Friday, 23 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation - Life Class Week 14

Hello Everyone,

I just thought I would post up this weeks life class, its been sitting there nagging at me. My own nature to sit there and stare at it had gotten the better of me until now. This week was again focusing on the movement of the model a concept I hadn't grasped earlier on but I tried to embrace it near the end.

I have to say it's been a little difficult as I love to refine an image, life class has had me constantly trying to speed up. Now I have literally a second on a pose trying to encapsulate one movement into the next. It is tough but I have to take the lessons away from the class. It is important & I know that...

Lets get down to the life class images...

Figure 1 shows the quick sketch phase which once again is an assortment of poses that have to be drawn quickly. I think we had 5 minutes on each pose before the model had to move. I think I'm getting better here considering before I couldn't construct a thing in 5 minutes other then mistakes...

Figure 2 is a continuation of the quick pose phase, needless to say I was trying to fit everything to a page but sitting down made it kind of difficult to utilise everything. Still the content is what matters here not the amount or how well one fills up their page.

Figure 3 was an array of poses that we were to capture in motion, as stated at the beginning of this post, I found it kind of difficult. I didn't know what to focus on having not long on any pose what so ever. Still as the night went on I managed to get the hang of it somewhat...

Figure 4 was another 15 minute pose, again I had no idea where to begin but I decided to focus on the hips here specifically. Seeing as the entire body reacts to how we land on the floor the hips felt as though they were the centre of everything, (because they are).

Figure 5 was probably my only success of the night. I could have drawn more but the darkness of the charcoal made it rather difficult to differentiate lines behind other lines. For this I decided to focus on the 4 frames in front of me. The models foot would lead the chest, to do it ordinary makes it appear wrong so you have to exaggerate it.

Well that concludes life class for this week, I guess we will have to see how the next one goes. The next is the last one until after Easter so I guess I will have to soak up the idea of the moving image before we leave.

Take it easy everyone!

Over & Out,

Unit 5: Animation - Maya Exercises, Week 3 - Rigging the Arms

Hello Everyone,

Just posting the Maya exercises which I have to say I could not resist doing. I felt rubbish all yesterday but still got online to have a play with the 3D rigs. Needless to say this week was the arms, so I had to plot those as well as I could, even when considering my mesh's pudgy fingers.

I have to say I think I am actually getting the hang of what goes on when I rig, I can remember on day one the connection editor being the very bane of my existence. Having to use it repeatedly for the fingers something clicked. Just to wire controls to points, the whole process is amazing I have to say & I really am enjoying it...

Anyway lets get on to the images:

Figure 1 (above) shows my empty rig which has adopted the caveman form. I am very proud of this even though I have yet to sort out the legs. Possibly over summer when I sit down to create my own rigs. There was the option to animate it but TBH I don't see the point unless Cogman moves too...

Figure 2 (above) is my 4 panel view of Cogman. I wanted to put an example of him in the rig. The next stage in the process would be weight painting, something that takes ages if you let it. I will be getting into this technique alot very soon. I'll leave it there i think :)

Well this concludes week 3 of Maya, kind of weird how quickly time seems to be flying when you are overwhelmed with bits and pieces. I am personally amazed I put up the OGR on time.

Take it easy all!

Over & Out,

Unit 5: Animation - Assignment Introduction & Supporting Research

The Question this essay will answer: What inspired famous animator Norman McLaren & how has his work inspired contemporary animators?

Opening Line:

This essay will explore the animated rhythmic concepts of animator Norman McLaren.

Key Sources & Reasons:

The study will begin by identifying cell animation & its uses using the material from Richard Williams book “The Animator's Survival Kit” (2009). “Re-imagining animation: the changing face of the moving image” (2008) by Paul Wells, Johnny Hardstaff & Darryl Clifton will be used to establish the evolution of 2d animation methodology introducing McLaren. An article by focal press John Halas and Roger Manvell entitled “The Technique of Film Animation” (1959) will be used to establish McLarens experimental style. McLarens cultural background will be provided from an essay by Kurihara Utako entitled “Norman McLaren’s Animated Film Rythmetic as Temporal Art” (2011). This study will then identify contemporary animation that was influenced by McLaren’s style using Michel Gagne’s International gallery for “Sensology” (2010).

Order of Points:

•This study will begin by introducing the method of 2D cell animation introducing famous animator Norman McLaren. This study will then discuss Norman McLarens background before establishing his unique experimental style. To conclude this essay will identify McLarens contemporary contribution to the animation medium.

Supporting Research for Written Assignment


“Re-imagining animation: the changing face of the moving image” by Paul Wells, Johnny Hardstaff & Darryl Clifton

“The new documentary in action: a casebook in film making” by Alan Rosenthal

“Canadian film technology, 1896-1986” by Gerald G. Graham


“The Technique of Film Animation” by John Halas and Roger Manvell

“Norman McLaren's Animated Film Rythmetic as Temporal Art” by Kurihara Utako

Michel Gagne Gallery – “Sensology” by Michel Gagne






Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Pixar 1979 - present

Figure 1. Pixar

Pixar has become the very personification of animated film. A company that was initially founded to research & explore the possibility of 3D as a film device had succeeded. Some would agree that the invention of 3D killed off the future possibility of 2D films. While the statement is valid it is still quite possible that the next technological advancement is just around the corner.

Best known for:

•CGI animated feature films created with photorealistic “RenderMan”
•Animated Franchise “Toy Story”
•Animated Franchise “The Incredibles”
•Animated Franchise “Cars”

Figure 2. Toy Story

Pixar are an animation studio that specialise in creating 3D animated features & were seemingly the start of the 3D film medium. With a vast realm such as 3D studios were therefore able to create anything three dimensional. Cell drawn features were no longer confined to animation paper and light boxes, one could now view a full bodied version of their creation from all sides & evil choose to rig & animate the object/character/environment. Pixar is widely known for its use of the photorealistic “RenderMan” a suite that uses a real life lighting & shading render engine. The world would be aghast as the technology would dawn on their cinema screens with Toy Story: Daniel Terdiman observes:
“After all, Cohen explained, until "Toy Story" hit theaters in 1995, Disney had been pretty much the only maker of animated films in the United States. And based on the success of "Toy Story" and subsequent Pixar films, a whole animation industry was born in Hollywood”. (Terdiman: 2011)
Around the dawn of 3D technology Disney had the only large scale 2D animation studio. Disney having rejected animator John Lasseter’s proposal to use 3D as a medium initially had seen potential with an increase of awareness of shorts created by then known as “The Graphics Group” owned by Lucasfilm. Disney eventually wound up securing allegiances with Pixar & began work on “Toy Story” a short that was seemingly inspired by Ladislaw Starevicz “The Mascot” in which toys come to life & escape being resold in a toy shop. Parts of this can even be seen in “Toy Story” as Andy begins to discard his old toys.

Figure 3. The Incredibles

While Pixar is no doubt an attribute to many intelligent minds including the late Steve Jobs it is undoubtedly the foresight of another. John Lasseter is quite possibly one of the founding fathers of 3D animation when creating his initial 3D short staring animated Lamp Luxo Jr. Having it rejected by Disney is quite possibly what baffled him the most as his accomplishment was quite amazing when one considers the technology around at the time. Still Lasseter would persevere & eventually band up with the Lucasfilm group who would allow him and many others to explore the medium which is now one of the largest today. Tom Junod of Esquire observes:
“Though not a particularly famous man, he is the creator of famous things. He's created the movies Toy Story and Cars, for instance, whose fame among children is as everlasting as the millions of small plastic products they've spawned. And he's also one of the creators of Pixar, the animation studio, which means that he's created ... well, this”. (Junod: 2011)
Lasseter is a man of vision who saw and pioneered a technique which modern media utilizes in most feature films even those in full motion. CG is not only for animated shorts but also for segments in films which are enacted in front of green screen technology. Chances are nowadays if one see’s a spaceship on screen it is no longer a scale model but a 3D model. Pixar was at the base of this technology which was founded in Hollywood the place of dreams. Still none of these outside influences have changed Lasseter’s direction who still considers every option before making a true decision, in which Lasseter does with poise & calculation.

Figure 4. Cars

With Lasseters contribution as more of a skill for trade let us consider company CEO Steve Jobs who purchased the company from Lucasfilm prior to its feature length career. Job’s was a perfectionist who had an affinity for technology which would send him on a spiritual vacation from his original pursuits particularly psychology. Jobs would continue to grow interested in future technologies and practices which is what he is most known for in apple computers. Still many do not attribute Jobs contribution to Pixar which one can bet was not just a purchase for profit but a purchase due to his belief in the advancement of 3D technology. Katie Rich of observes:
“It's hard to say exactly what impact Jobs had on Pixar when he was its CEO, since the credit for the studio's genius generally goes to its animators and storytellers. But Apple and Pixar are clearly simpatico companies, born of innovation and a desire to break away from the norm, pioneering new designs and ideas that aren't just fabulous, but game-changing”. (Rich: 2011)
Katie Rich’s statement is true; both Pixar & Apple have the vision and continue to improve on their trade as technology continues to develop. Lasseter would often recount on his conversations with Jobs in which Jobs would just tell him to “Make it great”. Perhaps Job’s saw what the company was capable of from the very beginning but just lacked the confidence to do so. Regardless, these companies were run by a visionary much like Walt Disney before his passing. The animators, the men and women beneath these figure heads are as important as the person at the helm, trying to sculpt their own vision as modern day storytellers.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Pixar. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Toy Story. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. The Incredibles. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Cars. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Terdiman, Daniel. (2011) With Pixar, Steve Jobs changed the film industry forever. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Junod, Tom. (2011) Father of the Year. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Rich, Katey. (2011) Remembering Steve Jobs, Who Made Pixar Possible. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Bill Plympton 1946 - present

Figure 1. Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton’s style is very expressive showing a classic comic theme in each of his exploits. His humour is daring & very explicit, launching an assault of clichés at the audience nearly knocking them from their feet with exaggerated movement. Plympton’s characters are the most impressive all utilizing unique physical traits which are compatible with their demeanour.

Best known for:

•His distinctive caricature art style
•Political Cartoon Strip “Plympton”
•Animated Short “Your Face”
•Animated Feature “Hair High”

Figure 2. Plympton

Plympton is probably most famous for his style which was been accepted globally from his initial short 1983 entitled “Boomtown”. His style would then be on demand from television shows to short commercials for MTV. When watching Plympton’s work one cannot help but feel each message as clear as day, his work is well produced & really excites on numerous levels. Plymptons crude style has been felt throughout more specifically after he established himself as an animator of note after his initial success. Alyce Wilson of probe observes:
“Animator Bill Plympton first earned distinction through his off-the-wall short animated films, played on MTV, as well as on other channels and on the festival circuit. An artist who began his career as an editorial cartoonist and illustrator, Plympton has since created feature length animated films and even written and directed live action films”. (Wilson: 2005)
Plympton’s work conveys society as a drug trip with people sporting exaggeration associated with their personality (example – the nerd cliché - large glasses & buck teeth). His colour work is strong & very personalised, in some cases contrasting tones that no other would even consider for fear of distracting the viewer. This is probably were Plympton’s work has its biggest downfall where the colours can feel so stylised that they distract from the narrative that his work is trying to convey.

Figure 3. Your Face

This is not to say that Plympton’s narratives are lost in the limelight but more so to say that they can sometimes discredit what is considered to be well driven stories. Regardless, no one can take away from Plympton’s achievements which have transcended & adapted well to contemporary media. Plympton’s work was a high commodity in the past mainly because of its vision & how it conveyed society, more notably of the music scene with MTV’s Liquid Television. Drew Grant of Salon Core observes:
“Plympton’s work on Fox’s “The Edge” and MTV’s “Liquid Television” in the 1980s and ’90s were so ahead of their time it’s amazing the networks allowed it — but he now bemoans the lack of American distribution for adult cartoons. (My personal favorite of his is “25 Ways to Quit Smoking.”) He hates Internet piracy, but loves the international audience it has provided him”. (Drew: 2011)
One can appreciate Plympton’s work on an adult level but that is not to say that his talent could not entertain children. This is what separates his style distinctively from his narratives with both conveying different messages; children would see this as a colourful experience while adults see it as an acid trip compiled of dirty jokes stereotypes. Contemporary animation of today is primarily aimed at children but with the onset of animated series such as Seth MacFarlane’s “Family guy” or Trey Parker & Matt Stones “South Park” it is fair to say that animation is shifting its way to adults, quite possibly because of Plympton’s influence.

Figure 4. Hair High

Animation has been Plympton’s dream since he was a child always aspiring to create films alongside greats such as Walt Disney. Still it is fair to say that Plympton’s style does not ring very true of his former inspiration. In fact it is probably more likely to say that Plympton’s style still roots back to his days as a comic illustrator paying homage to his ability as an artist not so much as an animator. Plymptons exposition & animation hand print has been gifted from his credited roots due to his ability to notice form and express his unique style through it. Robert Kohr of Plymptoon’s observes:
“All his life, Bill Plympton has been fascinated by animation. When he was fourteen, he sent Disney some of his cartoons and offered up his services as animator. They wrote back and told him that while his drawings showed promise, he was too young”. (Kohr: 2004)
Bill Plympton was inspired from an early age & it is a testament to his talent that Disney liked his early cartoons. To think where the medium could have been now had Disney signed him when he was younger. Still to think what we may have lost out on with Plympton confining himself to innocent child cartoons. Plympton is a wonder & his style has its place in our minds and hearts expressing the very ideals of historical & contemporary cultures. His work is growing with its generation, as Plympton’s skill expands so does the next piece of work.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Bill Plympton. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Plympton. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. Your Face. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Hair High. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Wilson, Alyce. (2007) Probe: Bill Plympton. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Grant, Drew. (2011) The fascinating contradictions of Bill Plympton. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Kohr, Robert. (2004) Plymptoons Biography. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Phil Mulloy 1948 - present

Figure 1. Phil Mulloy

Mulloy’s work speaks volumes about modern society & culture. The genre of his shorts is essentially black comedy for the most part in which he illustrates using black ink against white paper with primitive skeleton characters as cast. Mulloy’s work exploits the clichés of the ever popular Hollywood genres.

Best known for:

•His visual style of skeletal figures against minimalist backgrounds
•Animated Series “Cowboys”
•Animated Series “The Ten Commandments”
•Animated Series “The Chain”

Figure 2. Cowboys

Mulloy’s work borders on the demonic with a simple cause & effect logic. A dilemma is presented for each of his individual animated shorts that in some shape or fashion correspond to a cultural tradition or past time. Mulloy’s work can be considered rather barbaric as the artist feels no need to hold his punches. With that being said the messages are extremely clear one even remembers an episode of Cowboys entitled “Murder” in which Mulloy pokes fun at Lynch mobs & societies history of dealing with evil men, aiding each other to snap the murderers neck. Green Jersey of BFI Film Store observes:
“The antidote to all that is kitsch and sentimental, these direct, witty and acerbic fables, drawn in brush and ink, perceptively comment on human nature and challenge contemporary values”. (Jersey: 2002)
Mulloy’s style is crude & simplistic but it works for the arguments in which he is making, he could not convey man in a worse light then portraying society as a form of walking skeleton. The environments are not the focus, the people are which is true of the world, society is where it is because of the people populating it. Mulloy’s work is a portrayal of clichés that inspect the human condition & draw a conclusion usually as a punch line, the end to a 3 minute joke summarising man as the true evil to any given situation.

Figure 3. The Ten Commandments

Mulloys work feels almost strategically based in groupings, mostly because each of them contains a theme that directly relates with another. What is quite possibly the strongest element of Mulloys work is just how the messages are conveyed simply dealing with a chosen situation in a specific satiric way. One could argue that this is due to the minimal props & settings on screen, the characters are the focal point relaying reality at its most shameful. Still, Mulloy’s work is effective as Anthony Nield of The Digital Film Fix observes:
“Indeed, Mulloy’s work is serious in the extreme as he tackles what he considers to be the major problems infecting society. The Cowboys films see the beginnings of this idea as he confronts issues of crowd mentality; The Conformist being the most blatant, dealing with, unsurprisingly, conformity”. (Nield: 2003)
Mulloy’s dilemmas are extraordinarily clear especially to the person that is searching for the meaning of the animated short. Let us consider conformity a cowboy short made by Mulloy in which a cowboy spends ten years of his life chasing a horse. Eventually he captures the horse & returns only to find everybody has horses with wheels on their feet. Everybody else mock him so he goes away and saws his horses legs off conforming to what is modern. The book is open & shut over the course of 3 minutes if anything Mulloy’s shorts could be considered a definition of words to the modern society.

Figure 4. The Chain

What is probably Mulloy’s biggest downfall is again when one looks at the opposite side of the scale. While it is clear the Mulloy is trying to convey a message it is obvious to the point of a grade school understanding, constantly smacking one in the face with its levels of obviousness. This can get pretty tiresome after watching a few examples of Mulloy’s work as one begins to notice his tendency to over embellish. With that being said Mulloy’s work is for the most part unique conveying the grit & grime of our culture in a thrash style. Sean Gandert of Paste Magazine observes:
“The paintings themselves are simple and unattractive, but taken as a whole, create absolutely gorgeous, expressive panoramas. Not only that, but the style fits perfectly with Mulloy's brazen storytelling, as it's endlessly and undeniably in your face”. (Gandert: 2009)
Still it can be said that as Mulloy’s work as continued to grow his backgrounds are continually become less bare and more colourful. Mulloy’s characters remain ugly & deformed as his need to portray man as evil continues to establish him as a reputable animator. The people in Mulloy’s shorts are all bad, there is never a good person which one could argue is Mulloy’s brazen way of saying to everyone that man is flawed. Man is and will continue to be an obvious metaphor for their inner natures, establishing our race as the demon and the world as the innocent (Man – Black/Evil World – White/Good).


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Phil Mulloy. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Cowboys. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. The Ten Commandments. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. The Chain. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Jersey, Green. (2002) Phil Mulloy: Extreme Animation. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Nield, Anthony. (2003) Phil Mulloy: Extreme Animation. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Gandert, Sean. (2009) Salute Your Shorts: Phil Mulloy's Extreme Animation. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Jiri Barta 1948 - present

Figure 1. Jiri Barta

Jiri Barta is a stop motion film maker much like fellow artist Jan Svankmajer, his primary talents lie in his ability with the medium of wood, particularly for wooden puppets. Still one would have to consider Barta’s range of art forms particularly works like “Disc Jockey” which one could attribute to the late Lotte Reiniger only with colour & rhythm as opposed to silhouette.

Best known for:

•His use of the medium of wood for animation
•Animated Feature “In the Attic”
•Animated Feature “The Pied Piper”
•Animated Short “Disc Jockey”

Figure 2. Disc Jockey

Jiri Barta has a wide range of talent, experimenting with different types of animation early on before finding his true calling. His gift to the modern world is largely due to his stop motion epics like “The Pied Piper” which would see full scale wooden models performing exploits to the plot of a narrative. Still, much like the Brothers Quay one would have to take serious note of his empathy toward sound which compliment his feature works such as “In the Attic” with vivacity, truly encapsulating his audience. Jenny Jediny of not coming to a theatre near you observes:
“Like Svankmajer, Barta leans toward the grotesque in his imagery; sound is heavily emphasized, whether it is blood sloshing or a guttural, nonsensical tongue, providing a tactile quality to his characters and their universe”. (Jediny: 2007)
Barta’s fictional worlds & characters jump to life on screen be they an old child like toy or a moral/immoral pied piper. Nothing is truly left to the imagination, it is shown as clear as day as if trying to capture something more then what is in front of the audience. Every sound effect feels almost amplified to make the audience feel as though they are the ones instigating the protagonist’s tasks. It’s almost as if one would be able to sum the animated story up by closing their eyes to let their ears do the visualising for them.

Figure 3. The Pied Piper

Barta’s particular talent still lies within his ability to tell a gruesome tale which is no doubt where he got some of his early influences through Jan Svankmajer. Still unlike these other talented stop motion colleagues Barta likes to consider the opening of hope. Barta’s animated narratives serve a purpose & unlike the Brothers Quay have elements of charm & sophistication not adhering to the entirety of doom & gloom. One could argue that this is to discredit the uncanny only to bring each absurd reality closer to home for his audience. Ivana Košuličová of Kinoeye observes:
“In these films, Barta creates mysterious horror worlds full of sinful, grasping humans who reflect the decay of human society. Apocalypse for humankind comes from the uncanny beings from the "other side." Yet, there always remains some hope: in elderly wisdom, in innocent childhood and in the morning that comes after a vampires' night”. (Košuličová: 2002)
One could argue that Barta’s work was not an attempt to dissuade the dream logic to the point of realism but to fine tune the dramaticism communicating its subtle messages to the masses. The “other side” of “the Pied Piper” reflects a chaotic evil but behind every shadow is that glimmer of light not pristine to the perfect life but pristine to life’s opposite. Barta is never trying to communicate perfection, just the ideal of perfection to these horrific worlds.

Figure 4. In the attic

Let us contrast Barta’s past works with his newest considering the children’s epic “In the Attic”. The toys feel very textural with the sound once again playing its key tones layers above everything else. The attic itself is clustered in dust & cob webs but the charm is most certainly provided by the props creating a life scale epic of a miniature scenario. The toys are lovable but battered & discarded; the Pixar logic of toys wishing to be played with is not the key situation, the toys themselves are individuals, living out their daily routines until a tragedy occurs. Dan North of Spectacular attractions observes:
“Barta’s film tries to reassure us that the toys retain their independence, going about their business regardless, even in spite of the humans who live below them. These characters carry a sense-memory of their former function as toys, replaying the roles they were assigned from birth, and therein lies a gentle description of a para-world of social roles and ritualised behaviours”. (North: 2010)
One could not help but feel as though Barta did not want to aim this tale at children with the aesthetic sense that all toys have a single purpose. One could say that this is a testament to Ladislaw Starewicz “Fétiche Mascotte” portraying the identities of discarded toys uncertain and left to their outside influences. Still in this case it is fair to say that a certain charm is brought forth by these toys banding together to save one of their family, the toy personalities are caring or a personification of evil. Barta’s tactile charm is the cherry on the cake with every on screen action to be celebrated with stylised stop frame gesture.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Jiri Barta. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Disc Jockey. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. The Pied Piper. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. In the attic. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Jediny, Jenny. (2007) The Animation of Jirí Barta. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Košuličová, Ivana. (2002) The morality of horror. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

North, Dan. (2010) Jiří Barta’s In the Attic: The Other Toy Story. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - The Brothers Quay 1947 - present

Figure 1. The Brothers Quay

The Brothers Quay illustrate a very disturbing scene with the ambiguous undertones from influences such as Jan Svankmajer. One cannot help but notice the desolate destruction as if portrayed in a back alley, the crafted toys focus on gestural animation but every tiny detail is considered conjuring a haunting image for all.

Best known for:

•Their dark moody atmospheres & disassembled puppetry
•Animated Feature “Street of Crocodiles”
•Animated Feature “Nocturna Artificialia”
•Live Action Film “Institute Benjamenta”

Figure 2. Nocturna Artificialia

The Brothers Quay started of their careers as illustrators graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art. They moved on to making animated films when receiving a scholarship to the Royal College of Art London. While in London they got to work on their initial animated shorts which were mostly lost their memorable short at the time was “Nocturna Artificialia” an enigmatic story told in chapters each separated by title cards. What is probably most memorable of the Quays work is their attention to detail in their stylistic dreary sets. Ewa Mazierska of Screen online observes:
“The Quays are renowned for their craftsmanlike methods and their unusual sources of inspiration. Apart from their puppets, which typically look like old dolls abused by many generations of children, they construct their own sets, arrange the lighting, and operate the cameras”. (Mazierska: 2003)
The Quays work aspires to the stop motion medium with characters reattaching themselves in front of the audience in a dismal post apocalyptic setting. The sadness is best described by the setting while the fear is uncannily provided by the old beaten dolls, some with organic counterparts. The Quay’s ability to stage a small scene as though it is a life sized epic is probably the most influential aspect of their work. No detail is taken for granted and serves a key purpose to their narrative & influential goal.

Figure 3. Institute Benjamenta

Perhaps what is most fascinating is the Quays ability to alter the requirements of their narrative, distorting & shifting its will to evoke further insecurities from the viewing audience. It is the Quays goal to create a sort of suspension that defies realty not that much unlike a dream state. People can relate to the fictitious worlds of the Quay even if it is sometimes on the realm of the nightmare as opposed to the dream. Still one cannot take away their achievements, to create a purposeful image blurring the edges from dream from logic. Gale Cengage of Enotes observes:
“To an even greater degree than many of their literary influences, the Quays eschew linear storytelling for the evocation of intense psychological states by means of oneiric and obliquely sinister images accompanied by provocative sounds and music”. (Cengage: 1997)
The Brothers Quay tend to tie the art of Pathology to their work focusing on its grotesque consequence. Their work borders on the fetish at certain points (e.g. topless dolls all posed in crude demeanour). The realities portrayed in their work symbolise a brittle truth which is somewhat archaic leaving one in a state of depression. The Quays music only attributes to the image of the depressive & fearful without answering too many questions imposed by the oneiric narrative. However, un-nerving the Quay’s work is inspiring expressing great attention to detail & a great sense of filmic exposure.

Figure 4. Street of Crocodiles

The Quay’s work is surreal providing subtle undertones that link to cultural reality it is only due to their dire need to explain the distressed that make certain themes ideal. Their most famous animated short “Street of Crocodiles” is a testament to their skill set locking audiences into a frozen half made world unparallel to time itself. Everything feels distorted as the ticking clock remains dormant with its fleshy counterpart replacing the clockwork interior. Screws come to life and start dancing as if in a crazed ballet before winding themselves back into the wooden floor. The questions are rampant but so are the audiences need to speculate what the narrative means to them. Alan Schwartz of the European graduate school observes:
“...their most famous work to date, Street of Crocodiles is a twenty-one minute animation film which evokes pre-war Poland, provincial and mystical, connected to the traditions of history before the destruction of the German war machine rolled across it”. (Schwartz: 2003)
The Brothers Quay exaggerate the cultural history of the world in their works capitalizing on a dream state narrative that can either birth feelings of empathy or the uncanny. To ask the Quays for their testament to the study of psychology their influences can be summed up to the forms of the fetish or pathology. From this one can only draw the conclusion that their work suggests deeper meaning, a bitter truth that can be understood or discarded. From their exploits one would have to argue that their understanding of the Uncanny would have to be another undertone of their work due to the human psyches need to discard a familiar unfamiliar much like Jan Svankmajer before them.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. The Brothers Quay. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Nocturna Artificialia. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. Institute Benjamenta. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Street of Crocodiles. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Mazierska, Ewa. (2003) Quay, Brothers (1947-). At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Cengage, Gale. (1997) the Brothers Quay Criticism. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Schwartz, Alan. (2003) Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay - Biography. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Jan Svankmajer 1934 - present

Figure 1. Jan Svankmajer

One could say that Svankmajer’s surreal eye is the more domineering aspect of his trade. His models border very close to the uncanny while scaring on familiar levels. One could argue that Svankmajer’s stories benefit from his style, creating a strange insecurity within us all. With that being said he is still a great contributor to the animation medium.

Best known for:

•His Surreal Uncanny stop motion technique
•Animated Feature “Alice”
•Animated Feature “Faust”
•Animated Feature “Conspirators of pleasure”

Figure 2. Surreal clay Sculpture

Jan Svankmajer’s passion grew from early childhood with a gift that would send him into the animation medium. Having been gifted a puppet theatre Svankmajer went on to establish his body of work through forging custom made puppets (much like Ladislaw Starewicz). However, it is established that Snakmajer never wanted to succeed as an animator but to succeed by giving life to otherwise everyday objects. From this one could argue that Svankmajer never intended to tell a story but to just establish humans interacting with artificiality. When asked about his technique in an interview animator Jan Svankmajer replied:
“Animators tend to construct a closed world for themselves, like pigeon fanciers or rabbit breeders." Svankmajer stated in an interview, "I never call myself an animated filmmaker because I am interested not in animation techniques or creating a complete illusion, but in bringing life to everyday objects”. (Svankmajer: 1997)
Still when one thinks of Svankmajer’s work it is quite fair to say that that a story is still somewhat at the heart, even if it is not his goal to deliver an animated film. Perhaps what Svankmajer’s work signifies is just how far one can push an audience before their thoughts on a concept change. One could argue that his work is just a testament to his understanding of the human psyche to which some of his more Freudian interpretations are to be considered. Svankmajer’s work is a lesson to us all, to establish what is right & what is wrong in terms of animation.

Figure 3. Alice

One cannot help but also lay homage to Svankmajers fascination to the act of eating, turning a usually fruitless on screen act into a cursed reality. Let us consider Svankmajers work “Alice”, in which you have a girl not questioning the food on display, eating cookies which inevitably change her in size. It is even fair to consider the rabbit that is forever late, constantly eating its own stuffing which ejects through its chest. These acts are slightly ambiguous mostly a testament to Svankmajers importance of the food to his narrative. Still it is fair to say Svankmajer had a goal in mind for “Alice” one that would transcend the Disney classic. Jeremy Heilman of Movie Martyr observes:
“Instead of dumbing down Carroll’s novel, as Disney’s animated feature did, Svankmajer tries to understand what it is that makes its youthful protagonist tick. If he doesn’t seem to come to the same conclusions that Carroll did, he certainly makes a film that offers a compelling alternative reading”. (Heilman: 2002)
Svankmajer focused on the protagonist of Carroll’s classic novel as opposed to the wonders of the life down a rabbit hole. One cannot help but wonder why a seemingly sweet girl would follow a scary rabbit into a drawer, or for that matter understand where that drawer came from. One could argue that Svankmajer wanted to focus on that sweet girl even going so far as to make her somewhat ambiguous. The story is entirely about Alice & does not revolve around certainty; objects feel as though they choose when to appear & what role they are to play in the next shot.

Figure 4. Faust

With the allure of Alice aside let us return to Svankmajer whose work originated with the concept of puppetry. Svankmajer explores realms some would consider to be distasteful or unsettling; still it is not without renown. Some have to be bold to find their true place of their chosen medium; Svankmajer’s goal is to understand how the human psyche reacts to his work & why. Svankmajers work is a celebration of creativity & the modern world in general, for each scene of his work is not only a reflection on him, but a reflection on us. Chris Buckle of The Skinny Cultural Journal observes:
“Whether live action, animation, or, most often, a combination of the two, Svankmajer’s work celebrates the power of imagination in all its facets: absurd, fantastical, allegorical, and often unsettling. Svankmajer takes mundane reality and sculpts something uncanny”. (Buckle: 2012)
The uncanny is most certainly something that Svankmajer battles with on a continual basis, mostly due to some of his more true life subjects (the rabbit in Alice for example). One can only attribute this once again to Svankmajer’s continual identification of the psyches interpretation of Uncanny. This claim is less true of Svankmajer’s more creative projects in which the characters are based of usual inanimate objects that have somewhat come to life, after all the Uncanny is only felt when a familiar object feels unfamiliar (moving in a funny way, etc). Jan Svankmajer will forever be an animator of note for generations to come.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Jan Svankmajer. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Surreal clay Sculpture. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. Alice. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Faust. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Svankmajer, Jan. (1997) The Surrealist Conspirator: An Interview With Jan Svankmajer. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Heilman, Jeremy. (2002) Alice (Jan Svankmajer) 1988. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Buckle, Chris. (2012) GFF 2012: 85A Presents Jan Svankmajer. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Ladislaw Starewicz 1882 - 1965

Figure 1. Ladislaw Starewicz

Starewicz animation shows exceptional attention to detail particularly with facial animation. One would not expect such a range of character motion from seemingly static custom made dolls & animals. It is only until one sits back and considers the dedication of Starewicz providing generations with a unique brand of stop motion animation.

Best known for:

•Stop Motion animation using physical animals & insects
•Animated Short “La Voix du rossignol” (The Voice of the Nightingale)
•Animated Short “Fétiche Mascotte” (The Mascot)

Figure 2. Wired Beetles

Ladislaw Starewicz started his life with a fascination of insects & animals it is this which lead him into his particular field of animation. His desire was to push these creatures into films considering them viable cast members to his animated pursuits. For what young child was not interested in bugs at a young age, his vision was not limited for soon he would attempt to recreate the visual experiences of his bug sized friends & beyond. Rubberneck of Millennial Mavericks observes:
“An early obsession with entomology led to a desire to film his subjects. Unfortunately, the heat from his studio lights caused the poor creatures to expire. Starewicz's solution to this problem was to construct detailed models of insects which he could then manipulate at will, a process which fired his imagination”. (Rubberneck: 1997)
Ladislaw’s method was bold and probably took a great amount of trial & error; one could imagine it being particularly difficult with living insects through their need to degrade after time. Still one would have to respect how this would lead Ladislaw down the path of models that have a range of animation. It is still particularly amazing when one considers his animated beetle shorts, replacing their legs with wires to create beetle sized puppets. From this plateau one would have to consider Ladislaw’s ability to create a controllable skeleton from the inanimate small to large.

Figure 3. The Mascot

Let us reflect on the inner message showcased in Starewicz work, more importantly trying to give life to the inanimate. One could argue that his pursuits were very much like that of Winsor McCay and many animators after him, just wanting to see their characters come to life and interact with them. With that being said it is fair to say that Starewicz surveyed the creatures of his work to note how they moved & how that movement could be implied on a character gesture. As much can be found in his works particularly “The Mascot” which truly creates a lovable vibe from what some could consider being an uncanny affair. Adrian Danks of senses of cinema observes:
“These toy or doll characters are of course given a degree of human agency. They act in a fashion that is in keeping with the stereotypes imparted on them by the humans. Thus, the central character of the film is Duffy, an expressive, but somewhat worn dog-toy who is brought “to life” by the tear of a child’s (its owner) mother.” (Danks: 2004)
The range of motion expressed in Starewicz “The Mascot” is amazing; the characters are cute providing child like comedy throughout. One would even have to respect some of the characters abilities to do miniature motion such as blinking. The story itself is sad but portrays the world as a surreal large plateau with evil hidden behind dirty corners. The opening scene is quite possibly the most touching with a single tear animating this otherwise lifeless toy. The vision of “The Mascot” is quite vivid but it pulls at the heart strings & has a comedic charm that would otherwise feel too forced. The stereotypes aside Starewicz truly had an eye for motion & gesture.

Figure 4. Tale of the Fox

Starewicz’s work was & still is impressive, leading on to inspire many in completely different ways. It is quite bizarre to think back to the origin of a trade, mostly consisting of experimentation & the curiosity of a chosen few. One could argue that Starewicz did not explore a trade or an art form; he explored a hobby (his fascination with insects), something he truly loved to bring entertainment to the masses & provide a tool kit that would be used for generations to come. From moving insects we were given moving toys contrasted with on screen human beings subtly showing how close our reality can come to fiction. M. Faust of Art Voice observes:
“In particular, Starewicz’s 1993 short “The Mascot” plays like a blueprint for the style of Tim Burton productions like “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, with its large cast of bizarre dolls & puppets brought to life by painstaking stop-motion work. It’s impressive even by today’s standards.” (Faust: 2010)
Starewicz wonders continue to inspire today generation after generation producing memorable animation and narrative gems such as Pixar’s “Toy Story”. It is testament to ones resolve when one considers the work required to convey the range of motion in Starewicz work. The dolls in each short are cute not particularly scary (unless required – the devil in “The Mascot”). The demeanours are expressive & convey their stereotype all the way from the adolescent puppy to the enraged adult gangster. One could even attribute this range to other contemporary productions such as Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare before Christmas”, this truly shows how Starewicz work has secured the influence of the current generation.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Ladislaw Starewicz. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Wired Beetles. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. The Mascot. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Tale of the Fox. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Rubberneck. (1997) Animal Magnetism: The Animation of Ladislaw Starewicz. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Danks, Adrian. (2004) Ladislaw Starewicz and The Mascot. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Faust,M. (2010) The Films of Ladislaw Starewicz. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Lotte Reiniger 1899 - 1981

Figure 1. Lotte Reiniger

Reiniger saw the silhouette of a person as a doorway to convey a story. All on screen motion is dynamic with even the subtlest footstep showing character development and gesture. One cannot help but be inspired when one considers that greats such as Disney’s “Aladdin” would not exist had it not been for this talented animator.

Best known for:

•Her unique Silhouette Animation
•Animated Short “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” (Inspired Disney’s Aladdin)
•Animated Short “Cinderella”
•Animated Short “Sleeping Beauty”

Figure 2. The Adventures of Prince Achmed

While it is at times difficult to differentiate the true origin of an idea, it only takes one to truly drive it past the words on the page to show it as a visual art form, Reiniger was such a talent. Every on screen situation of Reiniger’s work is readable & tugs at the heart strings. Many people will recognise working names on her roster which have become much more thanks to studios such as Walt Disney. If anything Reiniger’s style shows the entire world that one only needs vision to visualise a great story, the aesthetics we take for granted are not needed, you can convey a story with the basics if you have the vision. Profiler E. H. Larson observes:
“Even her later films, produced for television in the 1950s and noticably less sophisticated than her early work, possess a pure cinematic magic that is present in the work of very few animators. In all likelihood, there will never be a silhouette animator who will match Reiniger's skill, vision, and patience, and her films may well remain a unique testament to the potential achievements of the art form”. (Larson: 1999)
There is no diminishing Reiniger’s style especially when one considers the attention to detail taken with each on screen moment. The camera cuts & zooms to illustrate key signifiers such as Cinderella & the ugly sisters trying on a slipper. Even tragedy is conveyed through gesture. Let us consider the highly popular “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” the action is dynamic & the evil traveller is most certainly fiendish. The sadness conveyed when the prince’s castle floats away is truly staggering almost as if these pieces of paper have come to life.

Figure 3. Cinderella

In reflection let us take this chance to assess Reiniger’s style which primarily consisted of her ability to be able to cut forms from paper & cardboard. The drawn image was not needed for her pictures as she best conveyed her story’s through silhouette animation. If a character needed to move from point A to point B she would remove, add or stage a second leg. The principles of cell drawn animation applied but to physical shapes as opposed to page after page of drawn images. Effectively one could see this approach saving ones time but Reiniger’s attention to detail was what truly made her stand out as an animator of note. Abhijit Dasitidar of Frontier India summarises Reiniger’s style:
“Using tracing paper and cardboard, Reiniger used scissors to cut her figures, and breathe life into inanimate paper.The cutting strokes provided the figures with characters. As the gaunt sorcerer, the plump good natured witch, and the obese, power conscious emperor are caught in motion, against a background of light and shadow, assigned roles lucidity emerge.” (Dasitidar: 2000)
One could argue that Reiniger’s approach taught animators that a silhouette character can look marginally the same, be they obese or are wearing a jacket or robe. If there gesture is different or if they speak differently they are considered a completely different person regardless of proportion of shape. One could not help but notice the similarities between some of Reiniger’s more complex forms such as delicate female features or rugged guards brittle chins. The theme of the story also helps shape the audience’s viewpoint for example if Achmed in “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” is being chased by numerous guards we are focused on the action of the characters to notice the similarities of the characters if any.

Figure 4. The Sleeping Beauty

In this context one could conclude that Reiniger gave as much to the form of animation as greats such as Walt Disney & Windsor McCay. One could argue that her form of animation was more gestural, a form of animated sculpting as opposed to drawn sketches but that cannot take away from her contribution to the world of animation. One would even have to consider that Walt Disney would not have been able to take his ideas to where they were had it not been for the work of Reiniger, this would eventually mean we would have no Pixar & thus no history of great western fairytales. Paul Shapera of The steam punk opera observes:
“It is also worth mentioning that anyone who tells you Walt Disney made the first feature length animated film, with Snow White in 1937, they are wrong. Ms. Reiniger did it first 14 years earlier. (Disney made the first feature animated film using cels. You can say that.).” (Shapera: 2012)
We cannot honestly say that Disney took his entire influence of the animation medium from Reiniger but what we can say is her stories were taken further and made into a billion dollar industry. If it wasn’t enough she also founded a great form of gestural animation through silhouette. One could even argue that this style found its way to shows such as “South Park” which were originally built the same way through cut up construction paper. These mediums are robust & still have tonnes of potential even in today’s modern media, consider Michel Gagne’s “insanely twisted shadow puppets” built from the theme of digital silhouette. Reiniger is as important today as she ever was - an animation icon.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Lotte Reiniger. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. The Adventures of Prince Achmed. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. Cinderella. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. The Sleeping Beauty. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Larson, E.H. (1999) Silent Era Personalities. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Dasitidar, Abhijit. (2000) Lotte Reinigers Silhouettes. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Shapera,Paul. (2012) The Silhouette Animation of Lotte Reiniger. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation - Interim Online Review - 20/03/2012 Part 2

Unit 5 Animation Interim Online Review

Links to Additional Unit Specific Posts

Animator Profiles

Life Class

Time Machine

Maya Exercises

Unit 5: Animation - Interim Online Review - 20/03/2012 Part 1

The Empathy Lamp Shop Arson Narrative Development Revised

The Empathy Lamp Shop Arson Revised Script

Unit 5: Animation - Influence Maps

Hello Everyone,

Another small update, I have been delaying doing these so today I thought I would get stuck in. Now for my maps I have 2 combined meanings in my character map. Firstly it is not all about looks but the actual animation of clumsiness. So do not be put off by the fact that jar jar Bink's & the scream man are in there.

The idea of this unit is animation & I have to convey clumsiness. My character design will more or less consist of the lamps shade & bulb as a face obviously which I directly relate to the oracle from halo.

Anyway lets get onto the maps...

As you can see from the map above, I have centralised the images that look like lights. For look that is what they will consist of, now when you look to the left you get images such as the smurf etc, these are not for looks. This is to establish the animation of an oaf, which is the basis of this unit.

Last but not least I came up with the map above, which looks into my environment a little. I wanted to look at shop windows at night, not all of them were for lamps but it was nice to see the variant shop types. My favourite is the largest obviously, as it has this unique lamp shop look.

I know we are to try to keep the environment bare bone but if anything it will help me establish the dimensions of my window.

Well that concludes this little post, I have a few others to make still so yeah keep your eyes peeled (if any of you are still awake).

Take it easy!

Over & Out,

Unit 5: Animation - Maya Exercises, Week 1 & 2 - Introduction to Rigging

Hello Everyone,

Just thought I would drop in to finally post my Maya stuff. I have to say I am having fun doing the rigging, something I never thought would be possible. Maybe its because I can see myself getting closer and closer to rigging my little caveman :P

I took a little breather earlier to get the piston rigged too which I also found quite fun. The process is a little complicated & I'm quite sure I have lost some of it to my memory already. But I'd like to think that I'm gradually getting the mind for it. I love doing it I know that...

Anyway lets get down to the work.

Figure 1 (above) shows the starting point which was the leg rig. Very basic to look at but very complicated to come to terms with anew. Once it was done I couldn't help but smile, I also felt a yearning to bring my mesh in and just have a look sadly I didn't get around to that on week 1.

Figure 2 (above) shows my leg rig in single perspective view (SPV). This was just to show a close up the joints were worked out due to spacing which required us to count the squares on the grid. I am going to have to align the legs to my mesh when I get a chance.

Figure 3 (above) shows further development on week 2 of our Maya class. As you can see Cogman is in, I could not resist specifically when Simon told us this was to be aligned with the neck and spine of a mesh. I felt much more excited once he was there, I am working toward him becoming animated.

Figure 4 (above) shows multiple views (MV) of cogman with the rig inside. I'm glad I put him in, the rings have to be adjacent to the body. The spine goes finely up the centre of his back to the top of his head. His jaw is in place & so are the eyes. All of these areas are defined by the points on the spine.

Last but not least my piston leg video (shown above). This is my first official rig with a mesh attached & you heard it here first! I'm just hoping that Cogman will be my second, will be nice to finally get a character moving. Especially since I've been watching my business partner do this and think wow, now its my turn :P

Anyway that should be it for this post, I have another couple to go including the green light & a possible little revision of my script & my initial character sketches.

Could be another late one, oh well.
Take it easy!

Over & Out,

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation - Week 1 - 2D Animation

Hello Everyone,

It's a little late but its here!

Just putting the finishing touches on things so I won't waffle, just thought id get this post ready for the work on display. This week we were set additional homework which is due in today. I have my videos uploaded and my gestures being put onto photobucket as I speak.

I found the cell animation interesting, i believe it can be taxing, not because of the drawing involved but mainly because of the amount of paper and things one has to consider when using it. Example my boulder splits and leaves debris, so that meant I had to draw the debris of the previous rock over and over. With that being said it has been quite fun!

Anyway lets move on to the work...

Gesture Drawings:

Initial Character Sheet

Cell Animations:

Bouncing Ball

Breaking Boulder

Lamp Morph to Blimp

This concludes my animation post for this week. Hopefully next week I will have alot more, the only thing really missing here is the storyboard. There just wasn't enough time.

Hope everyone gets a kick out of these :)
Take it easy!!

Over & Out,