Monday, October 30, 2006

The Manufactured Image: 25 Assembly Accidents

Continuing our discussion of the manufactured image, I’m not willing to go the easy road and say the artists, animators, technicians, designers or whomever just suck and that’s that. It’s not that simple, and more so, it’s not true. For me this is a discussion about what I think are some core problems with how stuff gets made in the manufacture/assemble paradigm. Personally if I’m going to be ballsy enough to call out a whole system then I need to do better than pick on one image. Thus in an effort to back up my ideas I want to show that the problem isn’t limited to just Shrek 3.
I’m sure on this point many will disagree with me, but here are some stills from various recent CG animated films that I think are good examples of what I call assembly accidents. I just grabbed these off the net after doing some quick searches. In doing this I am not trying to say that I think these films are bad, nor am I saying I could do anything in them any better. And it isn’t my intention to call out any individual artists or TD’s. For the most part the individual artists did very fine jobs on their specific task or element. In some examples I actually know some of the people involved and I know they did their level best they could and made some nice parts- they just weren’t responsible for the whole. I doubt anybody really was- thus the accidents.
No, these images are merely examples of the kind of visual accidents that are bound to happen under the current manufacture/assemble production paradigm that rules big budget Cg films. And this is not to say that these images aren’t good, either. Some of them still work pretty well. It’s just they have a few things that aren’t clear due to the accidents of assembly.

Check out the examples after the jump…

1) Where does the squirrel end and the rocks begin?


2) The bgrd directly behind the characters is unfortunately the most visually complex part of the bgrd. The lines all muddle the performance. Shift the characters to the screen left a bit on top of the quieter visual space there and this would be better.

3) Too many competing lines. Try the “Squint Test” (clear images work on a macro level even when viewed all blurry)


4) Color similarities between characters and background makes reading this a bit tricky.

5) Ditto, especially for the boy and the paper.

6) Top of image is ok, but the ant emerges from the boy’s gut like “Alien” due to tonal similarities of armor and ant color.


7) When saturation and tonal hegemony ruled the land


8) No comment.

9) Not bad, really. It’s a nice image. But how about if you put the yellow character over the blue bgrd and the blue character over the yellow bgrd to help them separate better? Plus the smaller character in front of the tire sculpture would be clearer. Right now it looks like there are tires stacked on top of the yellow car.

10) The crowd overpowers the scene, making it difficult to read the ball in the player’s hand. Tinting the whole crowd a similar hue to push them back and unify them into a single idea of a crowd would help.

11) Another case of a nice layout that could have been a little stronger. Put the darkly dressed boy on the left where the bgrd is light and the brightly dressed girl over the dark bgrd to the right. Just to add balance and separation from the bgrd a bit.

12) A little hard to read what’s what. Squint test.

13) Under the squint test Dory almost disappears.

14) I gots me the blues, baby. (foreground and background mush)

15) I generally love the look of the Ice Age films, but even they suffer their share of assembly accidents. In a lot of ways this shot works well, but the foreground character disappears into the mammoth. Silhouette on the armadillo character is nicely done, though.

16) Foreground works very well, but the darker shading lines in the background compete and disrupt the flow.


17) Trees behind E compete with her dark silhouette. Tree behind Bob crowds his face and breaks the staging space between the characters. Great pose on Bob, tho.

18) Another one so close. Mr. Incredible? Great! Syndrome? Lost.


19) Visual overload.

20) TMI.

21) Where does Rodney end and the machine begin?


22) The disappearance of RJ. AKA: Put the SUV in the garage.


23) Another close one. I like the facial expressions here- very appealing. But the brown squirrel over the brown log when you had a bright oppossum to put there instead? Assembly Accident.


24) Foreground is background part 2. The color tones flatten this one.

25) The Mother of All Accidents. There’s some really fun stuff going on here. You just have to find it.

I’ll stop there since (I hope) the point is made. Again, this isn’t a slam on anybody (although I am sure some will feel that it is). There’s some really great craftsmanship in just about every individual element shown here. It’s just that once all the elements were assembled they just don’t work together quite so well. Some images work as is, but could have been just a leeeeeetle bit better. So no death threats, please. I’m just trying to point out a flaw in the system.

1 comment:

Keith Lango said...

original comments here...