Monthly Archives: October 2011

Why the world needs a Superman

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Superman. Strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and…… I think you get the picture.

In actuality, Born on Earth in the midst of the depression, Superman brought hope to a nation. A character who gave people somebody to look up to, a nice ideal that if you were in trouble and were to call his name, he would drop from the sky to save you.

Superman is not about abusing the power he has for personal gain, but instead, helping others. He asks no reward or thanks but instead takes what he needs from knowing what he has done is for the greater good. That he has helped someone is reward in itself.

Maybe world events of recent times and the extreme greed and glorification of capitalism in the 80′s has left us all too cynical. Unable to accept the possibility of a person like this.

In an age where the western world seems to be losing it’s ties to religion, you can’t help but wonder what is left to govern mankind, apart from corrupt politicians that appear bent on wealth and stardom. Where do we pull our values from? Who do we look up to?

More commonly in today’s media, the characters that seem to SELL are darker and generally do what they do through some form of revenge related motivation, and there way of dealing with problems tends to be more aggressive and violent. The worrying part of all that is that the media is a product of the society in which we live. A refection of public mood.

No matter where you go in the world people will recognize the Superman logo, but so few know what it truly stands for. On my travels around the world, i learnt that the superman logo represented, to some, American capitalism. The opportunity, by the companies that own the rights to his name, to cash in. Also was the response that superman represents all the world hates about America. The most powerful force on earth, forcing it’s will on others….. So misinterpreted.

Let’s try and remember, although that a big company owns the right to the name, Superman is public property. He can be inspiration in a selfish world.

Just imagine if people tried to be a bit more like him, a bit more helpful, a bit more caring, a bit more concerned for the welfare of others. What a world it would be.

In an age of cynicism, greed and violence, superman offers a belief in the greater good, a reminder of virtue…. a light to show the way. This is how i believe a man can fly and why the world needs a Superman.

https://www.facebook.com/jdanimationdesignandillustration

History Of Animation: An American Tail…

*Animation: Noun:

1. The state of being full of life or vigor; liveliness.
2. The state of being alive.

Synonyms:
liveliness – vivacity – life – passion – enthusiasm – excitement

Lets begin with a guy called James…. An Englishman who moved to America and pioneered greatness in the animation industry. Sounds like a plan, but it’s more than that… It’s history. The James I’m referring to is James Stuart Blackton.

Starting with the stop-action animation “The Enchanted Drawing”, James wowed audiences with the illusion of a living chalkboard illustration. He even interacted with the images, appearing to take items from the drawing then having the imagery seemingly react.

*an·i·ma·tion/ˌanəˈmāSHən/

He then moved on to stop motion photography with the film “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces” where he demonstrated the imagery apparently moving on its own.

James soon lost interest with animation but is widely considered as the father of animation as his work inspired many others to experiment with the medium.

Many people worked with the principle, but the next i would like to talk about is a cartoonist called Winsor McCay. Winsor was a comic artist who’s animations stunned his piers due to his ability to portray form as having three dimensions. He released a film based on his comic strip, a film that became known as “Little Nemo.” His visual style was aesthetically beautiful to the point that he was often accused of tracing photographs. This accusation inspired him to prove otherwise. He went on to animate a film called “Gertie the Dinosaur” widely revered as the first cartoon character created just for film to display it’s own personality. There would have been know way to trace from photographs the form of a dinosaur or it’s movement. (I don’t think Fred Flintstones camera survived the big meteor hit ;^D)

What i love about this work is the fact that it’s the product of a mind that is character and story driven, a comic-strip artist. The look of the character was indeed undeniably beautiful, and is quite obviously a massive influence on the works of the studios that followed. But fundamentally, it would have been well received not purely on the gimmickry of new technology, but on a relatability to a living creature. I feel it’s the first time we see, not simply moving pictures but the illusion of life. As Ward Kimble would later go on to say about early Disney cartoons that they were “…Just glorified comic strips…”** It’s no real surprise when the first animation to truly convey personality was done by a comic guy. Although later Milt Kahl said later that what separated The Disney studios from the competition was that  “…Things have weight and characters have muscles and we’re giving the illusion of realiy”*** I think it’s easy to see here that all those things were being achieved by this very talented artist long before the nine old men picked up their first crayon.

Then along came a guy called Bray who, whilst being a comic artist himself was also quite the manager and businessman. He saw flaws in McCays process and found ways of streamlining it. He pioneered changes that would evolve McCay’s techniques to a more film-business efficient production machine. He made it so that the moving parts were the only bits that needed drawing in each frame, by adopting a process that was essentially an early precursor to photocopying, and applying it to the static background elements. He also Pioneered a variation of the cell animation process. His most famed character was a little guy called Felix the Cat… Felix popularity exploded and lasted until the dawn of the “Talkies.”

One of Brays employees was Max Fleischer. A legend in my world. Myron Waldman, an animator for Max said “Max, of course, was a perfect  gentleman all the time, I never heard him raise his voice…”****   After leaving Bray he went on to set up his own company that producd much adored characters such as Betty Boop, Pop-eye and of course, everyone’s favorite Kryptonian. This is the guy who invented roto-scoping, key-framing and made Superman fly. All done to reduce production time and improve representation of natural movement.

My obvious favorite of his works would be the Superman serial, where he received a commission from Paramount pictures that allowed no expense to be spared.*** The cell animation was just stunning with each frame gloriously rendered as a full colour work of art.

The look of these animated shorts went on to inspire the visual style of a lot of film-noir movies and was a massive influence on the Batman animated series from the 1990′s which then went on to set the style precedent for a lot of the recent WB superhero cartoon series to date.*****

References:

*Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.

Publisher: Collins; Tenth edition edition (4 Mar 2010)

**http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCMyRtLfhag&feature=related

***Richard E Williams – The Animator’s Survival Kit – P5.

Publisher: Faber and Faber; Revised Edition edition (5 Nov 2009)

****http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E01KqT6RURs

*****http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6fB3Hi_rGM&NR=1

sooooo…. this is me then.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.