Krystian Morgan's blog featuring motion graphics, short film experiments and feature film.

By Krystian Oct.4.2010
In: Blog, Theory and Thoughts

Why Animation? Part 1

Most people who I’ve mentioned the idea that I’m making a film are pessimistic about it. When I mention that I intend the film to be animation the thought goes to the ridiculous. I’ve always liked animation, from Ren and Stimpy, Pixar and most recently Mihzaki’s films. But I wouldn’t consider myself an animator, I’m comfortable with cameras and actors and that’s what I like best. Through the many years of thinking about making my first feature I have looked at it from every angle, weighed up every possibility and came to the conclusion that for this film, animation is the best way for me to go. Below is some of my reasons why…

1, Unlimited Budget.
One thing that bothers many writers or creatives is putting a cap on vision, this can be attributed to many obstacles and most often the biggest is money. For example when writing my script I’ve never once had to sacrifice an idea or plot point for future worries of having to actually get that idea on film. Many writer – to be directors have to hold themselves back, writing that, ‘The house explodes’, isn’t as simple as just that, many things have to be taken into account. There would need to be some pre-thought on how this would be eventually achieved. Would I have to find a condemned house, in the middle of now-where, get permission from the town, cordon off the streets have explosion experts, safety experts on standby to shoot the thing for real? Do I just film any house and use special effects to create the illusion? Do we have a miniatures made and film the Tom Thumb replica go alight 100 times until I get it right? – Most likely though I would have to write something different, and forgo the headaches of achieving this one shot, yes one, when considering the other crap tonnes of shots planned, needing this much consideration the ‘fun’ of making a movie doesn’t seem so fun anymore. However with animation, for me that’s no issue, my example of a shot where a house explodes is no more complicated than animating dialogue, I could have 1h 30 minutes of back to back explosions and still be able to get a Big Mac at McDonalds afterwards.
Filming movies is expensive, no matter what angle you look at it, covering actors, locations, props, equipment, crew, anything and everything costs money. Animation eliminates a lot of those issues, whatever I want can be drawn, created and animated free of charge, through computers and software programs I already own.

2. Complete Control.
Like most people who like to create one thing or another, I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to work that I have a lot of myself invested into. I like talking ideas with others and am open enough to change my mind on an aspect that might have been set in stone, but one thing I hate is settling. Settling in a way that affects what your hope for the project to be. I have the benefit of a few years to create it, which gives me room to experiment, see what I like best, change things I’d finished earlier for the better and basically construct a final product that I can be happy with.

3. Animation Performs Well.chart.jpg
In many instances animation performs really well for recognition. Although primarily considered as a form of entertainment for children, it has come along way quickly with helps from the likes of Waltz with Bashir, Persepolis, Mihazaki films and Pixar.. I mean what an institution Pixar is today. It’s becoming more and more accessible as the days go on, and I don’t expect that to be stopping by the time I am finished with mine. The ratio of animation being produced alongside film is so small that any participant is stand-out. I’m expecting my film to be pretty unique in terms of its aesthetic, story and overall feeling. Animation does well in awards and festival circuits, as being diverse they like to add a bit of spice to the pot of the thousands of live action movies produced and submitted.

4. The Quality
Today we have the accessibility of fantastic pro-consumer equipment that is available on the market for ridiculously cheap. Crank 2 was filmed by a Canon XH-A1s amongst others which is approximately at this date – $3,000. The much talked about RED camera is ridiculously cheap compared to Panavision, and Arriflex cameras in the past an today a RED camera is approximately £25,000 (body only), pennies really in consideration of the costs of making a film. As a consumer though, $3,000 is not just pennies, it’s $3,000 for one piece of equipment with a standard lens, a very fragile piece of equipment that could shatter if mishandled and dropped, then what? Even with these £3,000 + cameras that look great now, producing stunning HD footage. In cinemas they tend to reel off what’s know as 2K and in some cases 4K. To give some perspective, 2K is a bit bigger thank full HD, so some scaling up occurs when screening, and scaling means bigger pixels (when digital), blurring degradation of the film. As I plan to use computerised animation with digital (computer) cameras, I can have the pick of whatever camera I like, with any interchangeable lens, that I can throw into any scene or situation and wont brake (because it’s not really real). I can have 1 or 100 cameras shooting 100 different angles simultaneously from invisible cranes (they’re the cheapest). And best of all I can output to whatever size I want. I will probable start at 2K but all the project files are re renderable for 4K or higher at a few clicks of a button. I plan to limit myself in some senses as I want a hand and textured aesthetic, I wont have the scalability as say a Pixar film, but I have more than I could possible need. This isn’t one of the most important decisions in why I chose animation, but it certainly added a little weight on the pro-animation side of the scale.

Stay tuned for, ‘Why Animation? Part 2’, coming next Monday.