Sunday, 22 December 2019

2020 Vision: Watch Some Animation You Don’t Think You’ll Like For Christmas

Our new Deputy Dean, Saint John Walker, who joined Escape Studios a few weeks ago, offers his suggestions on Christmas viewing for our animation students.

As you take a break from mince pies, turkey and presents, why not watch some animation you've never seen before, to broaden your understanding of the possibilities of this remarkable medium.

Saint Walker
The Christmas break means for a short time you can step out of the studying routine set by your course, and so it’s a great time to set yourself a light project that might add something new to your repertoire before the new year.

If, like me, you can’t predict what will happen over Christmas, it’s best to have something that can be picked up easily in the odd moments; additionally not all of us have access to the technology or software to continue working on our magnum opus over the festive period, so we need to be a bit more strategic.

So here’s my rather perverse suggestion- use the holiday to watch some animation that you’d never usually watch.  Pick something you think you wouldn’t like and analyse it in terms of which audience it caters for, and how it does this. Here’s the reason- animators can easily get stuck in their own bubble and end up just creating characters, scenes and stories based on the style and type of animation they admire, and miss other stuff:

If you are a Manga-head you might have missed Anomalisa. If you are a Lego Movie fiend who still sings Everything is Awesome under their breath every day you might have missed the psychotic yet humourous work of Chris Landreth.  If you often wrap yourself in the warm charm of a Studio Ghibli film, then look at the chilling automata-driven gothic of the Quay Brothers. If you are into the rapidfire blobby soft surface gags of Instagram wunderkinds Extraweg, then maybe consider a full length Golden Age Disney film.  The point is to see something new that is as far away from your style as you can muster.

The purpose of this is not to get you to like these new finds, but to open yourself to the possibility of new ideas, concepts and tropes you can import into your current work, as well as gaining an insight regarding how many different audiences for animation there are beyond your own home turf. Write about what you find out, even if you find it a negative experience. Ask yourself why you are attracted to some styles and not others, and whether there is anything new you can bring into your own practice. This kind of research and reflection may even benefit your coursework in the long run.

So, widen your perspective this Christmas- and get animation-ready for 2020!

---- Saint John Walker, Escape Studios



Quay Brothers

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney, 1937)


Lego Movie

Chris Landreth

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2020, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here.

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