The Art of Animation and Motion Graphics | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios


I think the reason I’m so drawn to animation is that you have complete control and you can do whatever you want. When
creating informative videos you’re slowing the viewer down to understand one thing
at a time. Animation can personify emotions, it can personify thought. It’s the same stuff you see when you go to sleep
at night. Animation says let’s recreate that
experience somehow, let’s pull other people into it. There’s something intrinsically magic about animation. Many artists through the
ages have wanted to bring their art to life. Animation has been around for a long time. I mean, we are finding more and more cave drawings in which animals have multiple limbs; the artist
wanted to get the impression of motion. You come into the nineteenth century with magic
lanterns in which one piece of glass had one picture and then you switch it over and it
changes and becomes something else. But it wasn’t until photography came around, motion pictures that was able to be
used to make a successive series of still drawings look like they were alive. There’s a whole series of techniques that
can be used now. One of the great traditional ones was hand-drawn
animation. There’s also puppet animation. There’s clay animation which is a form of puppet
animation. Today there’s computer animation. CGI. Some of the major players happened really early on. One of them was a man named Emile Cole. He introduced the idea of surrealism and
the use of abstraction in animation. Winsor McCay started to make his
animated films about three years later in nineteen eleven. He had an
incredible ability to create a real life character out of impossible
things like a mosquito or a dinosaur. In coming forward to the Disney animation
studio in the nineteen thirties where they codified and they tested out these principles. One
of them was something called stretch and squash. Those are principles that give
you an elasticity. But then they found there was a principal called
anticipation. There was other things like follow through. If a
person has long hair and they come to a stop, their hair will continue to go. It’s a
secondary action. So all of these little symbols add a
veracity to the animations so that audiences are convinced they’re seeing something that’s really happening and it opened up all sorts of possibilities for the future. Since the beginning of motion pictures
we’ve had informative videos so think about the films that would’ve been played in a science class. One of the classic ones is the power of ten
video. And Disney is another great example of this. You look at the goofy golf video from the
fifties. He’s explaining how the golf swing works using overlaid graphs
and charts and stuff so we thought that we could kind of maybe do it differently or better or
whatever and so our business is getting information out to the public and
educating them. So the first video that we ever did was called the state of the internet it was combining the storytelling nature of the political
cartoons with the information that you get from this info graphic. The last
fifty years animation has been created in a fun way for a very broad audience
and so i think there’s a lot of respect and trust in this medium for
storytelling but you are manipulating how the viewer is processing that and in
general designing presentations one of the things i’m always pushing is make
the big information element as big as possible. Slideshow like videos lends
itself to people taking screenshots sharing them and being able to add their
context to that slice of the story. Times have really changed where now we’re using the internet as a community center for ideas and the role that animation plays is
for the purpose of education. The roots of motion graphics are really the
roots of experimental animation which I don’t know if people understand that that is as old as
the medium of film itself. Both motion graphics and animation they
encourage play and it’s through that process of experimentation that i think a lot of
interesting stuff is made. Every now and then somebody creates something that
really has a viewpoint or that’s trying to do something new usually by accident and
and next thing you know they’re developing a voice of their own. By
taking risks and inviting in mistakes you can invite a whole new way of creating into your process. There’s just
a kind of weird abstract drama playing out on the screen that transcends a lot
of the normal structures of storytelling. I think it goes back to when we used to gaze into the fire. That kind of primal experience of looking at flickering imagery and hearing things that
seemed to match with it. That’s very deeply embedded in this. Motion graphics
basically taps into that and that’s important. You know you don’t always have to have a character or a clear narrative in order to move somebody. Animation is just the medium I use to
express my stories. With live action it’s more of a community and it doesn’t maybe allow for your real thought process to kick in. I much prefer the way pencil looks. You can get
these little accidents into the smudges on the paper and you’re just in your room and you can create these incredible worlds. With Belly, I tried to think about what it was like to be ostracized by an older sister and how you can just feel like so rotten inside, so animation’s a great medium for that cause it’s just you. It’s all coming out of you, and the stuff that comes out are things that would only come out if you’re just suck alone with your brain for a really long time. Have you seen my brother? His name is Alex. Yes, I have seen him. I think if something makes sense to you, even if it’s abstract, it will make sense to the viewer. So yeah, like going inside the belly as this
abstract element for something being in the pit of your stomach just seemed to make sense. Hey buddy. I miss you. Yeah, yeah, right. I know. Come on, Oscar. Our ride’s here. And then when people come up and they’re just like oh yeah i totally got it i feel that way too sometimes and you’re just like really really? It’s a very weird feeling. With animation I like to express myself as sort of externalizing
inner angst and turmoils and things and because it’s in this cute package it’s easier to digest. In animation anything is possible. There really are no limits. The reason that info graphics have become very popular is people are using the internet more and more
to be educated about things. I love the process of drawing and figuring out how you can make it look weird but still realistic. If you think it, you can draw it, you can animate it. You can be an animator.

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