her into space in 1957.  The subjective camera of Laika’s eyes suggests the dog’s limited movements.  The action is accompanied by the hound’s huffing and puffing sounds.  As Ulo points out, Laika is still out there orbiting the earth even though her eyes were shut long ago.

Animasophy is full of photos, drawings, and film stills.  A special bonus is a DVD of the eight works that are discussed in detail so that you can follow Pikkov’s train of thought visually as well as in his words.

Along with creating his own films, Ulo has taught at the respected Estonian Academy of Arts since 2006, and the basis of this book was formed in the course of teaching.  The word animasophy was coined by his students from two words, the Latin Anima meaning soul or breath of life and Greek Sophia which means wisdom.

Animasophy –Theoretical writings On The Animated Film should have a place in every animator’s library as well as in the classroom and library of all animation schools.  The DVD is a priceless addition to everyone’s video library.

The book can be ordered at:

http://www.Kriso.ee/Animasophy-theoretical-writings-animated-film/db/9789949467068i.html

The price of the book and DVD is 21,92 Euros.

Nancy Phelps has produced music for animation for the past 16years. She has written about animation and animation festivals for suchpublications as Animatoons, Film/Tape World, Reel World and the ASIFA/San Francisco news magazine and is a member of the ASIFA International Board. In 2006, Nancy and her composer/musician husband Nik Phelps moved from San Francisco to Gent, Belgium, where they now have their home. Read more from Nancy at http://sprockets.animationblogspot.com.

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