Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And with one response, Amid from Cartoon Brew becomes my hero.

First, go here:

...because from there, I backlinked and found this quote from Amid Amidi:

"Faulting Tell-Tale Heart for its lack of “expressive and skillful stylized animation” is like faulting Norman McLaren’s Begone Dull Care for its lack of pictorial imagery. It completely misses the point that animation is an infinitely rich graphic art filled with all types of visual possibilities.

That is exactly what the UPA artists were trying to prove with films like Tell-Tale Heart though that lesson apparently still hasn’t sunk in with people like the head of ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Archive who wish to limit the definition of what constitutes quality animated filmmaking. It’s depressing that somebody in charge of a project dedicating to promoting and educating people about the possibilities of this art form is so limited in his own understanding about what the possibilities of the art form are."

...countering the usual "everything sucks but what I think" opinions that were recently countered over HERE as well.

- Steve


cartooncrank said...

Well, let's keep in mind that Amid is the author of a book glorifying all things UPA their attendant copycats.

I agree that it is a shocking breaking-of-ranks...

Too bad the whole "controversy" is hinged on trumped-up half-arguments and strawman statements.

Does anyone really think the ASIFA ARCHIVES would run all the original artwork from TELL-TALE HEART through a paper shredder if it was donated to them?

I'm willing to wager it would loving scanned into the archive's database and then proudly displayed on their blog and in their gallery area.

But, yeah, those 45 paragraph entries into the comments section are a little much...

cartooncrank said...

Or rather: "I'm willing to wager it would be lovingly scanned into the archive's database and then proudly displayed on their blog and in their gallery area."

See ya,


Anonymous said...

I saw UPA cartoons when I was a kid, and I thought they were crap then and I think so now. And John K is right about style taking precedence over substance in those cartoons. And the same thing is happening today. The most inept, ugly and insipid character design and animation is excused as "stylization" - just look at Camp Lazlo. That is the true legacy of crapmeisters like the UPA crowd. UPA left its mark on the art of animation all right, but it's hardly a beauty mark. To me the only significant thing about the UPA-era theater toons was when Walt Disney got ticked off about all the fuss over "limited animation" (and especially when said fuss disparaged his work as well) and retaliated by creating a limited animation toon called "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom", which won an Oscar. Then, having proven that he could do that pretentious limited animation better than anybody if he so chose, he *chose* to go back to the beautiful full animation he loved. Thank god he did. UPA and other crapmeisters like Hanna-Barbera nearly killed the art of animation. Walt Disney saved it for generations to come.

Stephen Worth said...

If you're interested in an answer to your question, Cartooncrank, I'd be happy to give it to you...

If the original artwork to Tell Tale Heart was brought to us, I would certainly digitize it, as it fits within our charter of documenting significant material from the golden age of animation.

Would I post it on the blog? Perhaps. But it would be accompanied by an article that put the art into context.

The accompanying text would be something along the lines of this article by Amid Amidi...

The Importance Of "Animation" in Animation Design

"One of the hardest things to get across when discussing animation design is that it's not just about character designers, layout artists and background painters. The animator is a critical member of the design team....

The primary reason, in my opinion, that so much of today's stylized animation rings hollow is because nobody ever follows through on the animation. Regardless of whether a show is animated traditionally overseas or if it's done in Flash, most contemporary TV series creators think their job is done once they've created a pretty model sheet and slapped on a bit of color styling. These few stills illustrate however that model sheets are often the least important aspect of stylized animation-- what the animator does with those designs is what truly counts."

By the way, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is currently working on a project to document material from UPA. I think being able to discuss the work critically is vital to being able to learn from it. Animation history should be a living thing, debated and analyzed by filmmakers working in the animation field.

The Archive isn't a place where gold frames are put around animation and people speak in hushed, reverent tones. It's a place where the history of animation has an impact on the way we do things today.

See ya

cartooncrank said...


EACTLY what I thought! My point, if I indeed had one, is that no one at the ASIFA Archive is sitting around with their finger resting on the "History Eraser Button!"

Now back to more important matters, like comparing "Good Night Elmer" to "Sloppy Jalopy!"

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting blog entry by one of my current-day favorite guys:

This is NOT related to the UPA discussion, but I thought it might be of general interest.

Anonymous said...

Here is another link, having to do with animation artists snobbery amongst students and teachers:

Steve said...

Actually, my comment wasn't about Amid's defending UTA... was more that I feel the ASIFA archive is archived with a very specific "this is good history, this is bad history, this is unimportant history attitude."

But see, this is me coming from a writer. And Steven has a very specific point of view about our contributions. And to me, it would be like Chevy creating an auto museum and saying "Screw the Mustang."

Welp... that's enough contention for one day...

Stephen Worth said...

The animation archive isn't an archive OF animation. It's an archive FOR animators. The archive is intended to be the ultimate artists' "clip file" and a place to learn how to make animated films from the ground up.

Students of animation need to know how to draw, first and foremost. Animation without animation in it just isn't good reference for someone who is just starting out. It'll only give them the bad habits too many of our own generation of animators are saddled with. They need to be given models that they need to work at to achieve, not be taught cheap shortcuts. Animation historians can dispassionately document the history of limited animation. That isn't our purpose here.

If you want to know what sort of an impact the archive is having on animation students, just ask the ones who have visited the archive and who are struggling their way through the $100k Animation Drawing Course. There are a couple of them here at the archive right now. They'll tell you.

You've never visited the archive, Steve. Neither has Amid. Ask someone who has. They'll tell you what we're doing. Or just come down and take the nickle tour. You might learn something. I know I do each and every day I'm here.

See ya

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