Animation Entertainment Games
The subject of animation as a whole has always been a fascination of mine since an early age - however, not always as a career involvement, but rather because I enjoyed watching many cartoons and drawing an innumerable amount of cartoon characters including ‘The Looney Toons', ‘Tom and Jerry' and ‘Top Cat'. I also played a lot of video games and was especially fascinated with the increasing complexity in techniques and effects of the new and different game consoles over the years. I noticed that from my first console, the ‘Game boy', to my second, the ‘Sega Saturn', that there was the addition of colour, a connection to television making the images larger, and that the graphics had improved incredibly, all of which had made my playing experience all the more real.
Like many designers however, I initially viewed the general career aspect of animation as a second-rate environment - too defined by its limitations for real expression. I felt stifled by frames, the limited colours, and multiple other things that were always changing, especially softwares. It's a medium that can be both frustrating and intimidating.
It was when I found out that animation is not merely a single subject of bringing cartoons to life, but rather a diverse field with a multitude of topics - topics that are used everywhere and are not just for entertainment purposes only but also there to shape the way we think. A Czech Surrealist animator (Jan Svankmajer, 1996), said: “Animation enables me to give magical powers to things. In my films, I move many objects, real objects. Suddenly, everyday contact with things which people are used to acquire a new dimension and in this way casts a doubt over reality. In other words, I use animation as a means of subversion” Quite rightly said. Animation can redefine the everyday; challenge our conventional notions of ‘reality' and can defy the orthodox everyday understanding and acceptance of our existence. I may be slightly overstating here but animation can also, in a way, defy the laws of gravity, challenge our perceived view of space and time and convert inert images into pulsating movement bursting with life.
McGraw Hill (2003, p13), states seven basic animations categories:
- Hollywood feature films
- TV commercials
- Televised entertainment
- Home videos
- Business communications
My particular interest lies in televised entertainment and games for the reasons explained earlier. However, all of these topics are usually highly competitive in terms of marketing and require persistence and dedication entirely in order to be successful. Considering these various complications, it therefore took me a long time to reassure myself that this was the field I wanted to work in.
The fact is that we will always be challenged to change and adapt as long as we remain involved in designing for this medium. Still, something happened to me as an amateur designer when I began designing for one of my course projects involving Macromedia Flash. Those limitations I came across, the very things that I complained about, have shaped me into the designer that I am today and a potential one that I could be in the near future. I have begun to love creating my own animation videos now to expound my opinions, illustrations and ideas. Also, finding the possibilities within the limitations has helped me focus. I now look first at identifying the essentials - those elements that demand to be included in order to communicate my message visually.
Although there are various topics in the field of animation, complications and difficulties are still present in most of them. For instance, televised entertainment; this includes TV shows that use 3-D animation and composited effects as part of their weekly fare. This is probably a very expensive market, but it is still possible to create low budget shows. For example, Mike Judge did that with Beavis and Butt-head (Figure 1); he used primitive 2-D cell animation instead of sophisticated 3-D computer techniques. Nevertheless, the biggest expense is usually the voices; this is why Mike Judge did several of his own.
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