ACTING for ANIMATORS
ED'S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:
Animators Working with Animators
There are more animators than there are jobs, but you don't need me to tell you that. The reason I bring it up is because, if you are not on the payroll of a big studio, this may be a good time to think about tossing in your lot with other animators in the same situation. Animators working together can be an empowering and formidable force in the industry.
Last month, I conducted a master class in Stockholm, on the invitation of Mad Crew, a 4-person boutique studio whose founders describe themselves as "a happy bunch of animators". We had a terrific time, and I was impressed with the calibre of talent in attendance. Mad Crew opened it up and other top animators took part. Mad Crew is an example of what animators can do on their own, and its success is instructive. I am reminded of a Dallas, Texas, organization called A Bunch of Short Guys, who similarly joined forces. In their case, they formed an animation guild, the objective being to bring more animation work into Texas. I taught for them a couple of times when they were getting off the ground and was similarly impressed. Talented people getting together with other talented people can accomplish a lot, even if those people are not on contract with a studio. This is something for all of the readers of this newsletter to think about. For a little bit of guidance, check out the respective websites of these organizations, to see how they have done it. And a midnight-sun high five to all wonderful animators in Stockholm. I couldn't ask for better hosts!
The Power of Self Expression
Here is something very special, a short (3:05) 2D Conte animated dance interpretation of a song entitled "World Spins Madly On," sung by The Weepies. It is simple, clear and elegant, and it evokes powerful emotion. The animator is Ryan Woodward. It is called Thought of You (If my subscribers in China cannot access this link, contact me and I will try to find another way to share the animation with you.)
On the home page of his website, Ryan explains his motivation for creating this work: "For the past 15 years, most of my artwork has been viewed in a commercial venue…Hollywood. This project, an exhibition of figurative works and experimental animation, leaves behind my traditional artistic preferences of the narrative and enters the realm of individual interpretation."
I hope he doesn't totally abandon narrative, but what I hear in his words is what I hear continually, whereever I teach and meet animators. There is an unfortunate conflict between the search for employment and the need for personal expression. This month's craft notes were originally going to be about Disney's new movie Tangled, but you know what? Ryan Woodward's little animation moves me much more than Tangled. The animators that worked on the mega-feature are supremely talented, the best of the best, but they are making their living in the construction business more than art. On one level, they are sort of like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, caught in a massive and impersonal contraption that is designed to create more contraptions. I, too, have spent my time in that machine, and I understand. Ryan Woodward's lovely animation springs from his fundamental need to express himself as an artist, and I am glad he did.
Now, to this animation. Why do we respond to it so strongly? If you play it with the sound muted, you will discover that the emotional experience is also muted. Therefore, we can confidently presume that humans have a unique relationship with one another through music. It is also true that we are hard wired by nature to appreciate synchronized, rythmic movement.
Thought of You is totally shamanistic, which is a key reason it packs such a punch. Dance and music are basic assertions of human life that can be traced to our earliest origins, 9,000 years at least. They were part of tribal ritual, non-verbal communication, a way to pass along myths from one generation to another. It is very probable that we sang and danced before we had language. Dance and song are both signals of health, vitality, sexuality, intelligence, spirituality. We see dancers, and we see ourselves with our most fertile and exhuberant potential. Mr. Woodward has captured human "need" more than "want". All of the movement springs from deeply felt impulses and emotion. Dance is ecstatic, and the fact that he could create this with Conte sticks and some blank paper makes the animation doubly impressive.
I am grateful to my friend Duane Molitor for leading me to Ryan's work. It is a special joy to come across an artist who can communicate with such clarity and honesty. This is a lovely year-end gift to us all. It would be worthwhile for you to review Ryan Woodward's comments about how and why he came to create his animation. And while you are at it, here are the lyrics to "World Spins Madly On."
Until next year ...
"Actors and Animators are Shamans!"
Copyright © 2012-2016 Ed Hooks