ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.1 - April 1999

Taking On Our TV Reviews
I have read Amid Amidi's review "The PJs: Black and Beautiful" (Amidi, 3.11) and I would like to make a few comments on it. Even though I respect Amidi's positive review of The PJs, I disagree with him.

In his review, he states the following:
"What this animated show accomplishes is something that most others can't -- creating strong and relatable characters with true personalities. There's great interplay between the residents and one can feel the relationships between the characters evolve, making them feel more alive than typical TV cartoon fare."

Personally, I don't see The PJs as a show that stands out from other Black comedies or other animated cartoons. The characters themselves seem to be placed into stereotypical roles like a drug-user, gangster, voodoo witch doctor, etc. Overall, I don't see The PJs as a show providing refreshing new material.

In Amid Amidi's next statement:
"In the hands of less-adept storytellers, the characters on this show could have merely been stereotypical figures played for cheap laughs, but The PJs clearly transcends that line and strives for greater significance."

Actually, I find the stereotypes in The PJs to be nasty and degrading. I bet that low-income earning Blacks think so too. Even film director Spike Lee stated that the show is "hateful towards black people and very demeaning." I can't believe that Amidi seems to have skimmed over the nasty stereotypes in the show. Maybe Amidi finds the stereotypes amusing, but other people don't.

To sum it up, I think Amid Amidi has skipped over the negative aspects of the show and has showed only the positive ones. This, of course, makes the review one sided.

Name Withheld by Request

Amid's reply: Just because a character is a drug-user or a voodoo witch doctor doesn't immediately place them in a stereotypical role. The figures from another popular cartoon show,
The Simpsons, are also derived from common character-types (the doltish father, the bratty kid, etc.) but they go beyond these simple stereotypical definitions. On both of these shows, the characters are well-developed with various shades to their personalities, and simply saying they're a stereotypical character based on their occupation (drug-user, voodoo witch) isn't a fair assessment. As to it being nasty and derogatory, the show has tested very well with low-income earning Blacks in the projects, and numerous black people in the entertainment industry, like comedian Steve Harvey, have spoken out in support of the show. And finally, a review is done by one person, not a committee, so reviews are one-sided by nature.


Duh! Ed, Edd n Eddy Rules!
I read "Ed, Edd n Eddy: Caught in a Circle" (Briggs, 3.11) and I have to disagree with Mr. Briggs. I think Ed, Edd n Eddy is hilarious. It reminds me of some of the things my friends and I used to do and the trouble we used to get into. A time when jawbreakers, spitwads and having fun were the most important things in life. I think every guy can relate to that.

Perhaps the plots aren't quite as dynamic as other shows, but it's not supposed to have a complex storyline, it's based on juvenile antics. I can watch Men In Black, Batman Beyond, or even anime like Akira and Ninja Scroll, and be dazzled by artwork, music and plot-twists...but I can watch Ed, Edd n Eddy and remember the last time I hit someone with a water balloon or gave my friend a wedgie.

Thanks for your time,
Patrick Allen


Attention Guerrilla Animators!
I have never written a response to an article, but "Boldly Throwing Down the Gauntlet" (Purves, 2.11) has hit home. I am an independent animator that started with stop motion and has gone on to CGI, and generally do industrial/educational videos.

Disenchanted with the type of chrome logos I was constantly being asked to create, I headed back to University to further my higher education and skills. I was appalled at the type of student and learning that was being produced at the film/broadcast/animation departments. Mr. Purves has hit the nail on the head -- no one is teaching the basics. They are just teaching the manuals to the equipment. I finally elected to proceed not as a film major, but as a theater major. There was more attention paid to the story and acting there than the film department had ever thought of.

I wonder how many disgruntled animators are out there feeling the same way? I further wonder, if in this age of e-mail and networking if there wouldn't be some way to get them all together in a virtual animation studio and produce the exact type of film that Mr. Purves and I wish to see. Given the amazing abilities of even the most inexpensive CG animation packages now, I would think that a band of networked guerrilla animators might just pull such a film off.

Paul Huenemann
Right Purdy Pictures
huenemann.paul@mcleodusa.net


Tamper-Free Cartoon Restoration
My name is Ryan Thompson and I am an independent animation producer for ZEN Entertainment, Inc. of Santa Monica, California. Your recent article "Digital Noise Reduction: Where'd That Cartoon Go?" (Amidi, 3.12) on digital noise reducers and their adverse effect upon animation was quite a surprise to read considering we developed a seamless restoration method for classic animation over three years ago. Unfortunately, our clients could not realize the benefit of fully-restored material at that time. I always knew the market would eventually come around and AWN seems to be at the forefront of such a publicity effort.

In early 1996, MCA Television Japan contacted us with a formal request to research and price out restoration technologies for the Walter Lantz "Woody Woodpecker" library. Although I was rather discreet in my efforts to research the market for this technology, we were bombarded with the interests of many post-houses and visual effects companies who realized the potential value of such a contract. Almost every test looked the same and employed some form of noise reducing algorithm, thus producing artifacts upon the original material which in my opinion, were wholly unsuitable for restoring the medium.

Since we were caught between a rock and a hard place, I made one last, ditch effort and teamed up with a foreign defense engineering contractor with a serious interest in producing new entertainment technologies. It turned out that with my prior experience in software manufacturing and their combination of programming expertise but no prior knowledge of media production, we were able to take a fresh look at the problem without resorting to old methods. After a few months of intensive work in both the United States and India, we developed what I believe to be the world's only 100% accurate, film-resolution restoration system for animation libraries.

Essentially, we developed custom software which broke down scene elements and then digitally repainted and composited the material. One episode of Woody Woodpecker was scanned from the original 16mm master reel that was in pitiful condition and reproduced in better than new condition. The best aspect of the whole system from my perspective was that we also developed a proprietary asset management system that tracked all scene elements; this way if MCA had ever moved forward on the project, their animation producers could search a media management system for elements at film-res which could be recomposited into new material and thus significantly lower the costs of producing new and evergreen material. Furthermore, our system is 100% digital at film res and so re-mastering to film is as simple as a record-out; no need to worry about degradation anymore as we put the master into a lossless realm.

The sad news was that MCA did not feel our budget of US $30,000 per episode was worth it. However, I believe that this was only because the technology was a hard to understand paradigm at that time. Your effort to cover this topic is rather valiant and I hope AWN continues to handle this story development. Please feel free to contact me in any event you'd like to see our fully restored master as I'd be happy to show it off. I've never forgotten this project and have even put together a new team to refine the system once demand resurfaced in the market.

Best regards,
Ryan Thompson, Producer
rthompson@zenentertainment.com
1620 26th Street, Suite 250 South
Santa Monica, California 90404
USA

Editor's Note: Indeed Animation World Magazine will be following developments in this field. Our June issue will feature an assessment of Mr. Thompson's technology.


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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