The Animation Show’s 2nd year show came to Austin last weekend, and I was lucky enough to see it Sunday evening with Don Hertzfeldt taking questions afterwards. He discussed traditional animation, the dying art of shooting on actual film, and the four-year process of making his latest film, The Meaning of Life.
One of the things that struck me about this year is the running time of some of these shorts. 10 minutes is fine if it’s brilliant work, as many of these are, but I was surprised that a couple films didn’t hold my interest. Overall it was a great show, though. Some of the highlights for me were Guard Dog (Bill Plympton), When The Day Breaks (rotoscoping as style instead of cheat), Hello (only animation can do this), and Pan With Us (stunning innovation in stop-motion).
The Man With No Shadow was also a favorite. Don Hertzfeldt likes to talk about how real innovation in animation usually happens in short films, so it was appropriate that this film took an element that is usually the first thing to be removed from low-budget television or feature animation — shadows — and built a whole film around it.
Don’s latest itself was good, but probably not equal to Billy’s Balloon or Rejected. From his weblog:
“there’s a lot going on in there, tho on one level i think the film is sort of like a painting and what you take is going to be very personal and very different than the guy next to you.”
In 2003 I posted my review of the first show.
Dan Cederholm asks the relevant questions about weblog syndication formats:
“Will we forever continue to support multiple RSS formats as well as Atom? Is Atom succeding as a successor to RSS? Will this stop people from using the term ‘RSS’ to describe an Atom feed? It’s all very confusing — and that’s coming from someone who actually understands some of this stuff.”
The competition between Dave Winer and the Atom folks seemed pretty intense a year ago. Six Apart has pretty much shunned RSS from the beginning, preferring RDF and then Atom. Blogger made the controversial move from RSS 0.9 back in the Blogger Pro days, to Atom-only, and switched to the Atom API instead of the widely-deployed Blogger API that they developed. Atom gained a bunch of momentum, and steps to make it an official standard were well underway.
But then something interesting happened that no one expected, and it happened almost overnight: Atom was obsoleted.
RSS 2.0 won not because of the enormous number of major RSS 2.0 sites (although that helped), or because it was better (it’s not, really). It won because of podcasting. It all came together for me when I read Evan Williams post about podcasting and RSS, and he didn’t mention Atom at all.
It’s clear by all the wp-rss.xml files out there that many of the Movable Type 2.x users are migrated to WordPress. The price of Movable Type 3.0 is hard to justify for personal sites, or even business ones for that matter.
The influence that Six Apart and Google had on syndication formats is vanishing. In the end it wasn’t even about politics at all.
It’s always interesting to see where 2d artists have gone after the decline of traditional, hand-drawn animation for feature films. That might seem an odd thing to say considering that recently a hand-drawn Pooh movie opened in theaters, but also keep in mind that it was animated in Disney’s Japanese studio, which has since closed.
The documentary Dream on Silly Dreamer follows this and similar tales as they unfolded in California and Florida. It will be making the festival rounds, and hopefully will show up in a city near you soon.
Masa Oshiro, who worked on July Films’ My Little World, is probably typical of many animators who have left the industry for a while, or for good. I found this snippet from his bio particularly revealing, a strange unintended mix of humor, hope, and sadness: “As the industry shifted from traditional to 3d animation, Masa left to pursue designing and sculpting small collectables.” (Those are cute turtles, though.)
And then there’s Andreas Deja, perhaps the last of the master animators at Disney who refuses to give up his pencil. He’s working on the direct-to-video Bambi II, trying to infuse as much quality into it so as not to shame the creators. Surprisingly, early stills from the film don’t look half bad, even if the mere concept should be cause for concern. Keep up the good fight, Andreas.
Don Hertzfeldt is in a category all by himself. His latest Animation Show festival hits Austin this weekend and will be a must-see.
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and ignore the blogosphere guilt trip.