Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Future of Animation

"We have amazing tools, but they do not create anything; it is really what the filmmakers do with it."

So says John Lassester, the man who's had a hand in almost every single Disney or Pixar animated film since he first directed Toy Story almost 20 years ago. His credits include executive producer of two of 2013's best animated features (Monster's University and Frozen), director of Cars and a Bug's Life, and - my personal favorite - the writer of 2010's emotionally charged, I-swear-I'm-not-crying-right-now film Toy Story 3. The guy knows a thing or two about telling a great story for a visual medium.

This quote, spoken at a panel back in 2012, gives me hope, and quite frankly I'm really glad that I share the opinion of someone in the film industry that I respect so highly. As a culture, so much of our focus seems to be on what's new or what's next. What does the future of cinema look like? How will technology change in the next five years? What will animation look like?

I tend to take a different approach. Don't get me wrong, this new Mac I'm using is perfect for writing and accessing everything I need for school and life in general; I'd be pretty helpless without it. But at a certain point, new technology has to take a backseat to the things that really matter. Toy Story 3 is a beautiful movie. I saw it in 3d and was absolutely blown away by how gorgeous it looked. However, I didn't leave the theatre thinking about the animation or the CGI - I was too focused on the incredible range of emotions that a bunch of toys had managed to stir up within me. Hell, I can't even type out this blog post without getting choked up at the thought of Andy driving away from Bonnie's house, watching as the little girl waves Woody's arm in farewell. And then that pan up, showing that the clouds in the sky are the same as the wallpaper in Andy's room from a movie made 15 YEARS EARLIER? It's perfect. Words can't even describe.

So no matter how much pressure I may feel to buy the newest editing/special effects software (sorry Arturo, I'm not paying hundreds of dollars for a tablet that I'll only use in this class) it's really comforting to know that story still comes first. When I googled "the future of animation" in hopes of coming up with something intelligent to blog about, I had no idea what to expect. Technology is only going to keep getting better, and I'm sure the industry will continue to evolve alongside it. But no matter what changes, story will remain crucial to the process of making any kind of visual medium - animated or otherwise. Precise animation and advanced technology are what made Andy look emotional as he was giving away his childhood toys; but it was what the filmmakers did with that technology that continues to effect me to this day.

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