Wednesday, April 25, 2007


What do the following animation studios have in common? Yowzaa, Project Firefly, Neomis Animation, Fat Cat Animation, James Baxter Animation, Wang Film Productions, July Films, and Sunwoo Entertainment?

They all worked on Curious George. With the exception of Sunwoo, they all contributed animation to Curious George. And that doesn't count Imagine Entertainment/Universal, where more animation was done.

Several of these companies are Canadian and I would be the last one to argue that they shouldn't be grabbing whatever business they can find, especially when it comes to features, where Canada is woefully underrepresented.

But there are obvious questions to be asked: how do you make a coherent feature and control quality when you've farmed out the animation to nine companies? How do you create consistent characterizations when the animators have no clue what's being done at other facilities? When did people start to assume that animated performances are something you can build out of standardized parts, like a car, so it doesn't matter where you buy them? When did Hollywood's opinion of animated acting get so low that it no longer cared at all?

I'm just curious.


Michael Sporn said...

The answer, of course, is that there is no respect today for animated acting. I'm not sure one can see the difference between a Curious George or a Space Jam or most of the other recent features.
Hoodwinked, Barnyard et al lead us into the 21st Century.
These days the moments are rare when we can connect with an animated character. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time going to see animated characters on screen anymore.

Anonymous said...

Well, Michael said it pretty well.

I actually have to disagree in the case of specific places and projects I've worked on where the animators were absolutely treasured, but for those "big" productions alluded to here a la Curious George or, say, Quest for Camelot--the problem was that the bills were paid and shots called by people with no. clue. whatsoever. Nada.

To them animators were in practice simply as interchangable as the gaffers and grips on a liveaction shoot. I mean, JUST like that.

And sadly, that same misunderstanding of roles extends (on those same BIG studio pictures--excepting Disney, DW and Pixar)beyond the animators to the story crew, who are reduced to merely illustrating a script as TV artists do instead of the JOB that makes a movie good or better, which is how it's supposed to work. It's pretty terrible to contemplate--and it always seems funnily enough to result in unwatchable films.

Barry A Sanders said...

another factor to consider is the effect of 3D animation. In 3D a character will always look the same because it is always the same computer model, this helps a great deal to smooth over inconsistentcies you get in the acting from multiple animators. Once the pervasive attitude becomes one in which we belive any animator can work with any character it leaks back into hand drwan animation. Or at least it's a thought.

Anonymous said...

Simple, Mark. The studios love CGI since the character never goes off model. It's therefore MUCH easier to farm the work out all over the world to anyone who can make things move around on screen with no worry about consistency of appearance. This is the main reason for the rise of CGI and the demise of hand drawn (not audience preference).
Audience preference also seems to be the reason why cheap, farmed-out features seem to have failed at the box office (VALIANT and HAPPILY N'EVER AFTER were made this way). But nothing will stop greedy producers from attempting to make animated films without those pesky artists. The animator is considered(by these same producers) not a crew member or a trained professional, but a machine that turns out mechanical images.
Of course CURIOUS GEORGE was hand drawn, but it had a poor story and weak (re) design of the characters. Nothing will save a film with a poor foundation no matter what the medium.