October 15th, 2019

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Inbetweens: Jiri Trnka

Jiri Trnka was one of the greatest animators who ever worked with puppets. There is a wealth of information on his art and career on the web. Here is just a small sampling…

PHOTOS

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

FILMS

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

ILLUSTRATION

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

Jiri Trnka Puppet Animation

For more information on this great animator and illustrator, see…

Jiri Trnka DVDJiri Trnka DVD




DVD collections of Trnka’s important puppet films have been very hard to come by in the past. Luckily, there is a really good one available right now… The Puppet Films of Jiri Trnka It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it. Recommended.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:00 pm

October 14th, 2019

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STUDENTS: Three Steps to Greater Creativity

creativity

Recently on Facebook, I was asked why I thought originality in animation was such a rare thing today. I pointed out that originality and creativity are closely connected, and they aren’t just magical gifts that you are either born with or you aren’t. They come from a body of knowledge and a set of skills that can be learned. Originality and creativity are both fed by the same things… observation of life, the ability to think like an artist, and a wide range of creative influences.

Three Steps The primary source of inspiration for all artists is the observation of real life.

Too many animated films employ character “archetypes”… generic mom and dad characters, typical wimpy kid, his goofy dog and clever cat, bratty little sister… I don’t know about you but those sorts of characters bore me stiff. The best actors will tell you that they don’t create characters by looking at what other actors do or employing stereotypes. They look at real people and try to capture the gestures, walk and attitudes that express that person’s unique personality. It works exactly the same in animation.

When you’re riding the bus, drinking your coffee at Starbucks or standing in line at the DMV, pay attention to the people around you. Look for unique personalities and try to capture them in your sketchbook. Exaggerate and caricature them to see how you might put those personalities across in an animated character. You’ll find that the characters you see on the street are a lot more interesting than the characters you see in most animated films.

Three Steps In an earlier post on Facebook, I pointed out one of the primary creative skills, *ideation*. Another skill that is invaluable is *analysis*. Analysis is at the core of what it means to think like an artist.

When the average person sits down to watch an animated film, they are carried away into the fantasy and let the film direct their imagination and entertain them. A film maker thinks differently. Once your mind is trained to understand the process of film making, you will never sit in the theater as just another member of the audience again. You definitely lose that innocence. But it is replaced by something even more important.

When a film maker watches a film, he is looking at the application of technique. How does the film establish its characters and environment? How does it set up the conflict? What rhythms and pacing are being used to carry the film forward… contrasts in moods… staging… color… music… sound effects… acting… dialogue… All these things and more are revealed through analysis. Turn on your brain and your creativity will follow.

Three Steps Lastly, it’s important to expose yourself to a broad spectrum of artistic creativity… not just the few things you already know about and like.

When you as a filmmaker are watching movies, TV shows and animation, you shouldn’t just limit yourself to what you personally *like*. Focus instead on what you can learn from. The principle of garbage in- garbage out applies here. If you watch nothing but lousy animation and stupid movies, what sorts of animation do you expect to produce yourself?

In fact, animation should be just a small portion of what you study and expose yourself to. In order to be a creative artist in animation, you need to understand and appreciate ALL of the arts. This means studying the history of all forms of music- from classical music and opera to country music and jazz. It’s the same with the history of painting, and sculpture, and dance, and most of all- film making.

If you want to train yourself to think analytically about film, choose really good examples from the past to study. Classic films are packed with cinematic techniques that animation hasn’t even touched on yet, and they will open your mind to new genres to explore. In the entire history of animation, there have been thousands of cats chasing mice and dogs chasing cats, but how many gothic horror movies have their been? How many noir thrillers? Westerns? War pictures? People love to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” but in animation, that isn’t true. There are a LOT more stories to be told.

Another advantage to using older films as reference is that you are more likely to pull out pure technique and less likely to simply imitate. If you are looking at a WWII movie, you can’t just copy situations and dialogue because it is from a different time and place. Instead, you are forced to focus on the acting, the staging or the cutting technique. Stealing technique isn’t stealing. It requires adaptation to your own context. Copying specific gags, situations or dialogue from modern movies similar to the one you are making is definitely stealing.

Three Steps The keys to creativity in animated film making are to… 1) Open your eyes to the world around you, 2) Think about what you see- analyze how it works, and 3) Expose yourself to a wider range of creative influences.

When your frame of reference is limited to anime, video games and superhero movies, it shouldn’t be surprising that everything you create is derivative. That kind of background may seem to be a good foundation to build a career in animation on first glance, but look at the animators of the past… Milt Kahl had classical art training from Chouinard, Carlo Vinci won a scholarship to the prestigious National Academy of Design, and Grim Natwick studied painting in Vienna under Gustav Klimt. Animators back then were artists first and animators second. If you want to imitate someone’s approach to creativity, imitate the best! Become an artist.


Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member! For the month of October our Student Membership will be discounted to only $50/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years! Yes, this applies to full time educators too! Why should you join? Each week we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources!

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:00 pm

October 11th, 2019

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RefPack030: An Amazing Russian Fairy Tale Featurette

Reference Pack

REFPACK 030
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Members Only Download

Every other month, members of Animation Resources are given access to an exclusive Members Only Reference Pack. These downloadable files are high resolution e-books on a variety of educational subjects and rare cartoons from the collection of Animation Resources in DVD quality. Our current Reference Pack has just been released. If you are a member, click through the link to access the MEMBERS ONLY DOWNLOAD PAGE. If you aren’t a member yet, please JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES. It’s well worth it.


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DVD QUALITY VIDEO:
Russian Animation

Dead Tsarevna & The Seven Bogatyrs
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Ivan Ivanov-Vano / 1951

Although this film closely resembles the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, this adaptation is based on a Russian fairy tale about the Princess Tsarevna. The film closely follows the poem written in 1833 by Aleksandr Pushkin. If you are interested, there is a synopsis of the story at Wikipedia.

The director of this film, Ivan Ivanov-Vano began his career in animation in 1927 and made three dozen films over his half century career, most of which were based on Russian folk tales. Early on, he was heavily influenced by Disney, but his personal style developed and grew over his career. In 1947 he directed the first Russian animated feature film, The Humpbacked Horse; and he helped establish ASIFA (The International Animated Film Society) in 1961.

This film incorporates design motifs unique to Russian art and it reflects its culture perfectly. In the modern world, animated films are made in Asia, India, Europe and the United States that all look pretty much the same. It would be good if a diversity of regional styles developed again. After all, art should be a personal expression of one’s life and culture, not a product manufactured to someone else’s design.

REFPACK030: Dead Tsarevna (1951)
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MP4 Video File / SD / 29:58 / 645 MB Download


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Russian AnimationRussian AnimationRussian AnimationRussian AnimationRussian AnimationRussian Animation


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:00 pm