Tuesday November 27, 2012 – FILM LECTURE
Today’s topic: Animated film
Term not at issue in mid-term: Last one from the list (do not bother with it)
A documentary is committed to a creative treatment of actuality.
Avant-garde cinema rejects established cinematic conventions to expand the possibilities
In addition to narrative form, a film can take non-narrative forms.
Documentary forms can be rhetorical, categorical or narrative
Avant-garde can be narrative, abstract or associational
A film can be a mix of two or more forms (avant-garde can incorporate associational and
Animation is typically characterized by at least one of the 2 following attributes:
The presentation of imagery that has no “real-world” status beyond the filmic
The creation of movement through a succession of individual static images
Georges Méliès’ “A trip to the Moon” = first film to offer the possibility of narrative
development. The film retreats from reality to a reality of its own invention. The diegetic
world has a fantastic nature. Magical effects are created through superimposition
(layering of images – fades or dissolves used for superimpositions) and stop motion
(involves the creation of motion on a frame-by-frame basis. In “A Trip to the Moon”, the
filmmaker creates transformations through stop motion to produce a fantastic/magical
In many cases, the imagery in animation is not photographically rendered. Often
animation is drawn (cell animation) or cutout directly on the film.
The reality of the film is not photographically rendered since it is synthetic. Computer
animation and direct animation (when celluloid is very present, we draw, scratch, paint
on the actual film) avoid photography altogether. Today, digital projection has become
more and more popular (some films are made without celluloid at all).
In Dog Star Man we had direct animation (the celluloid was manipulated – scratched -
after having been used to photograph images)
More and more, people turn towards the process of direct animation, which is direct
response to the increased digitization of film (people do not want to give way to the
digital revolution, they are holding on to celluloid and producing direct animation)
We also have clay animation (claymation) or puppet/model animation.
Creation of movement through individual static images (or stop motion): In inanimate
object (such as a puppet) can be put into motion through stop motion. Thus stop motion
creates the illusion of movement. With live action, we have an initial movement that is
broken down on film, and then recreated during the projection. In animation, the
movement is not reconstituted, but constituted entirely.
“Meat Love” – short film, example of pixilation. In this film, stop motion is used to
created movement. Pixilation involves a 3-D object or a figure (it is a type of stop
motion). Norman McLaren on animation: “Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but
rather the art of movements that are drawn. What happens between each frame is more
important than what happens on each frame”. The difference that exists between the 2
frames or shots produces the movement.
Animation is often constructed so that it appears to work with the many conventions
examined earlier in the semester. For example, in “Shrek”, the world is constructed in a
familiar way. Everything is rendered legible by simulating techniques like shot reverse
shot, an establishing shot which calls for crane movement and a sound mix that privileges
dialogue over any other kind of sound in the film.
What the animated film does is create an impression of the techniques just mentioned. It
is important to bear in mind the attributes of animation. Often we can use the vocab
recruited in course to talk about animation, but then we talk about what we perceive
rather than what is at order.
Why is metamorphosis so defining of animation? Welles says that metamorphosis is “the
constituent core of animation itself. Means it is possible to create a fluid linkage of
images through animation itself rather than editing”. We can think about metamorphosis
as morphing, but this term is associated solely to metamorphosis employed in digital
Films we will see engage in process of metamorphosis: they conflate horror and humor,
dream and reality, certainty and speculation.
Today’s program: The theme grounding the selection of films is metamorphosis.
Animation lends itself well to experimental cinema.