Friday, 16 October 2009

Orb by Joe Takayama

Using computers to help create animation won't necessarily enhance your storytelling or characters (John Lasseter was once asked "But what software did you use to make it funny?"). Digital animation does however allow film makers to create works that specifically make use of computers to achieve visuals that would not be feasible for a cel or stop motion animation - Orb is a great example of this. In Joe Takayama's award-winning film, decorative glass spheres dance across the screen and merge with each other, resulting in complex refraction and interesting visual effects.

The complex gilded patterns on the spheres were created procedurally using "metaballs" - 3D particles that generate a curved surface enveloping them when they come within a certain proximity of each other. Metaballs are traditionally used for effects like water and fire, but here we see what happens when a 3D animator uses a common tool in an inventive, original way. It's well worth watching.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

MILK by Bastien Roger

As more and more big budget 3D animated films are released we're getting used to seeing extremely detailed smooth animation, and this is also becoming true of stop motion if The Corpse Bride is anything to go by. MILK is a refreshing (hur hur) piece of animation by the French animator Bastien Roger. Made last year, it was featured in this year's Bitfilm Festival. He uses pixillation, a technique in which the animator removes frames from live action footage to give a similar result to stop motion.

In MILK an orange-painted man abandons his daily routine to drift aimlessly through an indifferent world made up of chaotic ripped up adverts. It's only when he takes drastic action to change his environment that he manages to escape. The film has a really interesting visual style to it, and the animation of the protagonist is awkward and jerky which somehow makes him seem ill at ease with his surroundings. The soundtrack by Pictureshop is also worth mentioning as it really helps the mood. Personally MILK reminded me of playing old PC adventure games from the 90s that used green-screened actors against mostly static backgrounds, which (perhaps unintentionally) helped me empathise with the main character. The film was voted 11th out of 18 in the FX Mix (mixed techniques) category.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Animation Digger! Yeah!

Hi, I'm Tom and this is a brand new blog in which I'll be mining the web for you, finding examples of animated storytelling (traditional/cel animation, 3D and stop-motion). I'll then come back here and let you know about them, and I'll even provide an embedded video or link where possible. You can watch the ones that catch your eye then post your comments below. If you're an animator of any kind and want your work featured on here just let me know, or if you find some kind of awesome piece of animation you want to tell people about you can do so here.

So without further ado,

When the Day Breaks is a 2D Canadian animation from 1999, directed by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby. Set in a city of anthropomorphic animals, it has a nice loose style that really draws the viewer in from the start. The human characteristics of the animals are applied to good effect - have a look at the two rat-like gangsters smoking in the street at 02:35. The film explores the way us urban folk live in such close proximity but still manage to exist in our own little worlds. We're linked only by the electrical wires that run between our homes until twists of fate cause these worlds to collide, as Ruby the Pig discovers.

So yeah - this is definitely worth watching. The soundtrack works alongside the animation too, helped by the interesting voice of Martha Wainwright. Let me know what you think and I'll be back soon with a mine cart full of animation goodness!