Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Late Night Synchrolux

TAG President Kevin Koch holds forth at Synchrolux and here. He's far more immersed in the animation biz than I am at present ... (I'm the union rep; he's the president working in the cartoon industry)  ... so we share some of his recent posts. (Click the links below for the full articles.)

Story Development in Animated Features

... The story building process typically lasts two or three full years for an animated feature, but there’s a lot of variation, and in some cases it stretches out much, much longer. That’s 2-3 years of dedicated work by a team that usually involves a director or two, a few writers, a team of story artists, and several visual development artists and character designers (at least at the big studios). Often that several-year period of intense development work is preceded by more years of development by one person or a few people who either originated the concept or are trying to make the concept salable or ready for full development ...

Partly Cloudy and G-Force

... Partly Cloudy. This Pixar short seems to have gotten a lot less attention than previous Pixar shorts. Maybe it’s because Partly Cloudy hearkens back to Dumbo and a seemingly simpler and gentler style. If you ignore the technical accomplishments, it is a lot less showy than most short-form animation these days. But that’s what blew me away — the submersion of very difficult and impressive technological accomplishments into a beautiful, evocative piece that never showed off its technical merits for their own sake, but instead told a layered, heartfelt story....

Wall-E: When Theme and Plot Get Out of Sync

... [L]et’s start with a film that many called the best film of 2008. It was not only glowingly reviewed, but it won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. I enjoyed the film, but found it flawed. Given the reviews and success, I’m clearly seeing a problem where most others don’t, but bear with me.

My issue, put simply, is that the film’s theme was revealed and resolved early, robbing the remainder of the film of meaning. Put another way, by climaxing and resolving the theme about half way through the movie, it ended up feeling like two distinct, shorter episodes welded together, with the first one quite a bit more compelling than the second. ...


Anonymous said...

Wall-E's problem is the same many American films have, animated and otherwise. There's something impatient with the exploration of narrative, something about the pace, the clip of filmmaking in LA that turns the other cheek when challenged to mine deeper. Rarely does a film mine all the way to a core that suspends and spans 90 minutes. One of the most beautiful aspects of Wall-E was that, for all intents and purposes, humanity was dead. The film could have reached it's full potential were that theme followed through to it's true end - committed to, box office be damned. The u-turn away from the core theme was where the second film began and the original, that began so beautifully, died.

Anonymous said...

"American Films????" That's a broad stroke! Please feel free to go (back) to wherever it is you think they've got storytelling mastered.

Unfortunately, I do agree with you about this particular film. After brilliantly establishing an original and powerful mood tone and style, Wall-E pulls the rug out from under you. It's not just a change of location, but a change of reality, almost as startling as in Monkeybone.

Bringing humans into the story is not in itself the problem. They should have been brought, however, into the reality that had already been established.

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