Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Soapbox: The Truth of Animation for Me

I think I may turn this post into a real blog kinda post today, pop onto a soapbox. But I've been inspired by my Q 'n' A session with my mentor tonight. Steve had us working out an animation stew tonight. Basically we started putting in all the ingredients that make up animation as a whole. Then we started to boil it down and we came to the essence of what Steve's personal Truth of Animation, and what animation boils down to at it's simplest form. And I love hearing Steve ramble on about animation and ideals like this, but I really did start to think about this myself after he posed the question to us: What is the truth about animation for you?

I'll start with what Steve eventually directed us to. After throwing out all of our ingredients and mixing them over the heated pot, he began to help us start narrowing in by asking what makes animation, or any movie, stick with you. What makes something you see on screen stick in your brain afterward? My response was the visuals; the other two responses he took out was connection with the viewer, and memorable characters. These three variables are key in making a film stick. These are not the only things, by any means, but can be pretty darn big. The visuals are what the audience is physically going to see, obviously. A strong setting or effect will immediately stand out and set itself apart from the norm. Then connection with the viewer. The acting and dialogue of and between the characters should be relate able. Something that a character says that strikes a chord with an experience that an audience member has been through creates a connection between the two that is easily recalled. And lastly there are memorable characters. Uniqueness stands out. Characters need to be themselves, and not someone else. That sentence sounds weird, but it really is the truth. Everything is BASED off of something else, but this doesn't mean that it has to BE that something else. A character should be a collection of their experiences, melded into their own innate personality.

Steve wanted to boil it down further. What is a movie? Moving pictures. Pictures in motion. Each frame of film is a piece of art in and of itself. It can be taken out of sequence and broken down as a still image, but then works in tandem with the images before and after it. Each frame depicts the subject clearly, and displays the character's state of mind, what action they are performing, and even their thought processes internally driving the performance. Animation is characters in motion, placed upon a timeline. So it all boils down to POSES IN TIME. Poses. In. Time. To Steve (at least for this day or so, haha), this is the truth of animation. Animation is the depiction of a character acting over a specific amount of time. Each pose works by itself, and is clearly and easily readable. Then these poses are placed back to back over a timeline and played, creating a sequence in which the animators drawings can come to life. These drawings can now tell a story, and portray a character that can FEEL real.

I completely agree with Steve, this is such a crucial portion of animation. Posing. It's one of the 12 Principles even. Poses in time are essential to what animation is. But does this envelope the truth of animation for me? Not completely.

Steve told us never to take anything someone teaches you at face value. It's never the know-all-end-all. Everyone is their own person, and we all interpret things completely differently. I feel like the reason Steve's definition isn't complete for me is because I interpret the original question differently. What is the truth in animation for me? I feel as though Steve's answer is more physical, it's a tangible truth. But for me, the question begs an emotional answer more so than a physical one.

And thus the purpose for this post! Haha. How do I answer what animation's truth is for me? I've thought about this for a bit now, and I think part of the answer is what draws me to animation, and what makes me want to do this so much. I originally got into animation from a story writing perspective. I came up with stories that I wanted to share with the world somehow, and I eventually settled on animation being the best possible outlet to meet that end. I have all these ideas in my brain, and they want out. They want to be shared. I want a story that I've concocted to impact someone else in a way similar to how they affect me.

Animation is an artform; it's an outlet for so many people's creativity. Animation is not a single man's job. No one wakes up and just draws a few images and creates gold. You need to learn how to sketch, how to convey an idea through the picture, how to stitch these images together, what the cinematics of the shot are. All of this stuff and then some. It doesn't just come to people naturally. You have to pick up on it from somewhere else, then use your creativity to help explore.

I feel as though I've rambled a bit now, so let me get back on course. At the heart of all animation, to me, is creativity. Thoughts. Ideas. Piqued interests. Experiences. IMAGINATION. Imagination is the greatest tool creativity has. Animation is one tool that creativity has to be shared with the outside world. It's a fun, constantly changing outlet for people to share their ideas and stories with others. Animation is never the same twice. It will never look the same twice. It will never sound the same twice. It will never have the same characters twice. It will never be interpreted the same way by two people. It's so much fun! Flsafjdhlasfgh! It's such an amazing thing that we've gotten ahold of. I love creating, and I love seeing what other people's creativity yields.

So the bottom line, and probably what you've been waiting for me to say this whole time. What is the truth of animation for me? In my mind, the truth of animation, is the ability to share your creativity with the world around you in a way that is only limited by your imagination.

*Drops mic, steps down, and walks out.*