June 26, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Slow Animation VS. Fast Animation


You’ve heard it on commercials. “How do we make such great deals? Volume, Volume, VOLUME!” With volume we can make things for less money.

Yes, we have volume animated series on TV. Some are great. Some are not so great. But they fill up the vast vacuums of TV air time. I created and produced a couple. They are made in what turn out to be factories. Assembly lines. They can be fun, and they can be grueling. They can turn enthusiastic young artists into old cynical burnt out chain smokers. The fans get their fix, new episodes. Entertainment that sometimes lives on in an audiences mind and childhood memories for decades. That’s rewarding.

When you are in it, you live on adrenaline. Your families fall apart. Friendships suffer. Health suffers. You get chewed up, and sometimes spit out where people acknowledge “He has nothing left. Lets find some new blood and start all over.” The harder you try to make something worthwhile to put on TV, and not just filler, the harder the process is. You are at work long after the executives go home. You make good money for a short time. Half goes to the IRS, the other half to your ex-wife. You get to keep the rest.

I’m not meaning to turn this into a negative rant. I’m grateful for the education and opportunities life has given me.

But there is also a place for slow animation. Animation that takes more time. Yes, you tweak it a little more. There is more time that comes between films. The first “Wallace and Grommit ” took Nick Park 10 years to make. Some 10 to 20 minute films take years to make. Does the media stimulated attention span of animation fans have the patience?

Yes. There is an audience. It may not be the same audience that watches cartoons on TV or talking unicorns on YouTube. It’s art. And yes, volume animation is art with a different canvas and the money ( hopefully) to hire a team of amazing talent to work side by side with.

There is fast food, and there is slow food. The quality of my life is much better when I make something slowly. I keep wives and have time for my kids. The money isn’t as good. But that also decreases my consumerism and steers me into living on a tight budget.

There is also something to be said for creating something that you don’t need to ask permission of a giant conglom-O media company whether you can show it, or use it’s characters for something.

Have I turned into that old cynical burnt out chain smoking animator? Aside from not being a smoker, that’s  what I’m trying not to be. I may be a little cynical ( I think I always have ) but I’m not burnt out. Just picky how I spend my time. Life is too short.

Find the balance.

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4 Responses to June 26, 2012

  1. Christian A. says:

    As a young cartoonist/animator, I have always been inspired by your animations (especially Rocko). Slow animation (although not always) turns out to be the best. I’m trying to come up with show ideas myself, I’ve been doing this for a year or so. It might take me 20 years, but overall I believe that quality is the most important factor. Did you ever have a cartoon that was classified as ‘slow animation’? I’d like to know.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  2. Nichole says:

    i love this post. in my industry, some of my work is production driven—bill, bill, bill. i don’t do well on those projects. but some of them, we put a lot of thought and intention into them. we craft, construct, think, draft, ask questions. those types of projects are our best work.

    and those lessons i learn in my work, i take to my life. it’s not a radical shift, but a gentle nudge in a more holistic direction.

    thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Ben Jen says:

    Many Japanese animation shows for mass consumption on TV are produced so quickly that they outpace the manga (comics) they are based on. So the producers have to make “filler” (extra episode depicting stories not in the original work – sometimes original plotlines, sometimes empty “beach” episodes) or they make a brand new story altogether and diverge from the source work.

  4. Wow. This is a really inspirational and meaningful post to read. I was at work today, and while things were slow decided to go back over your blog since I am a bit outdated on it, and came across this post. it’s hard to imagine all that you have gone through, when I haven’t even made it into the industry yet, and feel like I’ve already began to struggle with these things. I guess you weren’t kidding at ALL when you told me you understood and related to me, last winter when my boyfriend and I after 5 years of living together split up, and my art was one of the biggest things blamed. It is hard to learn balance, and it is something I am still struggling to learn. Art has been my passion since I was 2 and started finger painting. I was always ahead of the class and advanced for my age, and always had one toe in reality and the majority of my body in some distant world. I still have trouble concentrating, and not imagining, and know I can only function if I am able to be creative in my life. But how to balance relationship, family, friends, AND art is a craft in its own. You are truly an inspiration and I hope I can learn to master both.

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