Archive | April, 2012

An Animated CV

The video game company Double Fine owned by Tim Schafer, godfather of old school point and click gaming, have been pushed firmly back into the spotlight recently as their kick-starter project to create a new point and click game received over $3 million in funding from independent donations.

As they embark on this exciting new project, they have become the company everybody wants to work with or for, as their reputation within the industry begins to rival that of Valve or Pixar hen it comes to inspiring creativity through innovation and fun. So with everybody looking for a position, the competition to work with them has become extremely tough. One way that a young developer managed to poke his head above the rest of the applicants was by designing a game in place of sending his CV.

Marius Fietzek designed a game in the classic style of Schafer’s own old point and click games and sent it to the company. Called The Applicant, the game stars Clark the desk clerk at Double Fine, when Marius himself enters and tries to apply for an internship. The dialog options available allow the player to search through all of Marius’ experiences, job history and qualifications as he has a discussion with the sarcastic clerk.

The game seemed to work just as Marius hoped as it landed him the role with the company. Hardly surprising considering the fact that Tim Schafer himself did something very similar back in the 1980s when applying for his job with LucasArts. So a clever combination of nostalgia, evidence of talent and qualifications has won Marius the job. The hiring is a nice move from a company that is already becoming very popular for their alternative slant on the gaming industry, although, it is likely that since this story came to light, the Double Fine offices have been inundated with games from would-be developers hoping to have a similar effect.

If you want to play Marius’ application, you can find it here: The Applicant

Photography and Animation

Another sector of the industry that I am keen to cover is to do with photography and animation. At first glance, these may seem to be entirely separate mediums of art, but in reality, the crossover between photography and animation is remarkable.

There are several reasons for this. Animation and moving images are simplistically just a series of photos that move very quickly; seeing so many images at once gives the viewer the illusion of movement. This means that animation and photography adhere to a lot of the same rules and considerations. For example, both mediums have to consciously think about the framing of the image within the shot, and about the lighting or natural light. In animation, shading, colouring and lighting make up an important stage of the production process as the effect of the light on the animated objects has to look real in order to not bother the audience. This means that those artists need to know a lot about how light falls naturally onto an inanimate object, just like a photographer would.

A technique like stop motion animation uses many of the same elements as photography because it is a seqeuence of real life images; essentially just a number of similar photos that have been put together. However, in the modern world the use of photography in animation is changing at an incredibly rate. For example, high speed internet allows us now to see example of animated photos like these cinemagraphs. These images, known as GIFs because of their file format bridge the gap between film and photograph; as technology and techniques develop and change, it allows new artforms like these to open up.

Professional photographers usually specialise in one specific area of photography such as portraits, or food photography. However there are numerous examples of photographers who make a living by producing a variety of different styles of photographs. Many photographers are involved in architectural photography at a professional level and will be able to produce some profoundly striking images of buildings from the exterior or interior.

Photography as an artform itself is still very much in its infancy in comparison to many other parts of the industry and it is still not taken as seriously as other art by many people. With this blog i hope to show some of the incredible and visionary photographers that are bringing new respect to the medium as well as analysing how the impact of photographic technology effects animation

Happy Tuesdays and Film

Film in itself is obviously a massive industry and a huge topic of discussion. I could start a blog just about any one very specific part of the film industry, horror films for example, and would still struggle to keep up with all of the industry news and developments. With that in mind, I intend to focus my coverage of film in this blog to short films and other relevant non-mainstream films that make some form of impact on the animation industry.

Short films lend themselves well to animation because of the huge production costs and time commitment required to make a full feature film with animated images. Additionally , it is an art form that is traditionally related to a short running time; as children we became used to watching short cartoons and various other short forms of animation; as a result, full length animated features can seem very long.

Obviously, this is a gross generalisation if it were applied to all animated feature films, after all, the company Pixar has won countless awards over the years with their animated features which never fail to wow audiences with their wide appeal, comic timing and aesthetic wonder. In fact the mere existence of the ‘best animated film’ category at the BAFTAs shows the respect and consideration the the film industry gives to animation.

However, one of the most liberating elements of short animation, is that it can be achieved on a small scale independent of huge production companies. With the artistic talent, vision and the right software, budding film makers can realise their vision through animation. So with this blog I hope to direct attention towards some small films and important developments within the animated film industry.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is a form of modern art focusing on the clear communication of a message, or perhaps more aptly, it is often the application of art in the commercial market. Graphic designers will produce identity logos, branding, web sites, publications, advertisements and product packaging. The work usually has to convey a specific message and target a specific audience in order to make a sale. It is the embodiment of the idea that ‘a picture says a thousand words’ as the images used in adverts are often required to get across a message instantly.

The term graphic design was first introduced in 1922 by William Addison Dwiggins. Graphic design however has always been present, since prehistoric times. People have always strived and searched for ways to give visual form ideas and to convey their concepts. They wished to bring order and clarity to the information and ideas. People such as scribes, printers and artists strived for this clarity. But so too did industry professionals and salesmen. If you look at adverts from the early twentieth century, they look very different to an advert today, here is a side by side comparison:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a clear example of how the techniques of advertising have changed over time, as has the way that we use images. In the early advert the images are simply functional as they depict very basic examples of the product. However, in the modern advert, the image is the main sell and the writing is just to show the audience where to find more information. Because the image has become so important, the company needs an artist that understands commercial marketing, a graphic designer.

To conclude, Graphic design is the most universal of all the arts. We come across graphic design in everyday life. It is often completely unnoticeable, in fact this can be the result of excellent design; the best designed images, such as street signs convey information so intuitively that we don’t even noticing it is happening. It is all around us, without graphic design we would have to receive all our information by spoken word.

The Start of Happy Tuesdays

Hello, and welcome to my blog, Happy Tuesdays, a blog on which I hope to cover all of the relevant news and developments in the industry of animation and graphic design. Animation has developed so rapidly over the last hundred years and is now a very broad term that covers a lot of different techniques for practicing art in motion. For the first few posts I hope to just outline some of the different sections of this industry that are of particular interest to me. To start with I’m going to briefly outline the history of animation.

Animation is a display of a rapid sequence which illustrates images of 2-D or 3-D artwork; creating the illusion of movement. Early examples of animation can date back 1000′s of years. One of these early examples was a motion drawing found in Palaeolithic cave paintings; here animals where depicted. Whilst these images attempted to capture movement and action in drawings, they were not animation as we would recognise it because there was no equipment to show the images themselves in motion.

In 180AD a Chinese zoetrope-type device was invented. The Chinese zoetrope is known as praxinoscope, or more commonly the flip book. This was a very early and popular animation device, right through the 19th century. This device produced the appearance of movement, though animation didn’t really develop any more until the year of cinematography.

This animation dates back to 1931, Japan

There is obviously no single person who can be considered the creator of film animation. Around the 19th century there where several people working on projects involving animation. There are a number of techniques, which have been improved, changed and developed over time.

Traditional animation: Also known as cell animation or hand-drawn animation. This process was used for most animated films of the 20th century. This is often hailed as the superior style of animating films as apposed to the computer generated images commonly used in modern film making. It takes a painstakingly long time to do compared to computer animation and the skill and commitment of this type of workmanship is what earns it prestige in certain artistic styles.

Stop motion: this involves physically manipulating real world objects. The process involves photographing the object one frame at a time to create the illusion of movement. The largest name in stop motion animation for many years now has been Aardman Animation, creators of Wallace and Gromit and creature comforts as well as a whole host of other beloved children’s shows and feature films.

Computer animation: This is the most common modern technique for animating images. Animation is created uses a variety of techniques, digitally. It follows a lot of the same style and is similar in practice to traditional cell animation with the most notable exception being that the image does not have to be redrawn completely every time the artist wants to make a small change to the image in a sequence of frames.

Clearly each of these practices of animation is a huge topic to discuss, which is good because I intend to keep this blog very active with all of the updates in these various different sections of the industry. However, to begin with I can’t possibly begin to even scratch the surface of describing all of the intricate details of each. So as I keep on posting I will go more in depth about each of these sections.

As a final note, last month Aardman released their latest feature film entitled ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists”, starring Hugh Grant voicing our swashbuckling bearded hero. I’ve yet to see this film, but according to excellent reviews (like this one in the telegraph), the film contains all of the same quality and style that we have come to love Aardman for.