Archive for June 18th, 2011
I came across a great interview with Dik Jarman on YouTube which I have transcribe here for your enjoyment. Dik is an Australian animator with some great titles such as Mary and Max and Dad’s Clock and now director at kanga manga studios. The interview is entitled “Creation Through Animation with Dik Jarman”
The interview is the property of
Screen and Media
School of Media and Communication
The interview goes as follows:
“Good animation is like Formula One racing. You got the driver in the car at the end who wins the race, perhaps. But then he’s got all the 21 crew members who pick the car up, there’s people who design the car, there’s all that behind it, ___ people. And it’s the same with animation: there’s the performance of the team – people who make the puppet, design the puppet, build the puppet, paint the puppet, cloths for the puppet. Then there’s the writer for the story. There’s the uh, creator of the set, the lighting, the camera, the way it’s oriented, the rig that is built. All of that, in small production, is probably done by the animator but in large productions it’s a team effort.
I first got into animation in 1985 at secondary school when a good friend of mine and I were acting. And were the only people acting and working in the art department as well. And he was doing a film for his art project. And he asked me, can I act in it? He won an award for that film, he came back to me and said, “Look, I have another film to do and I want to make it puppet animation and I know you can sculpt,” because I was doing sculpturing at the time in the art room and so from then on I started sculpting for him and he was making films. And, 14 years I became his production designer and in the end animator as well.
The animator comes in and it is a dance, if you like, between you and the puppet. The puppet has it’s own integrity – its physical, it has knees, it has arms and fingers. It will move in a certain way. A computer animation you could bend any way, it can be spaghetti arms if you don’t put the joints in the right place. A puppet animation can’t – it can only move in the way it’s actually been designed. And so, you have to work with those set of limitations and create those gestures. I mean, early on you try to create a puppet, which can, if it needs to play the piano, has articulated fingers. If it only needs to run, you can just design fists. So the perfectly designed puppet for the gesture, but once you got the puppet, how do you use those internal mechanisms to be able to create the right gesture?
Animation, I think, is broad spectrum because everyone from kids to adults can enjoy animation depending on content and quality. Um, there’s good animation, there’s bad animation. There’s very literal animation in that it’s figurative. If we look at Wallace and Gromit, for example, it’s like a transliteration of film into animation. It’s just every character you know, every — it coul all be replaced by people. The fact that Gromit’s a dog is irrelevant; it could easily be a person and Davis McGraw and the like. You’ve seen these characters in film and what Nick Parker is doing is just merely transposing that to animation. I think that kind of misses the advantage that animation has, is because you’re creating a world which the audience is ready to sit down and go, “I – I wish to believe in this world,” or, or, or, “open to that world.” So you can take them on a journey to anywhere. So to merely replicate reality is missing an opportunity. So therefore, I think there’s a broad spectrum, as I said, of available destinations for animation and audiences of course, as well.
If you go to, uh, Bug’s Life, for example. The bugs, or the ants, they have four legs they don’t have six. Why? Because they’re trying to make them more like us. They’re anthropomorphizing them so that we can emote better with them. That blue color: they don’t actually look like ants. Where as, the enemy who they don’t want us to have an emotion with, those flying grasshopper-y things, they are grasshoppers, aren’t they? They’ve got scars, they’ve got all the texture, they’re as alien to humans as possible.
Well, in Dad’s Clock, I had a puppet, which was all tin and brass. Of course he took months to build, there’s no way I could build another one. The idea was just to make him stronger, or repair damage should it be required. Yeah, a lot of experience has taught me to build things well to begin with because a lot of animation is just in your feel. Like how much does that joint move? You don’t want to constantly be bringing in a measuring device.
Now with Max (from Mary and Max), for example, he’s a beast, and he’s heavy and he’s depressed. And when you’re heavy and depressed, your weight becomes your enemy. You’ve gotta drag it along. But when you become, proud and strong, suddenly your weight becomes your friend and you can actually use that momentum and start actually knocking down doors with it. And it’s the way you carry that, the way you carry your body is what defines how happy or whatever emotion you’re trying to bring across.
You’ll often see animators walking up and down rooms and, you know, actually performing themselves to feel bodily what it is so they can then transfer that bodily sensation to the puppet. Um, or a lot of animators have mirrors on their stage, they can go (*he makes a couple of facial expressions here*), and just remind themselves of those particular things. As Nick Duncan once said, “You never finish your film, you just run out of time”. and that’s true, you always want to go back and open this bit or fix this but you’ve gotta know when to – like in any creative endeavor – when to stop designing and when to start presenting.”
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