Author Topic: Animation Education  (Read 7660 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Animation Education
« on: July 18, 2016, 12:59:13 PM »
I'm going to do my typical thing of starting way too many projects at once. This project I envision is a much more long-term project with more depth to it than most of my stuff. I've got a good idea for a starting-point and once you see what I hope will be the final analysis, it'll make some more sense. I'm still researching the scope of this, so if there's something you think I should add, let me know and I'll consider it.

Ralph Bakshi
Sylvain Chomet
Mamoru Hosoda
Satoshi Kon
Rene Laloux
Pre-Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki
Tomm Moore
Martin Rosen
Makoto Shinkai
Matt Stone & Trey Parker

Silly Symphonies (1923-39)
Golden Age
Dark Age
Second Dark Age
Computer Animated

Fleischer Studios
Studio Ghibli
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 02:08:33 PM by Sam the Cinema Snob »


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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2016, 01:41:16 PM »
I assembled this list at one point, based on a similar idea. Some of the titles may help:

Blue Sky Studios                  
Ice Age   
Ice Age: The Meltdown      
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!   
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs   
Ice Age: Continental Drift         
Rio 2      
The Peanuts Movie      
Ice Age: Collision Course
DreamWorks Animation               
The Prince of Egypt      
The Road to El Dorado      
Chicken Run      
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron      
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas      
Shrek 2      
Shark Tale   
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit   
Over the Hedge      
Flushed Away   
Shrek the Third   
Bee Movie         
Kung Fu Panda   
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa      
Monsters vs. Aliens   
How to Train Your Dragon      
Shrek Forever After   
Kung Fu Panda 2   
Puss in Boots   
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted      
Rise of the Guardians      
The Croods   
Mr. Peadbody and Sherman   
How to Train Your Dragon 2   
Penguins of Madagascar   
Kung Fu Panda 3      

Pixar Animation Studios               
Toy Story   
A Bug's Life   
Toy Story 2      
Monsters, Inc.      
Finding Nemo   
The Incredibles      
Toy Story 3   
Cars 2   
Monsters University   
Inside Out      
The Good Dinosaur   
Finding Dory   
Cars 3
Toy Story 4         
The Incredibles 2
The Boxtrolls   
Kubo and the Two Strings
Illumination Entertainment                  
Despicable Me      
The Lorax      
Despicable Me 2      
The Secret Life of Pets      
The Adventures of Prince Achmed   
The Story of the Fox   
Gulliver's Travels      
Mr. Bug Goes to Town   
The Emperor's Nightingale      
Animal Farm      
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne      
Gay Purr-ee      
Mad Monster Party?   
Asterix and Cleopatra      
The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun      
Yellow Submarine   
A Boy Named Charlie Brown   
One Thousand and One Nights      
The Phantom Tollbooth      
Fritz the Cat   
Snoopy Come Home      
The Fantastic Planet   
Charlotte's Web      
The Hunchbacked Horse      
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix      
Allegro non troppo      
Watership Down      
The Lord of the Rings   
The Bugs Bunny/Road-Runner Movie      
Nazha Conquers the Dragon King      
The King and the Mockingbird      
Son of the White Mare      
Heavy Metal      
American Pop      
The Secret of NIMH   
The Last Unicorn      
The Plague Dogs   
Rock & Rule      
Fire and Ice      
The Adventures of Mark Twain   
Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Express   
An American Tail   
When the Wind Blows      
The Transformers: The Movie      
The Brave Little Toaster      
The Land Before Time   
All Dogs Go to Heaven      
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West   
Bebe's Kids   
FernGully: The Last Rainforest   
The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb      
The Thief and the Cobbler      
The Nightmare Before Christmas   
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm      
Jubei Ninpocho: The Wind Ninja Chronicles      
A Troll in Central Park   
The Swan Princess      
Ghost in the Shell      
James and the Giant Peach   
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America   
Perfect Blue   
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion      
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut      
The Iron Giant      
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker   
Titan A.E.   
My Life as McDull   
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius      
Millennium Actress   
Waking Life   
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within   
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie      
The Powerpuff Girls Movie   
Interstalla 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem   
The Triplets of Belleville      
Tokyo Godfathers      
Team America: World Police      
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence   
The Polar Express   
Mind Game   
The Girl Who Lept Through Time      
Azur & Asmar: The Prince's Quest      
A Scanner Darkly      
Happy Feet   
5 Centimeters Per Second   
Idiots and Angels   
Sita Sings the Blues   
Waltz with Bashir      
The Sky Crawlers   
The Secret of Kells      
Fantastic Mr. Fox   
Mary and Max   
A Christmas Carol      
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance      
Summer Wars   
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs      
The Illusionist   
Happy Feet Two   
The Congress   
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2      
Song of the Sea   
The Lego Movie   
April and the Extraordinary World   
The Boy and the Beast   
The Lego Batman Movie            
« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 02:51:22 PM by Corndog »
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2016, 01:44:33 PM »
Ooo, thanks. That does help.


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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2016, 02:15:05 PM »
Corndog listed some of the works by some of these animators:

Bill Plympton
Jan Svankmajer
Jiri Trnka
Jiri Barta
Norman McLaren
Grant Munro
Adam Elliot
Michel Gondry(?)
Jim Henson
John and Faith Hubley
Terry Gilliam

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2016, 03:57:07 PM »
Well, the first one I planed on doing is contingent on me getting a book that doesn't release till September. Time to switch gears.


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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2016, 04:50:38 PM »
I'll add Longway North to the "Miscellaneous" category. And let's add The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, since Corndog has Asterix and Cleopatra in there and those two are always competing for the title of best Asterix animation film.

Also : The Little Prince (Mark Osborne, 2015), is pretty good and mixes Pixar-style 3D with stop-motion rather nicely.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2016, 06:46:38 PM »
I'm really looking forward to The Little Prince. Netflix is releasing it in America in a month or two, I think.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2016, 10:20:35 AM »
Millennium Actress (2001)

Life is a pursuit. To pursue something is to run after it, to take up the chase, to run. Millennium Actress is a race. It’s about the girl who runs.The film’s short runtime is deceptive given the span of time and the flow of ideas that the film pursues. It’s not simply about the girl who runs, but about the journey and pursuit that makes a life full, vibrant, and wondrous.

The film opens with a woman and a man outside a spaceship. The woman says she must go to pursue a man. Right as the action begins, the scene pulls back to show this is a film being watched by Genya (Shozo Izuka). And, at the moment of takeoff as the engines roar, the building shakes from an earthquake. This is the first of many misdirect and tricks that blur the lines between reality and fiction.

The reality is a woman named Chiyoko Fujwara (Miyoko Shoji), a reclusive actress now in the autumn of life. Genya gets the rare opportunity to interview her and as she tells her life story, the film melds into scenes from her life and the films she makes. However, Genya often finds himself in moments of her life along with cameraman Kyoji Ida (Massya Onosaka). They’re initially observers, but Genya turns himself into an active participant.

The key moment in Chiyoko’s life is an early one where she bumps into a man on the run from the authorities. The rest of her life will be a pursuit of this man, a journey that takes her to another country and a life spent running. And the characters of her films often are caught in a similar pursuit, making her performances from the heart.

As this story unfolds, images race by, scenes roll like the train Chiyoko chases after. The frantic style of director Satoshi Kon and editor Satoshi Terauchi causes things to blur together, not in the sense of blurry images, but that scenes often roll and fold into each other in unexpected and interesting ways.

It’s here where the film takes advantage of animation, crafting transitions and cuts that would be difficult, if not impossible, with live-action film. It’s not simply matching the moment, but effortlessly blending images into each other, creating an organic transition that makes it hard to pinpoint where one moment ends and the other begins.

All this makes for a film where reality and fiction blend together. Here, art imitates life and the fictional stories fuel and drive Chiyoko’s pursuit. It’s a validation of the worth of art and how real-world experiences can fuel the performance in art. And where art ends and real-life begins is uncertain and complicated.

This affirms art as something integral to life, as much a part of who someone is as the defining moments experienced in life. Art is part of the race of life and often reflects our deepest longings and captures the pursuit that drives us forward. To live is to pursue. And art is part of the pursuit.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 02:04:25 PM by Sam the Cinema Snob »

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2016, 01:50:54 PM »
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Tokyo Godfathers opens with Christmas mass. The Tokyo congregation is not made up of finely dressed churchgoers, but a ragged group of homeless people. Amidst the throng of people are Hana (Yoshiaki Umegaki) and Gin (Toru Emori). As the two wait in line, Hana bemoans that he’s a woman trapped in a male body and wonders if he might become the virgin Marry and conceive without sex. When he tells the server he’s eating for two, the shock is palpable. The duo returns to Miyuki (Aya Okamoto), a spunky teen with a chip on her shoulder.

Like the Christmas story, the lives of these homeless people are interrupted by an infant. Instead of a manger, it’s a pile of trash where the pair find the infant child. The trio decides to search for the child’s parents. Unbeknownst to them, this begins a journey of forgiveness and redemption that perfectly captures the rich hope of the birth of baby Jesus.

As they search for the parents, the journey forces all three characters to face the sins of their past. This takes the form of the characters’ facing people from their past that they have harmed or wronged. What they learn is that these characters have already forgiven them and they only need to accept that forgiveness and forgive themselves.

Therefore, the lack of forgiveness is not in the individual wronged, but comes from a deeper source. All of the characters are unable to forgive themselves for what they’ve done. They recognize the obscenity of what they’ve committed and it’s ultimately that within themselves that they need to address, not the external affirmation or approval of those they’ve wronged.

But this journey is not just a story of forgiveness, but one of salvation. Throughout the film, the characters encounter circumstances and situations in which they either need to save someone or they are saved by someone else. There’s the fat man stuck under the car, the hitman at the party, and the prostitutes from Hana’s old club. All these encounters recognize the need for a deeper salvation and some force behind it all that is forcing these characters to come face to face with a cosmic fate.

But it’s not always people that provide this salvation. The final act builds to an interesting climax. The resolution is not any of the characters saving the day, but a magnificent deus ex machina that defies reason or logic. It’s an act of God, the divine descending into the affairs of men, that ultimately saves the day.

As a work of animation, Tokyo Godfathers is notable for a few things. The first is its use of expressive faces. While this is the most realistically animated of Satoshi Kon’s films, he often uses performances of faces that simply would not work in live action. These expressions are almost always to enhance the comical elements of the film.

Another easy to overlook feature of the animation is the constant snowing in Tokyo. It rarely snows in Tokyo and when it does it’s only for a few days and there’s not much of it. But in animation, weather is controlled by the whims of the artist, making Tokyo Godfathers into the mythical winter wonderland that is Christmastime.

The final strong element of animation is the character of Hana. His gender duality creates for a fascinating feat of animation. While Hana often gives hand expressions of a woman, his walk is that of a man. When he runs, his hands might be flailing about like a woman in distress, his steps are long, masculine strides. While an actor certainly could have learned to perform this way, animation sells the effect with a lot less effort.

All together, these elements make the film a beautiful portrait of the hope and healing of the Christmas season. As the virgin snow falls down on the dregs of society, hope arrives in the form of a child. Love and forgiveness mingle in a series of orchestrated events that weave all things together. Christmas miracles are real.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 02:02:58 PM by Sam the Cinema Snob »

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Animation Education
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2016, 04:22:53 PM »
Because my opinion of his other two films on rewatches haven't changed, I'll present the old reviews of those films here:

Perfect Blue (1997)

At the intersection of femininity, sexuality and the entertainment industry, Perfect Blue launches a social critique at all three systems which enable misogynistic practice. It engages with these issues in a shockingly frank manner, making it essential to approach the film with a sharp, critical eye and an important understanding of how images, ideas and events are contextualized, contained and controlled in order to produce meaningful critiques.

The film follows the story of Mima (Junko Iwao), lead singer of the Pop band CHAM, which she decides to leave in order to pursue a more prestigious and serious career as an actress. However, giving up her cutesy, schoolgirl image opens her up to be reinvented and ultimately exploited by the industry. As she quickly finds herself unable to control her new life, she’s haunted by the still complicated, but relatively tame, image of her past life.

On a literal level, the film examines the issues of sexual exploitation of women, the fact that it’s near impossible for Mima to get her break without agreeing to give up her image to unsavory and highly sexualized depictions. While it’s rationalized as “artistic” and “serious,” Mima knows these are just lies, masks to publicly cover the shame and degradation that overrides her true feelings for these images.

This levels a critique against the industry system, one in which the only way for Mima to reconstruct herself and be taken seriously as a woman is to craft an explicitly sexual image of herself. This reflect a broader critique of societal views of femininity, one in which a woman can only be empowered through being sexualized.

It’s a critique that begins with her time in CHAM. While her outfit is cute and childish, it also opens her up to being sexualized by the audience, a point made explicit in a POV shot where one of the guards at an event reaches out as if to grasp her with his hands. Therefore, while not coded as strongly exploitative as later images of Mima, it still reflects a societal norm that for a women to publically perform is to open herself up to being objectified and sexualized.

This guard also shows up later in order to emphasize that the sexualization is not simply an issue on the level of explicit content. His almost prepubescent fascination with CHAM is a guise to an envy of anyone else sexualizing and obsessing over this woman. This “safe” sexualization allows for a much more subtle, intrusive and troubling from of image obsession.

Walking a fine line between depicting these misogynistic practices and avoiding being implicated in them, the medium of animation allows Perfect Blue to stylize the film and push the content in such a way to do justice to some grizzly and revolting subjects while gaining some much needed distance and dissonance from the overwhelming nature of the images.

The images are so explicit, that if shot with a real actress, it’s likely the film would have been surrounded with so much controversy and censorship pressures that it wouldn’t have gotten a theatrical release. If these images are so explicit, one might ask what the point of them is. On basic level, the visceral effect is important to both the emotional and psychological effect that the film is trying to achieve.

Also, the images are explicitly contextualized and presented in such a way to make their intent clear. Dissonant music, a particular framing of certain imagery as well as the narrative or psychological frame in which the scenes are contextualize code all these images as negative and exploitative.

Perfect Blue is a complicated, mature look at a charged subject. While it makes some explicit points, it does it through highly-charged and complicated imagery, presenting with frankness the objects of its critique. And like a truly rich and deep film, this is only one facet of the complicated and compelling elements that make Perfect Blue a powerful and effective film.

Paprika (2006)

Let’s get one thing straight, Inception didn’t rip off, pay homage to or draw from Paprika. Yes, they share the same high-concept of people interacting with each other in collective dreams, but there are two distinctly different and diametric approaches and understandings of how dream spaces work that make them two unique films. That being said, there are enough similarities to make the two serve as interesting companion pieces.

When the dream machine of a group of scientists is stolen, they find their device intended for psychotherapy has now been turned into a weapon that begins flooding the minds of those connected to the network to a particularly absurd and freaky dream by one of the patience they treated of a parade of bizarre creatures and objects. Chiba Atsuko (Megumi Hayashibara) attempts to hunt down the mind terrorist while her dream persona while her dream ego Paprika becomes involved in the life of Detective Kogawa Toshimi (Akio Ohtsuka).

From the onset, Paprika uses dream space as a way to throw space, logic and science to the wind. Static images turn into objects that can be accessed in dream spaces, or windows that allow one to traverse through dream space quickly. And the parade becomes a form of surreal horror, filled with all manner of the absurd and fantastical. It’s a film with little creative constraint.

And I simultaneously admire and admonish the film for that. The results lead to all number of visually enticing sequences that demonstrate the psychological power film has at twisting our mind’s ability to make associations and connections, but it also leads to an anything goes attitude. In contrast to Inception where there’s a set of rules that correlate to dream space, Paprika lacks the structure of rules that allow there to be constraints which lead to compelling narrative conflicts.

It’s hard to have stakes when Paprika seems to be able to conjure up any number of solutions to a particular problem. If she can get just about any place through a few jumps through televisions and billboards and take an image of any item and turn it into something she can use, there’s no compelling limitations and control that allow the film to build meaningful structures of power which result in conflict.

The film tries to address this problem with Chiba being much feebler and out of control of the world in real life, and her detective work in trying to discover who stole the device is the most compelling part of the film, but by the end of the film she’s swept away as the character who must make the emotional growth while her dream ego Paprika gets to be conduit through which the film resolves the narrative conflict.

A more interesting exploration of dream space is Kongawa’s story. He’s a patient being treated by Paparika through his dreams and these dreams are a compelling exploration of the similarities between film and dreams. Roman Holiday, Tarzan and other films slip into Kongawa’s story as he tries to deal with his own personal inadequacies and deepest fears that  manifest themselves in his dream space.

In segments like this, Paparika is a fascinating exploration of dream space as both filmic and psychological. In this regard, it shares thematic similarities to Inception. But the film’s broader story and more cinematic spectacles demonstrate a lack of restraint that is simultaneously compelling and frustrating. As I’ve become disillusioned with Inception’s stifling control and constraint, Paprika is reminds me that the other extreme leads to bloated creativity, which, in turn, leads a film to implode in upon itself.