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Milendrin
12-30-2004, 10:49 PM
Am I alone in being a bit disenchanted with CGI films and TV shows? Don't get me wrong; I thought Toy Story was excellent, but that came out nearly 10 years ago and was a high water mark.

I have to declare an interest - I'm a big Anime fan, so I might be slightly partisan towards traditional cel-animation, but I can't be the only person who is alarmed by the apparently rapid demise of this art form in the West.

Cel-shaded CGI can be used to enhance traditional animation when used sparingly - Futurama and Belleville-Rendezvous ('Triplets of Belleville' in the US) are good examples of this but, to be honest, I find most fully CGI animtion - especially made for TV shows such as the recent 'Fungus the Bogeyman' (BBC, UK) a bit... soulless compared to hand-drawn animation.

My main problem with CGI is the lack of artistic impression - everything is too regular, too symmetrical and looks the same in every scene, especially the characters.

When you build a 3D model in Lightwave or Maya you're designing something. This process is not as creative as a pencil and a blank sheet of paper because it dosen't really engage you're imagination. Manipulating polygons on a screen just isn't the same - it's not called computer generated imagery for nothing.

It's hard to articulate exactly why I prefer cel animation. Fond memories of films such as Watership Down, Alice in Wonderland, Sword in the Stone, Animalympics and TV shows like Mysterious Cities of Gold, The Snowman, DragonBall Z and X-MEN (not 'evolution') make me fear that 15 years from now, hand drawn animation will be a lost art outside Japan.

There is nothing wrong with CGI in it's own right - the FMV sequences in Final Fantasy VII (SoftImage, I believe) were fantastic - but to me, the thought that it may lead to the virtual extinction of HGI (human generated imagery) is appalling.

Milendrin.

Nemoid
12-31-2004, 04:09 AM
initially cg art was something very cold due to technical problems new technologies allowed only a few things, and some lacks of real artistical knowledge, but as time passes i 'm seeing 3d becoming more "warm.":)

hand drawn animation is really fascinating . both in anime,
american style toons and more, but i see a bright future for 3d animation as well wich allows cel shading and it's bringing rapid times to complete a movie.

the final result of 3d is always (or quite always) a 2d image, and so the feeling given to 3d art CAN be more artistic and 2d looking.

it's all about artistic sensibility and some good idea and workaround. in Belleville good ideas were put in the works to give to 3d stuff a hand drawn aspect and integrate better with 2d drawings (a good idea as well, to utilize 2 ways of work)

at the very end of the story, results are what it counts. final frames are what counts. so CGI allows to put together things in a more seamlessly way than previous technology and if well utilized can give good results, even similar to hand drawn.

also, it all starts with a pencil and good ideas you can design things like that and execute with 3D. you also can use apps like z brush that lets you create just like in clay thinking to the shape, not poligons. so only creativity counts at a design stage.

faulknermano
12-31-2004, 08:22 AM
Am I alone in being a bit disenchanted with CGI films and TV shows?

no, you're not. :)


I have to declare an interest - I'm a big Anime fan, so I might be slightly partisan towards traditional cel-animation, but I can't be the only person who is alarmed by the apparently rapid demise of this art form in the West.



My main problem with CGI is the lack of artistic impression - everything is too regular, too symmetrical and looks the same in every scene, especially the characters.


it may be argued, however, that the people who create, set-up and animate the characters are not working in the best possible situation. remember that traditional animation techniques are decades ahead of CG methods when it comes to giving life to characters. not the methods themselves, though. rather by the abilities of the current crop of people using those methods (or software). you might say that CG methods of animation are inadequate, or the application of CG methods by CG artists are inadequate. there are truths in both statements.


This process is not as creative as a pencil and a blank sheet of paper because it dosen't really engage you're imagination. Manipulating polygons on a screen just isn't the same - it's not called computer generated imagery for nothing.

that may or may not be true, i couldnt say for sure. however, think you might just be missing the point. if we're talking about a commercial, quick-buck endeavor, i'll pass. but a creative-centric project, for example, is something that goes through "a pencil and a blank sheet of paper." many characters are drafted from sketches which are then turned into 3d models. (do they still do storyboards, or is that passe?)


It's hard to articulate exactly why I prefer cel animation. Fond memories of films such as Watership Down, Alice in Wonderland, Sword in the Stone, Animalympics

metropolis, nausicaa, akira.... yeah, :D i love anime because of the seriousness of its "lines". and secret of NIMH (not anime but blows the socks off. :))

as for full-CG t.v. shows: for some reason, they dont really work. it may be that 1.) there are visual requirements they must meet that are unrealistic 2.) given their timetable / budget.

whatever reason, and i'm sure they are good ones (i work in t.v. effects, so i have an idea of the kind of hell networks give us), the resulting fact is that, while 3D shows are "impressive looking", they are less funny, less serious, less animated (meaning less lively), less believable.

sure, anyone would find it hard to draw up comparative lines between Road Runner / Coyote shows and Heavy Gear - they've nothing in common. the very duration of the show can tell you that. but while the former engages me in the chase, the latter drags me along, hoping that somewhere in the middle, the characters and editing would stop dropping the ball.

****

my brother once said something to the effect that something doesnt have to look real to give it a sense of realism. he was referring to the XIII game (great game btw). i agree. i'm in the middle of a personal animation project which, until now, has been put on hold for the difficulty and impracticality of an ultra-realistic render design. the point is not ultimate capability: with enough time, it is possible to be very realistic, render-speaking. but will you drop the ball? what's the strange looking cloth folding when you're character folds his arms? why does his skin look like it's glowing (e.g. super-SSS :D). what was originally there to provide more visual help in telling the story becomes the very aspect of the story that's so distracting.

in the end i decided to go ahead with the project using a non-traditional cel shading render design, in my mind knowing that the amount of time it took to texture an ultra-realistic character was exponentially added by the need to ultra-realistically animate it and simulate dynamic parts of the character. with an ultra-realistic character, you must also have an ultra-realistic background. the resulting time requirement was not considered a "time-to-complete" aspect of the project. it was considered a "limitation" that i had to circumvent.

it was a hard decision, of course. like most everybody here, i've been programmed to make things as realistic as i can, and that the more photoreal, the better CG it is, the more impressive. in a sense it is true. but only in a sense.

(i also chose to forego the non-photo-real CG style found in animations like albee's ghost warrior, or meni's freak, on a simple matter of nostalgic taste for anime).

sorry for talking about myself, but i thought it was relevant. ;)

pooby
12-31-2004, 09:05 AM
I wholeheartedly agree that it's a real shame that 2d animation is taking a massive blow from the rise of CG.

Saying that.. commercial animation is a business and it is driven by what audiences want to see at the time. We have seen plenty of great 2d films and it's only natural that audiences are excited to see things done in a new medium that is progressing all the time.

I think making a distinction between CGI and Human generated imagery is a little silly. It's like saying that cel animation is PGI -Pencil generated imagery.
The computer is only an interface between your imagination and a screen. Much in the same way that a pencil is an interface between your imagination and a piece of paper.

I would disagree that CGI has a 'lack of artistic impression'.-The majority of ANY form of art will be pretty poor.
It's only top artists who produce inspiring work, and this goes for CG too.
I think, say 'The incredibles' shows us consistant subtle character performances on an unprecedented level of excellence.
I'm not saying that they are the best characters ever. I think Shere Khan, for example is a stronger character than any in that movie, BUT.. given the characters that are there.. the subtlety and believability of the acting is something that would be hard to achieve in any other medium.

I used to do stop-frame animation.
I was a director at Aardman animations and I had pretty negative feelings toward CG at the time. I felt that Stop-frame had more 'soul' to it.
Even a visit to Pixar at the time didn't sell CG to me. ( I was even offered a job at Pixar in 1996 and turned it down!)

But as the years passed, and I felt I had done in stop-frame as much as I could do without just treading water, I had a shot at CG - and I found i really enjoyed it...and I would say that it is EVERY bit as creative as drawing or painting or any other art form..
It enables an artist to produce work limited only by their talent and imagination.

(and software)

jin choung
12-31-2004, 03:16 PM
i assume you're talking about 'feature' animation. cuz tv stuff is doing fine. simpsons, king of the hill, kids stuff, etc.

as for feature:

american feature 2d animation deserves to die. it has been nothing but strictly sacharine kid crap. that lack of variety and the reliance on the same old same old tired stories and themes aimed at the rugrat set deserves to be shot in the face and ignominiously thrown into the nearest sewer.

american animation never grew, never matured, never varied.

in terms of cost:

sure,

there's lots great about 2d but it's either expensive and you gotta kill a lot of east asians in the dreaded inbetweener sweatshop mines in order to get acceptable results.

sure... it's great, it's fine, it's wonderful.

it's expensive.

and just like real, actual celluloid film, it is invariably gonna either be diminished or replaced altogether simply because of cost and ease of use considerations.
----------------------------------

the only real hope is the rise of cg technology applied to 2d animation that expands the capabilities of FLASH like animation.

if it becomes cheap and easy, there's no reason why it won't remain viable from a n economic perspective. but if it's strictly kids' fare, it should just stay dead.
----------------------------------

i will not miss american 2d animation.

good fing riddance.

jin

nemac4
12-31-2004, 05:12 PM
I feel that manga and anime are just way too hot right now to be killed by 3d. There are so many good 2d anime shows that it's hard to find time to watch them all.( Even with a Tivo) But when I think about 3d shows.... I really can only think of one that I care to watch,... and I only watch it if none of the 2d stuff is on.

Milendrin
01-01-2005, 03:55 AM
I think I may have been a bit too forthright in my criticism of CGI animation. I want to make it clear that, in no way did I intend to denigrate the work of 3D animators and I apologise for any offence taken.

Whilst it's true that cel-shading has enabled animators to achieve a more cartoony 2D visual style - the recent TV ad's for Ask Jeeves are superb - and that the medium will become more technically sophisticated, I can't personally envisage how CGI will ever achieve the kind of individual charm and magic that I associate with 'old-school' animations like Castle in the Sky and Giant Robo.

When I said that I thought CGI lacked artistic impression, what I meant is that once a character model has been realised three-dimensionally, no matter how intricate or aestheically pleasing it is, apart from cosmetic changes it will always look pretty much the same whereas with Anime the constantly changing appearance not only guards against over-familiarity but can be used to convey emotion.

I think jin choung was a bit harh on American 2D animation. If anything I'd say that the recent influx of shows like Pokemon and Yu-GI-Oh! have forced US studios to raise their game. I thought the pseudo-anime Teen Titans was pretty good and Megas XLS is quite funny and well animated - much better than the abominable Transformers Energon, which worringly comes from Japan. I can only hope that it bombed there and Toonami picked it up on the cheap - but he's right about US 2D feature animation, recent efforts have been pretty forgettable with the exception of Anastasia but that came out a while back.

"There are so many good 2d anime shows that it's hard to find time to watch them all" I picked up a copy of Newtype USA recently in Forbidden Planet (London) and was amazed to see the amount of Anime on US TV. You shoudn't take this for granted - here in Blighty, with the exception of DragonBall/Z/GT reapeats on Toonami, there is absolutely nothing on Cable, Satellite or Terrestrial and the only exposure Anime gets is negative - TV programmes about Hentai and newspaper articles about video nasties (tentacle sex?). CURSE YOU, DAILY MAIL!

Happy new year.

Milendrin.

tonsofpcs
01-01-2005, 09:48 AM
I feel that manga and anime are just way too hot right now to be killed by 3d. There are so many good 2d anime shows that it's hard to find time to watch them all.( Even with a Tivo)
Most of the Anime shows that make it to the US *legally* have already been out for 10 years in their originating countries before arriving.

Nemoid
01-01-2005, 02:56 PM
Anime is very cool i like it so much indeed. I like Movies Like Akira, Miyazaki movies, even old Go Nagai series like Grendizer or Mazinger.

the fact is that even if techniques to achieve animation are different in anime - hand drawn and CG animation done tilll now, nothing stops anyone to obtain the same results with 3D. as tecnology will progress, 3D will be used more and more with traditional hand drawn results, just because the way to work will become more and more artistic as years pass.

right now , 3d is moving towards this goal, but remembering what 3d was some years ago make me be very optimistic in the good results.achievable.

Some 3d was used also in Miyazaki movies.and other anime like Ghost in the shell- innocence only condition it have not to be noticeable. yet, it was used as a new tool to produce certain scenes, and this techniques will be used more and more.

if hand drawn produces some errors or exagerations very useful because they give better life to chars and things, these things can be achieved as well, it all depends from artistic sensibility of the modelers and animators and all artists involved.

into an ideal environment different techniques could also be used. what is better to be hand drawn or drawn with 2d- even if digital- techniques could be mixed with 3d elements, and surely new features and techniques will be created to simulate better an hand drawn look.