Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just DRAW!!.. wussies..

As I finish up my next hand drawn film, a popular comment I get when people visit my office at NYU is.. "wow.. I didn't know anyone did that anymore".. the comment gives me mixed feelings. As I draw, I'm well aware that I'm practicing a method that not many do anymore.. but.. allow me to submit that we will see more and more of it. I had several students comment the other day that they wished the school had more hand drawn curriculum. (below: the beast from my personal animation art collection.. rad)The reason it resonates is because people are yearning for something REAL in animation.. How many regurgitated formulas and polished digital techno puppets can people take? This is why Coraline rocked.. it looked real! it had living texture. "Princess and the Frog" looks like crap because Disney refuses to embrace the hand drawn medium, like they did with their older films, especially the xerography films like Jungle book and 101 Dalmatians. Those master works were un-apologetically DRAWN. "Princess and the Frog" may as well be Computer Generated! I feel like it's trying to compete with CG.. when in reality, drawn animation is an entirely different medium!! Why would they polish good drawings to the point where all the soul is removed from the line?? At the end of the day, drawings look cool.. and they're even cooler if you know that they actually exist as drawings. (Below: Drawing of a masked man still on the pegs, light on)
The simple fact: A drawing is REAL. It exists. You can pick it up and handle it. It is a one of a kind artifact. A digital drawing can be reproduced to infinity, thereby decreasing it's value. It lacks true texture and real touch. When the power is off, a digital piece of artwork literally ceases to exist. A film that depends on digital images is built on something weak, no matter how good the result is (just look at how much the Pixar books tout the hand drawn development art). Everybody knows the value of hand drawn, but everybody is also intimidated by drawing.. so most love the fact that computers have put their imprint onto something they couldn't comprehend anyway. (Below: Drawing from "The Wall")In the immortal words of Danny Antonucci (tattooed on his arm) "F--- DIGITAL, DRAW!"


  1. I can't agree more, Pat. I've yearned for more hand drawn courses at UArts and yes Karl Stave and Chris Magee are both hand drawn animators and they increasingly insist on us trying the medium out but it's just funny because we keep on adding these classes "Interactive Animation" or 3D Modeling, etc. Right now I'm doing a hand rotoscoped piece for my senior film. I'm printing my images frame for frame and doing some cool things! I can't wait to see Mask when it's out! Keep on drawing and keep on posting!

  2. Obviously I agree as well, hand drawn images/cels/etc will always look better and be way cooler. ----I say that as I work on my next short film which is being done 95% in the computer, :( Sigh----

    Did you know the newest Miyazaki movie "Ponyo" was done entire on animation cels? He did it that way just because "he thought it looks better and employs more people." (cel painters etc)

    (His producers told him to NEVER do that again, haha .. but its Miyazaki so I`m sure he`ll do whatever he wants WHENever he wants)

    PS Do you own that "THE WALL" drawing too!?!?!??

  3. lmao does antonucci really have such a tatoo on his arm? arent the later episodes of ed edd n eddy drawn in flash?

    anyway i agree to an extent. yes, hand-drawn animation is a lot cooler and a lot more real than digital, but a lot of artists like me are dirt poor. as much as i'd love to throw away my tablet and do everything traditionally, i simply cant afford it.

    in the meantime, ill just keep using flash. its a horrible buggy crappy software that im glad i didnt pay for, but it allows me to at least make something entertaining.

    ps: isnt frog princess by some knockoff company? or are you refering to princess and the frog sarcastically?

  4. I agree with you on just about everything. I wish Disney would release a film that used the rough animation. It's far more interesting than cleanup.
    Drawings are organic, they seem more alive than even the very best CGI. But as you say, it is another medium. Both have their virtues and their failings.

  5. Heh, it's really amazing how everyone reacts when they hear someone does traditional animation. Most of the time when I would tell my friend's parents what I was going to school for, I got the same reaction. "so, what are you going to do after college" or "They still do that?" But, it's encouraging that for every three responses that are like that, I get "Oh, that's fucking awesome!" So. I guess the enthusiasm of the people who want to see more if it will eventually outweight the people who think it's not "cost effective" or "outdated".

    It's better than the response of "Oh so, do you want to work for Disney" Yes. If I could travel BACK in time.

  6. As an educator I say that like other fields, animation and visual communication has a foundation language and drawing is a huge part of this foundation if not an outlet for an entire lifetime. It's sad to see someone miss the basic foundations of a language, but I've also seen some students hopelessly struggle and painfully endure years of drawing and then they run into that digital toolset that finally lets them illustrate their ideas, whereas they would have no chance to do it with those tried and true analog methods.

    Just an observation, but I do whip them with drawing until eyes and fingers bleed when time allows. It also establishes at the least an appreciation of "other" methods from the learners' perspectives where digital is the standard in the present position of trends.

  7. Thats exactly how I feel about stop motion i love it because a puppet is something tangible and real and hand crafted from wood and glue, metal and latex!! Great blog!

  8. Henry Thurlow said...
    "Did you know the newest Miyazaki movie "Ponyo" was done entire on animation cels? He did it that way just because "he thought it looks better and employs more people." (cel painters etc) "

    I'm not sure where you heard that , but that is not the case.

    I think you may have misunderstood from hearing that Miyazaki insisted that all of Ponyo's animation be done by hand with "no computers" , which meant no CG animation in the film , however that does not mean that no computers were used in the production of the film. Ponyo was all hand-drawn, but the animation drawings were then scanned and colored in a digital ink & paint program .

    I can't think of anyone still using cels , except for Mark Kausler on his short film "It's The Cat!" and his still-in- production follow-up film "There's Got to Be Another Cat" . Even our hosts Mr. Smith and Mr. Plympton use digital ink & paint programs, so I guess you could say that their drawings cease to exist in reality once they've been scanned and colored (those colored drawings are only digital 1's and 0's , and when the power is turned off they cease to exist. )

  9. "Mr. Smith and Mr. Plympton use digital ink & paint programs, so I guess you could say that their drawings cease to exist in reality once they've been scanned and colored"

    CORRECT YOU ARE!! but the drawings exist, in a one of a kind state, until they are burned or lost, or eaten by acid... or shredded.. or vomited on and then shredded. the point is that the ARTWORK is created non-digitally.. I like to view the computer as a REALLY kick ass camera.

  10. Dave: I certainly didn`t work on Ponyo so I don`t know for 100% certain, but even a year before Ponyo came out I read reports that said the one really cool thing about Ponyo would be that Miyazaki is insisting it be made entirely with cels. These 3 reviews as well as the Cartoon Brew review forums also mention that it was cel animation.

    BTW Sazae-san (basically the Japanese Simpsons) is the Last cartoon still being made (at least in Japan) on animation cels. The company refuses to change since thats the way the long running show (has been airing since the 60`s) has always been made.

  11. Henry -

    Ponyo was drawn by hand on paper, paper drawings scanned and then colored in a digital ink & paint program called Toonz , just like every Ghibli feature film since Princess Mononoke (1997)

    Again, I think the confusion in those articles you refer to comes from someone who is not familiar with traditional animation processes reading that Miyazki had decreed "no computer animation" on Ponyo and they are misusing the term "cel" to refer to an individual unit of animation artwork (i.e. a drawing) , but in fact a drawing and a cel are not the same thing. The fact that digitally colored hand-drawn animation is indistinguishable from the look of traditional cel animation makes people confused because what they see in a digitally-colored film like Ponyo doesn't look much different to the untrained eye than what they see in a movie like My Neighbor Totoro , which used cels.

  12. I was just contacted by a producer who asked whether I knew of any students who 'were passionate about drawing' since he had a major project in the offing.
    It's ridiculous to say that CGI killed off hand drawn animation; it's never gone away. It's just suitable for different things.