Monday, September 8, 2014

Cartoons in the Real World

I’ve been trying to determine my feelings toward the trailer for the new Spongebob Squarepants movie. This movie will follow our favorite under the sea characters onto dry land, combining live-action with 3D animation. I think there’s something about bringing cartoon characters into a live-action setting that makes some part of my brain a little uncomfortable. I think this is especially true when a 2D cartoon becomes 3D—it takes a second to get used to, and even after that second it takes a minute. Despite this, whenever animation interacts with live action, I am impressed, and the Spongebob trailer is no exception.

Of course, Spongebob isn’t the first 2D character to become 3D in the real world and definitely not the first to bring cartoon characters to live action. We can’t forget about classics like the live action Scooby Doo franchise or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. What I find interesting is that Who Framed Roger Rabbit doesn’t feel as unnatural and brain-itching as Spongebob or Scooby Doo does, despite its decidedly darker themes. I feel like the juxtaposition of 2D in a 3D world doesn’t feel as wrong because of how obviously the 2D doesn’t fit. Because it makes no attempt to fit in, it doesn’t feel as unnatural as it is. In 3D animation, the characters are designed to masquerade as something that could be apart of the real world by attempting to match the structures of a real life 3D world. Even though the quality of the animation is, I think, really impressive in the Spongebob movie, the characters are still the characters they’ve always been--they’re still brightly colored, they’re still exaggerated. Their cartoon-y characteristics are still very present, but structured and designed to move about in a world that isn’t natural to them.

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