Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Song of the Sea

Thanks to reader/commenter Matt Pidgeon, I was pointed to this production blog about another feature film being developed by the Cartoon Saloon- the same folks behind The Secret of Kells. The blog doesn't have a lot of artwork on it yet, but what's there already has me very interested. The picture above says so much. I'm amazed at how these guys weave all those graphical elements into what they do. These celtic touches seem to whisper to the audience that something deeper is happening here. I've been in so many story meetings for features and long form DVD projects over the years and one of the driving themes in American animated film is being absolutely clear about absolutely everything. No mystery allowed. If something comes into the story it must immediately be clearly understood as to why by even the simplest of audience members. Explain everything, and explain it again- just in case. I undersdtand the advantages of laying out clear character goals and desires, but that's not the only valid way of telling a story. The result is a narrative flow that is akin to following a series of known facts leading to a climax. How much more interesting- and rewarding- would an animated feature film be if instead of following a trail of revealed facts in pursuit of a goal clearly established in act 1 we instead follow a trail of unknown mysteries trying to answer a greater mystery presented in act 1? What I can pick up on the the story about Song of the Sea reminds me of The Secret of Roan Innish a bit- which is one of my favorite films. I just love that sense of mystery and magic that all these films seem to so easily have. It lends a sense of timelessness, substance, texture. American films just don't have this at all. We're big, boom, bold, brash and (for the most part) very temporary. American animated films are like cotton candy at a county fair. Which is OK, but sometimes you want something a little... different.


James C Ditmer said...

I am always intrigued when you post about the work being done from overseas. Its nice to see how differently stories are told. I have to agree with your statements here that I would love to see more mystery and less explaining in obvious ways in the animation here in the states. I look forward to seeing more on this film in particular. Thanks again for your thoughts Keith.

jim said...

Great stuff, Keith. Reminds me of our brief discussion a few months ago, not just about mystery of story but visuals as well. The assumption that everything needs to be animated on 1's, the march toward photorealism and more visual "noise", etc... it's pretty overwhelming.

I really wish an American filmmaker would trust us enough to make us use our imaginations. For me, Don Hertzfeldt comes the closest... his stick figures and limited motion force us to project so much onto the character. It's challenging and rewarding at the same time.

moa said...

Hi Keith!! I'm agrre to your ideas a lot !!! Since i decide a began an animator, have a little bit different films and histories to make a any aproach versus Disney style.

I follow your blog to have informations and sensations to my study in animation just because this way was a past to my mind.
Those guys of Cartoon Saloon give us a magic poison on this feature!!!
So beautful, it's so soft and lovely characters!!!

We salute the studio CARTOOn Saloon!!


Dave said...

I can't wait to see "Secret of Kells" and the new one "Song of the Sea" looks very interesting , too. Thanks for the link to the production blog.

Great to see some people really pushing the stylistic boundaries of 2D in feature films instead of always looking over their shoulder at the past .