Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who Animated What?

There's a lot going on now about identifying the work on individual animators and I applaud this. It's terribly frustrating to see a good piece of animation and not know who did it. While a certain amount of information has seen print in the last 30 years, there's a lot of information held in the heads of animation artists and fans and a certain amount of actual studio documentation floating around. Thanks to the web, a lot of that is seeing the light of day. I have some of the studio docs and will eventually be posting them here.

Thad K's blog is doing a great job of identifying animators who worked on theatrical shorts.

I wish that DVD special features for animated films included animator identifications. The last group of "star" animators to come to the public's attention were at Disney during the late '80's and early '90's. Who is responsible for particular scenes at Pixar or DreamWorks? You've got to work pretty hard to find this out.

Identifying animators is just a first step, though. We really don't have much of a vocabulary to talk about animation. There are terms used in the business like line of action or anticipation, but there aren't terms that grapple with describing an animator's style or how the acting works. The first article I saw that attempted to do this was Mark Kausler's article on Tom and Jerry in the January 1975 issue of Film Comment. I wish that Kausler wrote more articles of this type. I took a stab at it in this article from Apatoons that's online, but I don't consider it completely successful. There's a lot more work to do before we really nail how to talk about animation.


Anonymous said...

Hello Mark,

I was just wondering the same thing - how can you find out who animated what? I know some of the director commentaries on the latest features DO mention animators, but it's fairly haphazard. Do you know of anywhere on the web that collates this information (and that for earlier features and shorts), or is it all fairly scattered? I know ASIFA animation archive has biographic notes, but not scene by scene info from films as far as I can tell...

By the way, I'm a junior 3D tracker working in London, and I got directed here by the Blackwing case you were interested for your first blog comment!

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Kate. Finding out who animated what is a very haphazard affair. There's a folk knowledge within the business, but this is sometimes wrong. There are some studio documents floating around and I will be making use of the ones that I have for doing animator identifications.

I really wish that this information would be put together in a more systematic fashion. It's important from a historical point of view but also from an educational point of view. When you're learning to animate, one of the best approaches is to study a scene you like frame by frame. Knowing who animated it and what other scenes that animator has done would make it easier to understand an animator's approach.

With subtitling available in DVD's, I always thought it would be great to use it for scene by scene credits.