Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wither the "inherent appeal" of CG?

Amid Amidi points up a nicely done bit of commercial advertising over on the Cartoon Brew. The animators used CG to emulate the old stop-motion look and palette from days gone by. And the spot is really, really well done. But Amid takes issue with the use of CG as merely a tool of emulation of other visual styles. To quote the man himself...
 It’s a well done spot, no question about it, but I have mixed feelings about it. Frankly I’m getting tired of CG directors evoking charm in their work by cashing in on the audience’s fondness for older animation techniques. If you’re using CG, why not explore the inherent appeal in your chosen technique instead of using it to mimic a look from decades ago?
 It's a fair question. However the reply comes in the form of yet another question- a simple, yet confounding one.

What is the inherent appeal of CG? Does it even have one?

The comments in response to the Brew post are actually very well thought out, including Amid's own replies. You should take the time to read them. These questions have been something I've kicked around here on this blog in the past. Ultimately I never was able to find a cohesive answer that laid all arguments and questions to rest. One commenter on the Cartoon Brew post has this to offer...
Couldn’t using CG to “mimic a look from decades ago” technically be considered “the inherent appeal in your chosen technique”?
That's probably the best answer yet. It's not too far from the one I came to last year. I see CG more as a tool of collage. It can be just about anything you want it to be. The untapped potential of CG (to me, at least) is that it removes the technical barriers that would otherwise keep diverse styles and techniques from being used together. I'd like to see what can be done with that potential for mixture.


Breadwig said...

There certainly seems to be an inherent unappeal to CG. Especially when you don't push it past it's identifyable qualities.

Anonymous said...

The ad is really good,but if they make it stop motion,budget is gonna be 10X or more ... the scale is really big,only the time they make all puppets and set be ... really long.I don't understant why topic like that be soooo inportant.Many of us,here or cartoon brew site,will never be taste the animation if,computers don't exist.The shooting of Corpse Bride is make on Canon EOS-1D Mark II ,maybe some people will say:why they don't shoot it on 35 mm.It is the same topic.In the end it is only 1 important thing.The audience must be happy.Film is art for showing to others,what we want to tell to the whole World.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is one kind of animation that will only be done by computers: procedural animation. The game "Spore" is such an example.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think Amid Amidi is off his rocker on this one. When things start to look like they were made with CG, like the two examples he gives in his reply, they become inherently UN-appealing. The second example in particular was utter garbabge, and I had to shut both of them off before they were finished. This is why animators should try to emulate, or at least find insperation in the old techniques... after all, the old ways work for a reason, they are the tried and true methods of people that had to find out what works the hard way, by trial and error.

I am not saying don't try something new... but if you are pressed for time, and on a budget, which is how the majority of us are, then there is nothing wrong with working within what you know does work. Frankly, if the team that did "Muffin Man" presented something that looked like "RGBXYZ" (one of Amid's examples) they would have found themselves out of work. If you have a reason do do something like "RGBXYZ" and you can make it work, i.e. make it bearable to wtach, not causing your audiance to pluck out thier eyes, and poke thier ear drums. then by all means, go hard.

Another point, doing full CG like a Pixar or Dreamworks style is quite expensive. Doing full stop motion is also expensive. However, if you can combine the computer, with a "limited" animation style you can do things cheaper and faster than either way by themselves. Plus, you will still find yourself in the relm of the enjoyable.

Sometimes you don't have to re-invent the wheel.

Thom said...

Doesn't hand-drawn animation often emulate the comic pages? And don't they emulate some previous drawing technique? And so forth until you finally get to emulating the world around us? We can only create visual art from the storehouse of things that we've previously seen. Name a color or shape or movement that can be created ex nihilo. It can't be done. All we can do is interpret and rearrange the world we see.

Don't misunderstand, this takes great feats of imagination and creativity to do it well. But if you try too hard to create something that's never ever been seen before, you end up with something unwatchable like RGBXYZ. As someone else mentioned, even it emulates early '80s TRS-80 graphics.

So what to do if you want to "push the envelope"? Emulate a new combination of influences. It's all emulation in the end.

Anonymous said...

If you’re using CG, why not explore the inherent appeal in your chosen technique instead of using it to mimic a look from decades ago?

The inherent appeal in the CG technique is found precisely in its ability to mimic every look imaginable. Even the default ray traced photo real look is a mimic of actual photography. You'd think a guy so plugged in to the animation scene would have a better understanding of things.

FleaCircusDirector said...

I'm not sure I agree that the appeal of CGI is that it can mimic other styles.

For me as an independant animator, the appeals are:

low entry cost,

smaller physical storage, I don't need a warehouse full of scenes or a filing cabinet full of cells,

non-linearility, I can rework a scene or change the lighting weeks after creating the origional shot, I can add in new props or set items to a shot as desired.

From the perspective of advertisers I can see that they would also benefit from some of these but also that they can share the work across teams (or the globe) and thw ability to make changes at the last minute without massive cost implications is key for advertising.

For the The Flea Film I am mimicing a clay style but that style evolved out of the film rather than it being my initial plan.