Friday, 12 November 2010

Critical Study (Animation Industry)

Gertie the Dinosaur, 1914

This short film animated by American cartoonist Winsor McCay shows a friendly playful dinosaur called Gertie. This keyframe animation was made in 1914 consisting of thousands of frames on sheets of rice paper. This was McCays third animated film, after the first being 'Little Nemo' made in 1911, and the second animation 'How a Mosquito Operates' in 1912. Gertie the dinosaur was one of its kind in that time, as the character Gertie showed a personality of its own and this was the first film to use keyframe animation.

Throughout production McCay received help from his neighbour who traced the backgrounds onto rice paper, while McCay did all the drawings of Gertie. 10,000 frames were inked and mounted onto cardboard for flipping through a machine to make sure his animation works. McCay also created techniques, such as cycling which later were used in the animation industry as a standard.
In February 1914 McCay performed alongside Gertie in his vaudeville act in Chicago. This was unique to McCay as he was engaging with the animation he created, he had a whip and would seem in control of Gertie, throughout the film he would ask Gertie to act out certain actions. It would seem that Gertie had its own 'soul' by being playful and expressing his emotions such as curiosity, sadness and playfulness. McCays animation was a huge success and Gertie became one of the first cartoon stars.

I find it quite amazing as to how McCay created this animation, with crisp lines and the correct form with movement. This work was definately one of its kind at that time and set the foundation for the future for all animations.

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, 2005

Final Fantasy Advent Children is a science fiction film made in 2005. It was directed by Tetsuya Nomura and produced by Yoshinori Kitase along with Shinji Hashimoto. Advent Children was made as a sequel to the highly successful console game Final Fantasy 7 which was made in 1997.
The film developed by Square Enix and Visual works, consists of computer animated technology using motion capture. The film was released in 2005 in Japan, and a year later in North America and Europe. Advent Children had received positive views, selling over 2.4 million copies worldwide and was awarded best anime feature in the 2007 'American Anime Awards'. The original idea was to make Advent Children a video game sequel to the popular Final Fantasy VII game, but due to limitations from various things and the fact that 'Visual works' is a computer generated company, and not a company who creates games. The creators had no knowledge about making a feature length movie, hence they used their knowledge of the in-game movies to create this film. 

In an interview for Playstation magazine (2003) Tetsuya Nomura talks about the production:
'First of all, we started off from the project that Visual Works was handling, but they can't make a game on their own. We tried to see if we could make it into a game, but it wasn't possible due to a number of factors. As a result, we decided to stick with the original plan and work on it as a movie production. The development isn't too different from the way we make movies that get used in our games, but our schedule is a bit tight. We need to keep the cost down since it's not a game, but [we still need to] maintain high quality.'

The story of Advent Children shows 'Cloud' as the protagonist, following the after effects of a big battle in Final Fantasy VII and how he settles into a depression state, this could be due to many factors, one being due to a disease he caught or because he feels the guilt for losing his friend and the love of his life, his feelings are symbolised by a grey wolf who appears when he thinks about them. Throughout the course of this film, there are many scenes showing battles in an unrealistic manner and the general atmosphere is quite mysterious, as they didn't want to go for a realistic look, rather a balance between realism and unrealistic values. A lot of the scenes used motion capture but a scene which was unable to be done by humans, was done by hand. The production of Advent Children had problems along the way, as getting the characters designed into a 'realistic look' using only the character designs from the Final Fantasy VII game made in 1997, made it quite dificult.

In an interview for a Japanese Magazine Tetsuya Nomura said the following in response to
  'Looking at the visuals, it’s turning out to be a production with a mysterious atmosphere, with there being what seems to be a fusion between non-realistic and realistic styles.'
Nemura: 'A fusion you say… well, I guess it might be. With there being a very fine balance that is, in any case, hard to put into words. If it became either more realistic or non-realistic, the present balance would probably be lost. It’s something that’s different also from your usual animation, I guess you could call it a new genre.

I found Advent Children very enjoyable with the sense of atmosphere and mood which was conveyed brilliantly. One of the things i enjoy the most is the fact that it is half way between realism and unrealism, setting that sense of mood in that enviroment is quite unique and somewhat new of this modern era.

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