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Part 1| Animation and Game Design | (Non-) Essentialism & Stereotypes
The topic I have chosen for my case study is ”feature and show length animation”. This includes animated films and tv shows. I have picked this topic because of the course I have chosen to do (Animation and Game Design) and because of my personal interests in the field of animation.
Animation is a tool used for storytelling. Animation comprises of still images strung together to make a moving picture. Original animation was hand-painted and was very time-consuming. As technology advanced, animation became easier (generated in-between frames and digital composing). We are now at a point where 3D modelling is pleasing to look at, and an easy to use option. 3D modelling can be combined with motion caption suits to streamline the process of animating human movement.
The two topics I am focusing on in this case study are Essentialism/Non-Essentialism and Stereotypes.
Essentialism is the idea that a person has characteristics that are essential to them, and make them part of a group. An example of this is an environmentalist. Environmentalist believe in protecting nature and this reflects in their everyday life, they may pick up litter that is not their own and give random plants a good water.
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Non-Essentialism is the idea that people do not have things essential to them. So, in relation to the example above on environmentalists, you don’t have to be an environmentalist to pick up litter and water plants, anyone can do it. Essentialism and Non-Essentialism are both extreme ends of the essentialist mindset. In everyday life most people adopt a mindset in between these extremes.
Essentialism and Non-Essentialism in Animation. The problem with essentialism in animation is it gives you the same main character across different films and shorts. The essentialism of the main character normally comes down to making them relatable. Their design is generally more basic than other characters. They have hair and eye colour that is more common depending on the location of the audience (e.g. European audiences: brown hair and brown eyes or blond hair and blue eyes). The main character commonly doesn’t have strong emotions or motives and asks a lot of questions as we would. The main character’s purpose is to be your vessel. Because of these traits, the main character can come off as annoying, useless and with no purpose. Examples of this are;
Pokémon: Black & White
Huntik: Secrets & Seekers
Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Not all animations do this but its more common then not, especially if the world the animation is set in is different than our own. The main character in this situation is then usually from our world or one similar.
The other topic I picked is Stereotypes. Stereotyping is the idea of people fitting into moulds. An example of this is the nerd in Western culture. The nerd is smart, but the nerd does not have any social skills, he isn’t athletic or popular and has pimples and braces.
Stereotyping in Animation. Stereotyping in animation is usually used to fill in side characters. This makes the job easier for animators, as they don’t have to flesh out as many characters and have an idea of what they might look like.
Here are some common stereotypes.
The stereotypical villain, who is evil because it’s fun.
The mad scientist, who is smart, can make fantastic inventions and potions, but is unhinged.
The damsel in distress, who is most commonly a young lady, who is very pretty, but is useless when it comes to most situations.
These stereotypes can be helpful when animators are filling in new side characters and adds interest when twisted slightly, but when not, you can end up with the same side characters, that will eventually become boring to an audience.
How to fix essentialism of main characters? With essentialism of the main character, there are many examples of deep thinking or standalone main characters that are done well.
Avatar the Last Airbender
Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
These characters are characters we relate to, because of the emotions they display and personality that make them, them.
How to fix stereotypes of side characters? Side characters can easily become more interesting if they are a twisted stereotype, rather then one off the shelf. Another solution is to spend more time fleshing out the side characters and thinking of new and interesting character traits.
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Animation is a media of creation, that allows us great possibilities in the world of storytelling. Because of its time-consuming nature, some animations are all show and no thought. As technology advances, it becomes easier and faster to deal out animations. Unfortunately, because of its old nature, side characters are still often coming in the form of stereotypes.
The trap of making a main character relatable is causing empty vessels to be the eyes we look through in animation. Eventually we will learn from our mistakes and a new and creative wave of animation will come about.
- Jones, Ben. Batman: The Brave And The Bold. Video. Reprint, Cartoon Network, 2008.
- Junichi, Masuda. Poke’mon: Black & White. Video. Reprint, Oriental Light & Magic Inc., 2011.
- Konietzko, Bryan, and Michael Dante DiMartino. Avatar The Last Airbender. Video. Reprint, Nickelodeon, 2005.
- Lasseter, John. Toy Story. Film. Reprint, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, 1995.
- Moore, Rich. Wreck It Ralph. Film. Reprint, Walt Disney Pictures, 2012.
- Oum, Monty. RWBY. Video. Reprint, Rooster Teeth, 2013.
- Ramsey, Peter, Rodney Rothman, and Bob Persichetti. Spider-Man: Into The Soider-Verse. Film. Reprint, Sony Pictures, 2018.
- Sinterniklaas, Michael. Huntik: Secrets & Seekers. Video. Reprint, Iginio Straffi, 2009.
- Yoshiyuki, Asai. Charlotte. Video. Reprint, P.A.Works and Aniplex, 2015.
- Cartoon Network. Batman The Brave And The Bold Pictures. Image, 2008. https://t2.rbxcdn.com/01cbd43916bf4ed833ceabb5d53af5a2.
- DeStefano, Christopher. Animation Cel Painting. Video, 2015. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Z6lSEEYnWss/hqdefault.jpg.
- Disney. Disney Princess Cliparts. Image. Accessed 20 September 2019. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj-itvNm-bkAhV68HMBHXH-ClgQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fclipart-library.com%2Fdisney-princess-cliparts.html&psig=AOvVaw1ZsFjJa_GVv6bcGAA4LxKY&ust=1569303054787015.
- Iginio Straffi. Lok Lambert. Image, 2009. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/vsbattles/images/b/bd/Lok_Lambert.png/revision/latest?cb=20170928234151.
- N/A. Women Stereotypes. Image. Accessed 20 September 2019. https://storage.googleapis.com/afs-prod/media/afs:Medium:676380014/800.jpeg.
- Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Image, 2005. https://miro.medium.com/max/600/0*QP9P30y1wLLPjib7.png.
- Oriental Light & Magic. Ash And Pikachu. Image, 2011. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/pokemon/images/7/7e/Ash_BW.gif/revision/latest?cb=20100827161543.
- P.A.Works. Yu Otosaka. Image, 2015. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/charlotte-anime/images/0/02/Y%C5%AB_Otosaka.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/155?cb=20150529091413.
- Pixar Animation Studio. Woody. Image, 1995. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/pixar/images/2/2f/1D7D7CBB-0151-4ABE-9661-2CFC3763D1E0.png/revision/latest?cb=20190809221840.
- Rooster Teeth. Ruby Rose. Image. Accessed 20 September 2019. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/blazbluextag/images/f/f1/Ruby_Rose_%28BlazBlue_Cross_Tag_Battle%2C_Character_Select_Artwork%29.png/revision/latest?cb=20190303001713.
- Sony. Miles Morales. Image, 2018. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/p__/images/1/10/Miles_Morales_%28Into_the_Spider-verse%29.png/revision/latest?cb=20190107194113&path-prefix=protagonist.
- Walt Disney Pictures. Wreck-It Ralph. Image, 2012. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/wreckitralph/images/d/dc/Ralph.png/revision/latest?cb=20161113154352.
Part 2| Animation and Game Design | Artwork/Poster
Stereotypes and Essentialism
Damsel in destress
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