We have been having some great discussions, in the comment sections on recent posts, about the world of animation and the path of the indie creator. Much has been said about how our animation should look. I think, in the past, it was the noted Disney animator and character designer Glenn Keane, who brought us characters like Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, who said that animation looks the way it does simply because of a technical limitation of the times.
Because of the need to paint cels back then he said, "…you’ve never even seen any of my drawings up on the screen. Everything is always cleaned up or interpreted by somebody else." It always seems as though something gets lost when the original drawing is cleaned up and made into perfect, sharp lines, for cels. With animation done on computers nowadays, there is ZERO reason for animation to continue to look like this. The thing is, audiences have now been trained to accept that this is what animation looks like. When someone deviates from this, it is given the side eye. Some might even associate different looks with a lack of quality.
It is for this reason I was enamored with the film Ernest and Celestine. It is a French, animated film and normally I would watch such things in the original language with english subtitles, but the dubbed version features a cast of Hollywood talent such as Forest Whitaker, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, and Jeffrey Wright. It also doesn't sound like they are just sitting in a room, bored and reading off a paper, as many dubs tend to sound.
What I am more interested in, though, is the look of the film. It has a very painterly, watercolor feel to it. Lines are not perfectly sharp and crisp. Lines do not even completely outline the figures. It has a very artistic look. This is the kind of stuff that is easily possible in today's world. We don't see it because it is so much easier and cheaper to just use Flash and move "digital puppets" around.
With my tablet having all but kicked the bucket, I haven't been drawing as much as I used to. I think I am seriously missing it. Although I have made progress in getting back into cel shading and am able to get results I have been after for ages that way, there is something that comes with and from drawing that is not being satisfied. I WANT to do stuff like this Ernest and Celestine film. Not necessarily content wise, but I want to explore different looks, styles, and play with what drawing can really bring to the table. Who knows? Maybe I will just have to find a way to do both!
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I remember seeing the posters for the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie, in the subways of Shanghai, it seems like years ago. Considering the direction Disney had gone with films like Cinderella, Maleficent, and Alice in Wonderland, I had no reason to expect that they would do a faithful remake of the original 1991 animated film. Other studios work, after all, going in very different directions when bringing back classic properties.
Films like Neverland, Oz the Great and Powerful, and, dare I say, Snow White and the Huntsman, we're dramatic departures from the classic films and even from the source material. Some function more as prequels or side stories to the original. I pretty much expected Disney would do something similar. This changed, however, when I saw the live-action remake of The Jungle Book. I love that movie. This is why was extremely surprised to read that Disney was, in fact, planning to do something exactly like Snow White and the Huntsman. They wanted to go in some dark and very different direction. Luckily, the director convinced them otherwise.
Why mess with perfection? The original 1991 Beauty and the Beast is as close to perfect as you can get. I was very happy to find that Disney chose to not only be faithful to it, but to even keep the same songs. The few new songs featured therein are still done by the same composer. This made the live action version a wonder to behold. (I am now going to stop talking this entry because I have a huge sore on my tongue and the speech to text is failing miserably)
I certainly had some reservations about aspects of the film before I saw it. I couldn't see Emma Watson as Belle. I also expected she would be dubbed for her singing performances. It turns out I was mistaken on both counts. Although she doesn't exactly look the part, in my view, and seems to being a personality not fitting this character to her work, she did an amazing job here. Some critics were not impressed with her singing, but I didn't notice it. I thought she was dubbed until reading about it afterwards.
If I wanted to find something to complain about, I suppose, it would be the CGI animation for the beast. It was very good, but like most things CGI these days, it didn't look like they even tried to make it look real. It doesn't detract from the experience, probably because it is fantasy and based on a cartoon, but these graphics wouldn't cut it in a realistic, modern day story, for example. The same could be said for the wolves. I don't want to make it sound like any of this work is bad. It most certainly isn't. It's just not fooling anyone. Remember in Narnia when you sometimes weren't sure? Those days are, I guess, long gone from CGI.
Say what you want about Disney and evil corporations, but they know what they are doing. I have been extremely impressed with their output of late. Marvel movies, Star Wars, The Jungle Book, Moana, which I can't begin to explain how much I love, and now this new Beauty and the Beast; They have not tarnished their founder's name. Quality is still job one.
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