Leadership Within Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar(2010) Pixar is an American animation production company based in California, United States. The company was started in the year 1979 as the part of the computer division of Lucasfilm and was bought by The Walt Disney Company in the year 2006. The company during its 17 years of existence has delivered several movies that has redefined the world of visual technology and animation. Pixar is known for its some of the basic values that form the foundation of its unbeatable success. People at Pixar are extremely talented and there exists an open collaboration among people coming from multiple disciplines. However, a formal structure is followed at the company where it is necessary for every member to ensure enhancement of three inter-related facets of the business, namely, ‘leadership’, ‘process’ and ‘accountability’.

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Leadership is taken very seriously at Pixar and it is ensured that leaders are able to tune their communications, and value the vision of the organization and come up with the ability to provide lots of ideas (Jeremy, 2010) Managers as well as workers of the enterprise have the freedom of expression so that their vision and ideas can be communicated freely that helps the organization to come up with innovative ideas ensuring a sustainable position in the market (Morris, Jeremy, 2010). Another important element of Pixar’s environment refers to its collaborative approach towards work. It is fine to have talented people hired in the company, but it is equally important to make these people work in a motivated manner towards achievement of organizational goals (Milter and Matveev, 2004). At Pixar, everyone is made to understand that his/her success lies in the success of all other members. This helps in moving in a collaborative manner to ensure that everyone working in the company succeeds. The team spirit at Pixar helps in development o fold hires and new hands in a similar fashion with a healthy respect for each other resulting in an environment of credibility and trust prevailing throughout the organization. Apart, from these two elements, accountability forms the foundation of the working environment at Pixar. Leaders and managers at Pixar follow a clear line of accountability that helps them in seeking ways to improve themselves. Every project is headed by a Director/Producer duo, to whom all members of the project are accountable. These directors and producers are in turn accountable to leaders of the company and have the opportunity to utilize the experience and knowledge of senior filmmakers who are the part of top management of the company. In short, Pixar follows a highly structured process aims at fostering a meaningful collaboration resulting in a culture that comprise of value for ability and contribution of others.
Cultural Analysis
Before going for a discussion on cultural analysis, we need to understand the meaning of culture in a proper manner. Various scholars and academicians have given several definitions for culture. Formally, culture has been defined as a pattern of shared beliefs that were developed by a group during the process of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. Martin (2002) explained that everyone knows about the groups, organizations, and societies in which certain beliefs and values prevail at cross purposes with the beliefs of others, resulting in a condition where conflicts and ambiguity prevails in a high degree. This is often the result of insufficient stability prevailing among members, insufficient shared history of experience, or the presence of several subgroups with difference in their personal experiences (Thorngate, 2004). Many a times conflicts and ambiguity also results because of the fact that an individual is not a part of a single groups but belongs to several different groups and this has an impact on the assumptions and beliefs that one brings to a particular group and is influences by the assumptions that re appropriate to some other groups to which an individual belong.
Khan (2005) argued that it is necessary that people are matched with the organization in order to ensure success of the company. There is a set of collective rules through which a company operates, which is termed as the culture of the organization. (Conolly, 2008) explained that employees of the enterprise should be well aware of their workplace that will clearly define appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
In the present paper, an analysis of cross-cultural issues arising out of the merger of The Walt Disney and Pixar will be undertaken. It makes it necessary to understand the meaning of cross-cultural analysis. Under a cross-cultural analysis, an investigation is made into the ways through which people coming from different backgrounds communicate with each other. Whenever any merger takes place there is an amalgamation of the culture of the two organizations participating in the merger (Stening, 2002). Here several cross-cultural issues may arise because of the interaction of people coming from two different groups with different background, beliefs, values and functions. Cross-cultural analysis thrives to harness the utilitarian function of culture in order to use it as a mode of increasing the adaptation of people and bringing an improvement in patterns of communication (Nigel, 2001). It is one of the discipline of international management that focus on cultural encounters, aiming at discovery of methods that can be adopted to handle cultural differences that often give rise to conflicts, ambiguity and miscommunication.
There are several different models that can be used to conduct a cross-cultural analysis. Various models includes those suggested by Hawkins (1992), Terpstra and Sarathy (2000), Hofstede (1994), and Wills (1991). The framework suggested by Hawkins and Terpstra are similar in nature and explains some of the common elements such as values, education and learning, social status and organization. Hawkins has tried to approach culture from the perspective of a consumer lifestyle, while Terpstra approaches culture in somewhat wider contexts. Thus, it is much more easy to use the model suggested by Terpstra and Sarathy. In addition, Hofstede’s model will be used to understand the various dimensions of culture that are based upon individualism, power distance, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. Wills (1991) considered learning as the key element of their model of culture. This will explain the basic idea of culture at Pixar as after the merger with The Walt Disney, the major aim of the company was to establish Pixar as a learning organization. The dimensions of learning are used to consider a model of cross-cultural analysis suggesting a relationship between high/low context of a culture and the rate at which new products are adapted.
In addition, it is to be noted that culture and leadership are interconnected. These are viewed as the two sides of the same coin, in that leaders first create cultures when they create groups and organizations (Edgar, 2004). Once cultures exists they determine the criteria for leadership and thus determine who will or will not be a leader. The unique function of leadership helps in managing the existing culture in case the elements of a culture becomes dysfunctional. Leadership also manages evolution of culture and change in such a way that the group is able to thrive in a changed environment also (Bal, 1999). Thus, it is right to say that it is necessary to understand the culture both for group members as well as for their leaders. The cultural analysis in relation to leadership roles will also be discussed and analyzed for Pixar.
Cross Cultural Issues at Pixar
The Walt Disney acquired Pixar with the view that Pixar would be able to bring some creativity to Disney, which had lost the luster in its animation. However, various major factors of the success of a merger were recognized by both the parties and they emphasized on

The concept of transformational leadership and the importance of its existence for the success of the merger
Creating a new strategic vision and mission for the new organization that is shared by both the parties to the merger
Developing and maintaining learning teams resulting in fostering a learning environment throughout the organization.
Creating and maintain a learning culture throughout the merged organization.

Pixar is well known for its culture of collective creativity. Management think in a way to build capability to recover when some failures occur and not in the direction of preventing the risk. It is believed that smart people are more important as compared to good ideas (Catmull, 2008). The company aims at enhancing the power of creative people and builds a creative culture on the foundation of active feedback among peers. An open culture and communication prevails in the organization where people at all levels support each other and help each other to turn out their best (Catmull, 2008). All members of the organization respect each other and there are very rare cases of any unhealthy conflicts with groups having considerable problem-solving powers that act as an inspiration to be creative and innovative. However, with the merger of Pixar with The Walt Disney, the culture of the two organizations also merged and then arouse several cross-cultural issues that could have resulted in a failure of the merger if not managed properly (Haspeslagh, 2006). The Walt Disney is characterized with a highly regimented culture while Pixar is known for its unique, free-spirited, independent work dynamic culture (Lam; Chi and Lee, 2007). The successful combination of these two totally different cultures was the hallmark for the success of the merger. In case Disney would have made any attempt to get the people of Pixar work under pressure to generate efficiencies, even though the way of increasing its productivity or bringing about an elimination of the overlapping support positions, would have resulted in high rates of turnover with skilled employees leaving the Disney Pixar (Lam and Lee). It is to be noted that many a time sin such highly skilled industries such as animation and communication, people are allowed to let go because of skill gap. However, it is the issue of cultural gap that makes most of the skilled people switch companies frequently in animation and communication industry (Keating, 2006). It is the clear understanding of magnitude of synergies that makes the mergers successful.
Analysis of the cross-cultural issues at Disney Pixar
As discussed in the previous section, to manage cross-cultural issues at Disney Pixar, management concentrated on four important elements of transformational leadership, shared vision, learning team and learning culture. These elements and Disney Pixar’s approach to these are discussed as follows:
Transformational Leadership at Disney Pixar
It is necessary that an organization have transformational leaders in order to develop creative thinking and problem solving to foster organizational growth. Transformational leaders are those who lead through social exchange. They help their followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group and the larger organization (Riggo and Bernard, 2008). It is the elements that can encourage organizations to develop and change more rapidly so as to be able to meet challenges of dynamic and competitive environments.
Disney Pixar followed the approach of defining and developing the transformational leadership. The company decided to follow the approach in order to make employees easily adapt the new culture, which is a mix of the cultures of two organizations. It is believed that creative powers come from creative leadership (Riggo, 2008). It is so because effective leadership helps in effective development of support structures, the necessary resources and access to the experience and knowledge of the top management of the organization. At Pixar, access to the brain trust of the organization was easy for all individuals because of its independent and free-spirit culture. However, it was for Disney’s culture to adopt this key feature in order to be successful in the competitive environment. Transformational leadership was chosen as a route to achieve this objective and make Disney Pixar a learning organization.
Shared Strategic Vision
Another key element ensuring the success of a merger is the sharing of a shared vision of goals and objectives by the merging organization. This helps in providing proper guidance and reducing the anxieties and uncertainties associated with the process of merger. It is necessary in case of a merger to develop an environment of learning throughout the organization. This is possible only if there is an availability of diverse learning teams that are led by leaders who are sharing a common strategic vision. An organization is able to create a sustainable competitive advantage through such a process (Jemison, 2006). This further makes it easy to manage the increasing complexities associated with economies of scale and then competitors find it more difficult to copy a company’s operational methods (Janik, 2006). As explained by Gill (2010), managing through a shared vision proves to be much more productive as compared to the management done through coercion or control. Creation of a shared vision refers to the process where a consensus has to be achieved on the direction of the group and on the desired results. The basic aim is to make the members of a team approach their work with aim of achieving same goals for the future and being guided by same principles. A shared vision is also necessary for developing and fostering learning and change in an organization.
In the case of Disney Pixar, a formal team of leaders was created in order to integrate the two companies. Among these steps, the Vice President of Pixar was appointed as the chief creative officer of Disney’s and Pixar’s animation studios. Despite of his having the authority to “green light” films for both the studios, the ultimate authority to approve rested in the hands of Disney’s CEO. The main aim was to maintain the Pixar’s culture. However, it is not enough to develop teams of leaders. It is necessary that leading teams emerge throughout the organization and leaders try to develop learning of each and every individual about the new cultural values, mission and vision of the organization and the objectives for which the various operations are being carried out in the organization (Gancel and Rodgers, 2002). Every individual is required to have a commitment towards the strategic vision of the merger. There is a need of combining the best skills as two organizations to enhance the sharing of the strategic vision and avoid any cultural issues.
Developing Team Learning
At Pixar, it is believed that providing freedom to take decisions helps in development of teams. People are given full chance to be creative and use their ideas in order to learn from their success or failures. The cofounder of Pixar and his executives gives tremendous authority to their directors. All decision-making authority rests in the hands of teams and no single individual is considered as a decisions making authority. The rule is that the opinions and advice received from the “brain trusts” of directors will be used only as an advice and directors have full authority to refuse their suggestions if it does not fit their plans. However, Disney having a tight control culture, followed an approach where corporate executives micromanage by keeping tight control over budgets and entering in the departments to take final creative decisions. These two different approaches resulted in several cultural issues after the merger. Many of the key employees left the company because of Disney’s dominating cultural values. Ed Catmull, the cofounder of Pixar had recently changed his vision to build the organization where everyone work in the direction of creating a magic even when the directors and cofounders are gone (Prokesh, 2008). This called for a strong transition in the culture of the organization where executives were expected to do something of themselves even when people carrying out the organization were not there. Same was expected out of Disney, and unfortunately Disney’s staff lacked the spirit and failed to develop a strong learning approach towards their work.
Creating a Learning Culture
Traditionally, organizations used to follow a top to down bureaucratic, controlled and narrow approach to management. This approach used to limit the learning process in the organization. In case of a learning organization, new directions of growth and development can be identified and recognized that makes it possible to handle challenges and problems. In today’s competitive global era, diversity and cross-cultural complexities have become the synonymous to the challenges that a business organization face while improving their operational efficiency.
Disney Pixar failed to recognize the method through which an organization can turn into a learning organization (Keating, 2006). The process is being undertaken successfully at Pixar through developing relationships and recognizing the fact that talent is rare and thus its retention is essential. Ed Catmull believes that the assumptions of the organization must be constantly challenged and the search for flaws that can destroy the culture of the organization should not stop throughout the operations of the organization. However, the process could not be undertaken successfully at Disney Pixar and resulted in several cultural issues. The new company was unable to keep Pixar’s talent together as there were vast differences between the cultural values and working styles of the two companies (Haspeslagh, 2006). Management was not successful in creating a learning culture throughout the organization and the unionized culture of Disney may not successfully coexist with non-unionized culture of Pixar.
Disney Pixar has failed at many levels while making the merger successful. The company has taken strong steps to initiate learning in the organization but it is doubtful whether such learning will be institutionalized throughout the organization. Some recommendations to foster learning and avoid any cultural clashes are discussed as follows:
A utilization of differences can be made through the use of matrix strategy. This will help in finding a perfect balance between the competencies of managers of both the companies. In addition communication plays an important role in managing cultural differences (Lodorfos, 2006). Leaders should allow open communication and integration between team members as well as between teams to ensure smooth flow of knowledge and information. This will help in people from both the organization understand each others’ values, beliefs and working style resulting in more respect for each other’s culture (Harding and Rouse, 2006). Treating the partner company members with respect is the key to the success of a merger. Additionally, formal as well as informal training should be provided to the employees of Disney in order to adjust themselves with the open and free culture of Pixar. The decision making authority should not rest in the hands of few authorities and managers must be delegated more and more decision making power as in case of Pixar. Furthermore, Disney and Pixar studios are kept separate in order to reduce the complications. However, it is advised to design a single studio where a combined set of values coming from the combination of the ideas of both the companies should be fostered to ensure success of the merger. This is so because keeping the two parts of the Disney-Pixar merger as separate organizations can create the conditions for separation in future. Such a separation will result in more differences on account of cultural values and style of leading to more clashes and conflicts among the individuals of two companies. Disney-Pixar should aim at developing a learning organization through efficient flow of information and knowledge throughout the organization in order to be successful in future.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that proper management of cultural differences is one of the key factors in success of a merger. Today’s business environment is characterized with an increasing number of organizations desiring to avail the advantage of globalization. Many of the companies take the route of mergers and acquisitions to achieve the objective. Many of such mergers fail due to cultural clashes among people of different organizations. Each of the merged company is required to integrate the corporate cultures of their organizations. It is the leadership style, management styles and communication lines that are necessary to be developed and managed in order to be successful in managing cross-cultural issues. It is evident that there is always a possibility of cross-cultural issues in case of a merger that cannot be avoided at any cost. However, it is possible to manage these issues through developing the organizations into a learning organization in order to foster knowledge sharing throughput the organization resulting a in a successful merger.

Human Resource Planning Paper Assignment Animation Essay

Human Resource planning is a process of developing the strategies of skills of the employees to reach the organizational needs. The role of the Human Resource Planning in a organization is to recruit the right person for right work, and work to meet organizational objectives and make the employees to respond to changes that made in the organization as well as changes made in the outside of the organization. Training and retraining strategies are also including in the Human Resource Planning Process.
Most of the organization wants Human Resource Planning Systems which is simple to understand, where the assumptions that can modified, also which are not take long time. To run such systems organization needs good monitoring action processes, approximate demand models, and an understanding how the resource that works in that organization.
Human Resource Activities:
Staffing: Attract the best Professional and Technical talents which are really organization needs to reach the organization Objectives.
Compensation: To attract that needed talent they should set and give the good salary that will meet or some extra of market rates.
Training and Development: This is the important activity of the Human Resource Team. HR activity is to tell employees about the skill requirements that needed to reach the organization goals and start giving the training needed to improve the skills of the employees in their particular fields.
Employee Relation: Maintaining the good relation between the all employees is very important and to maintain that relation HR has to set Some Basic Employee relation Rules of organization.
I have chosen Vodafone Company to Discuss about Human Resource Planning In this paper. The Role of the Human Resource Planning Team is to create a plan of action to supply the demand. The main 4 steps of the Human Resource Planning Team is to

Set Objectives
Generate Alternatives
Assess Alternatives
Choose Alternative

Vodafone is one of the world’s leading company in mobile telecommunication, with a great presence in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Vodafone is an truly international mobile network company with having more than 260 million customers across the 2 markets and also partner networks in 42 more countries. In the United States this group operates as Verizon Wireless. Vodafone is 1st in UK and 11th globally in the Brands most powerful brands ranking.
Vodafone was started in 1984 under the name of Racal Electronics Plc. After in September 1991 it is demerged from the Racal Electronics Plc and changed the name to Vodafone Group Plc. Again after merging with the AirTouch Communications, Inc., Vodafone Changed its name to Vodafone AirTouch Plc on 29 June 1999. On 28 July 2000 it changed to the former name Vodafone Group Plc.

In January 2007 Vodafone reaches their number of customers to 200 million.
In March 2006 Vodafone customers with 3G is reached to 10 million.
In 2004 Vodafone launches their first 3G service in Europe.
In 2002 Vodafone starts global mobile payment in Germany. This helps customers to buy goods by using the Vodafone mobile.
Also in 2002 only Vodafone Starts the GPRS roaming Service, it helps customers to access e-mails on their phone.
In 2001 Vodafone Introduces SMS.
Vodafone makes the first 3G roaming call in world in between Japan and Spain.

The role of the mobile phone in the society has changed tremendously over the years. Vodafone is having 1,150 directly owned stores, which sell services to new customers upgrade or renew for existing customers and also Vodafone having 6,500 branded stores, which sell Vodafone’s products and services exclusively. And also Vodafone is planning to open 90 more stores in Spain and 21 more stores in Romania during this year.
“Mission Statement/Statement of Values
Vision and Values
Our Vision and Values guide the way we act.
Our Vision
To be the world’s mobile communication leader enriching our customers’ lives through the unique power of mobile communications.
Our Values
Our Values are about the way we do things. They describe the way Vodafone people are expected to behave within the business, to help turn our vision to reality.

Passion for customers: “Our customers have chosen to trust us. In return, we must strive to anticipate and understand their needs and delight them with our service.”
Passion for our people: “Outstanding people working together make Vodafone exceptionally successful.”
Passion for results: “We are action-oriented and driven by a desire to be the best.”
Passion for the world around us: “We will help the people of the world to have fuller lives – both through the services we provide and through the impact we have on the world around us (csr globe)”.

In Vodafone they are providing very good training for their employees to reach their
Goals. The few tasks of the HR Training Developer in Vodafone are:

Perform development, of training materials and user documentation within HR
Perform delivery of super user/train the trainer/end user sessions
Produce training needs analysis as required for HR
Owner of the Finance element of the core training library
Liaison with transformation, and the transition team (vodafone careers)”.

For the “Excellent HR Initiative Award” Vodafone Malta has been selected by the Foundation for Human Resources Development. This award tells that the company’s encouragement for employees towards their career growth and as well as company’s growth. And it tells about the good training that Vodafone is providing to their employees to reach the organization goals.
Vodafone conducts the Performance Management Process to rate the employees. Calibration is an important step in the Performance Management Process to rate the employees in a fair throughout the organization.
Martin Gregory, Vodafone Malta Head of Human Resources, said: “Our people have a big impact on how we perform as a business and on our success. We are proud to be recognized by the Foundation for Human Resources Development for our accomplishments in this area.”
“Matthew Brearley, Director of HR, Comms & Property for Vodafone Ltd talks about building staff momentum and leading through budget cuts in this most modern of giants.
Matthew Brearley was appointed UK HR Director at Vodafone in 2006 having previously worked at British Foods, B&Q and Marks and Spencer. At M&S Matthew’ Brearley’s role involved overseeing the People Strategy and transformation of HR for a workforce of 57,000 employees across 320 stores.Matthew is currently applying his skills and experience to drive performance and efficiencies at Vodafone.
Matthew Brearley holds a key role on the UK board working closely with Vodafone’s UK CEO Nick Read. Matthew Brearleyis truly focussed on HR at the heart of business, how Vodafone must drive through change in an increasingly tight economy, and the critical role of leaders (meettheboss, 2009)”.
The purpose of the HR function in Vodafone is they take the real company strategy and it’s bring into the live organization to the people to build the capabilities and creating the environment and culture. The main Steps in the Human Resource Planning are Forecasting, Inventory, and audit.
“Short-Term Human Resource Planning
Many I/O psychologists work on activities related to designing and implementing programs (e.g., recruitment, selection systems, and training programs) to meet shortterm organizational needs. Such activities generally involve an element of planning in that they are future-oriented to some extent. Even projects for which objectives are expected to be achieved in as little time as a few
months have, ideally, been designed with an understanding of how the short-term objectives are linked to the achievement of longer term objectives. For example, an aeronautics company engaged in a recruitment campaign to hire 100 engineers should have a clear understanding
of how this hiring goal will help the company achieve long-term goals such as becoming the world’s most innovative company in that industry. This hypothetical company also might have a college recruiting drive designed to find 75 college graduates to enter a trainingprogram in recognition of the fact that a growing company needs to prepare for the middle managers it will
need 5 to 7 years hence, as well as the top level managers it will need in 10 to 15 years. As this hypothetical example highlights, in order for a clear linkage to exist between human resource planning and strategic business planning, it is essential that an organization’s top executives have
a fully articulated vision for the future, which has been communicated and accepted by managers throughout the organization.
Long-Term Human Resource Planning:
Increasingly, long-term human resource planning (for beyond three years) is becoming critical to the effective functioning of organizations. The rapidly changing and highly competitive worldwide marketplace is causing firms to turn to their human resources for survival and competitiveness. Because there is a greater understanding that an organization’s work force cannot be turned around
on a dime, long-term human resource planning is gaining currency. It is an activity that demands integration of the skills and knowledge of the human resource planner and all the other executives responsible for strategic planning. Although there are many types of long-term planning efforts, we use succession planning as our primary example of the process (HRPlanning pdf)”.

Review Of The Historical Perspective Animation Essay

This section in my dissertation focuses not on the history of animation per se but on the evolution and progress of animation in films and in particular claymation which is one form of stop-motion animation.
The desire to animate is as old as art itself. Animation is a form of movie magic with its origins in art form. The earliest examples are still drawings, found in Palaeolithic cave paintings depicting animals with multiple sets of legs in superimposed positions, that attempted to convey the illusion of movement. While such images came to life through fairy tales and folk lore, it was only during the 19th century -when inventions were made to make motion picture- that animated pictures became a real possibility.

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A live -action film and an animated film are different because the live -action camera captures a scene moving in real time, automatically freezing into separate still pictures that can then be projected on to a screen. In an animation film, the animator, on the contrary, can not film anything until and unless he/ she creates through drawings(2D animation) or models (3 D animation) or computer imagery every single frame of a film from scratch. While animation is definitely a highly creative medium, it entails time-consuming processes for an animator who should have vision, faith in the concept and creation, abundant patience and capacity for sustained efforts.
The development of devices from crude form to highly technical gadget has played a key role in evolution of animation over the years.
The earliest device to create an image of a moving picture is known as Zoetrope, invented in China around 180 AD. The modern day zoetrope contraption was produced in 1834 by William George Horner and is considered to be the beginning of the animation devices. The device is basically a cylinder with vertical slits around the sides. Around the inside edge of the cylinder there are a series of pictures on the opposite side to the slits. As the cylinder is spun, the user then looks through the slits producing the illusion of motion. Actually, even in present day animation classes for the beginners, the Zoetrope is being used to explain the early concepts of animation.
The magic lantern, believed to have originated from China in the 16th century, is the precursor to the modern day projector. It consisted of a translucent oil painting and a simple lamp. When put together in a darkened room, the image would appear larger on a flat surface.
The most significant early day animation device was Phenakistoscope (1831) disc, invented simultaneously by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and the Austrian Simon von Stampfer. The photographic sequence experiments done by English-born American Eadweard Muybridge in 1872, using 24 still cameras set up along side horse race track, have been of help to later generation of animators.
The animated film took a major step thanks to a sophisticated version of Zoetrope, known as Praxinoscope, invented by French scientist Charles-Émile Reynaud in 1877, a painter of lantern-slides. It used the same basic mechanism of a strip of images placed on the inside of a spinning cylinder, but instead of viewing it through slits, it was viewed in a series of small, stationary mirrors around the inside of the cylinder, so that the animation would stay in place, and provide a clearer image and better quality. After fifteen years of hard work, Reynaud also developed a larger version of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures, that could be projected onto a screen, called the Théâtre Optique, first demonstrated at the Musee Grevin, Paris in 1892, comprising 500 pictures on a transparent strip of gelatin. This was the first animation film entitled ‘Pantomimes Lumineuses’ which lasted up to fifteen minutes. Reynaud’s films were simple tales mainly concerned with love and rivalry. Reynaud used drawings rather than photographic images, and every subsequent animated film using line animation -from Felix the Cat and Micky Mouse to the Rugrats and the Simpsons -is a successor to the moving pictures that he created.
Flip Book, patented in 1868 by a John Barns Linnet, was another development that brought us closer to modern animation. The Flip Book creates the illusion of motion through a set of sequential pictures flipped at a high speed. The Mutoscope (1894) is basically a flip book in a box with a crank handle to flip the pages. 1919 marked the invention of rotoscope.
While Emile Reynaud, showed the first animated film using his Theatre Optique system in 1982, three years later, two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, presented the first authentic demonstration of what we now think of as cinema. Lumiere Brothers’ characters were images of real people and hence overshadowed the Emile Reynaud’s presentations of moving drawings.
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces made by J. Stuart Blackton in 1906, featuring a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, and the faces apparently coming to life, can be termed as the first animated work on standard picture film. This film was released by Vitagraph. Two years later, the French director Émile Cohl (also called Émile Courtet), created Fantasmagorie which was screened for the first time on August 17, 1908 at Theatre du Gymnase in Paris. It was Émile Cohl who relocated to New York City in 1912, spread its technique in the US. Though these animations were rudimentary, ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ in 1914 and ‘Koko the Clown’ in 1919 by Max Fleischer, considered as classics, stepped up the pace of animation films in silent movie era in USA.
The Beautiful Lukanida released in 1912 and conceived by the Russian-born director Wladyslaw Starewicz (later known as Ladislas Starevich) gets the honour of being the first puppet animation film. Neither this film, nor the first animated feature film -El Apóstol, made in 1917 by Quirino Cristiani from Argentina as well as his two other animated feature films, including 1931’s Peludopolis, {the first to use synchronized sound}, have survived the present day. The silhouette-animated Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) directed by German Lotte Reiniger and French/Hungarian Berthold Bartosch is one of the earliest-surviving animated feature. This film used colour-tinted scenes, perhaps for the first time.
The list of other animated films during the silent era included the following films:
‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ made by Winsor Mccay in 1914, ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ in 1918, ‘Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend’ in 1921 by John Randolph Bray who rediscovered some of McCay’s techniques, ‘The Dinosaur and the Missing Link’ by Willis O’Brien in 1915, the first cartoon super star ‘ Felix the Cat in 1919 and ‘The Lost World’ , a stop motion marvel made in 1925. This was followed by the famous ‘Aesop’s Film Fables’ during 1921-1929 created by Paul Terry, released by Van Beuren Studios.
Initially, Walt Disney also made silent cartoons like ‘Laugh-o-Grams’, ‘Alice Comedies’, ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’. Other significant silent era series were ‘ Heeza Liar’, ‘Mutt and Jeff’, ‘Krazy Kat’, ‘Bobby Bumps’ etc.
The notable production houses during this period were: Barre Studio, Bray Productions, Barre-Bowers Studio {The Bray Studios was the first and foremost cartoon studio, housed in New York City-} Many budding cartoonists like Paul Terry of “Mighty Mouse” fame, Max Fleischer of “Betty Boop” fame, and Walter Lantz of “Woody Woodpecker” fame, all statrted their career in this studio.The cartoon studio was based in Circa during 1915-1928. ‘Farmer Alfalfa’ by Paul Terry and ‘Bobby Bumps’ by Earl Hurd were well known cartoons produced by the Bray studios. Fleischer Studios, set up by Max and Dave Fleischer created the Koko the Clown, Out of the Inkwell, and Sound Car-Tunes series. In addition, this era also saw distributors of animated films such as Margaret J. Winkler, Charles Mintz, Educational Pictures, Red Seal Pictures, and Bijou Films.
Although 1930s witnessed a few more animated feature films, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released in 1937 is deemed to be the first animated feature film with sound effects. It could be because Snow White became successful and well-known within the English-speaking world. The first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method was Flowers and Trees (1932) made by Disney Studios which won an academy award for this work. We are all aware how Walt Disney dominated throughout the 1930s, through revolutionary cartoons ‘Silly Symphonies’, ‘Mickey Mouse’, and’ Donald Duck’.
The 1930s, termed as the Golden Era in USA animation also witnessed the emergence of big studios making animation films like Warner Bros, MGM and The Fleischer Studios with their creations like Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons.
Following the golden Age of American animation (1920s through 1950s), animation evolved at a more hectic pace during the television era i.e. 1950s through 1980s. During this period, the theatrical cartoons and feature films declined to some extent. Hanna-Barbara productions did dominate this phase with their TV animated series. Then we saw the emergence of morning cartoons on week ends, adult animation in the 70s, and a slew of commercial cartoons in the 1980s.
The present day animation (1980s onwards) boasts of mind boggling creations most of which are futuristic in concept such as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, the ‘Disney Renaissance’ and Steven Spielberg’s collaborations with Warner Bros like ET, Jurasic Park etc. The Simpsons is one of the most successful series that revived the adult-oriented animation. The other series of this genre is Cartoons Network’s late night animation show ‘Adult Swim’. Many studios all over the world have joined the bandwagon of making animation films for world wide distribution. The rise of CGI , increasing popularity of Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and the Anime explosion which is mainstream version of Japanese animation represent the current scenario in animation.
Stop motion and cel animation are two basic techniques in traditional animation. Stop motion animation, is used for many animation productions using physical objects rather than images of people, as with traditional animation. An object will be photographed, moved slightly, and then photographed again. When the pictures are played back in normal speed the object will appear to move by itself.
Clay animation is one the forms of stop-motion animation. It is the animation of clay models made preferably of plasticine clay. Producing stop-motion animation using clay /plasticine clay is a time consuming and labour intensive process. That is because, to produce a 30 minute stop motion animation movie using clay models, approximately 21,600 times one has to stop to change the figures for the frames. In the case of feature-length films, in addition to clay, rubber silicone and resin-cast components are used to create models. The term Claymation is a registered trade mark in USA, registered by Will Vinton, the greatest pioneer in clay animation. Though foamation, meaning use of foam-rubber process, invented by Will Vinton has found a place in stop motion animation films, it is clay which is the preferred material to bring about aesthetic effect as well. A variant to claymation is the “clay melting” used in Will Vinton’s film ‘Closed Mondays’.
While there are several forms of clay animation, the notable few are:
“Freeform” claymation represents a process wherein the shape of the clay changes significantly as the animation progresses, as exemplified in the films of Eliot Noyes Jr and Ivan Stang.
“Character” Clay animation maintains a recognisable character throughout the shot as in Art Clokey’s and Will Vinton’s works.
The ” Strata -cut animation” entails long bread like loaf of clay packed with varying figures/ images, which is sliced into thin sheets with the camera taking a frame of the end of loaf for each cut as a result of which one could eventually see the movements of internal images within. This technique was pioneered by the German animator Oskar Fischinger during 1920s and 1930s subsequently upgraded by David Daniels in mid-90s as seen in his film Buzz Box.
Clay painting is termed as another form of claymation. This process requires clay to be placed on a flat surface and moved like wet oil paints. This technique results in a seamless merger of stop motion and traditional flat animation.
Early films using stop-motion were the clasic Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, and later The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Sometimes even objects are used, such as with the films of Jan Švankmajer.
Stop motion animation was also commonly used for special effects work in many live-action films, such as the 1933 version of King Kong and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
It was in 1920s, though eight years earlier Edison Manufacturing released a clay animated trick film called ‘The Sculptor’s Welsh Rarebit Dream’, the clay animation films using either cels or the slash system became the dominant mode in animation film production. Although the cel method was preferred for cartoon films by the studios, clay animation was the medium in the well known film called ‘Modelling’ produced by Fleischer Studio in 1921. Joan Gratz, won academy nomination for her clay animation films Creation (1980) and won the Oscar for yet another film ‘Mona Lisa descending a Stair Case made in 1982. Craig Barlett, another Vinton animator was known for variation in clay animation used in his series of short films ‘Arnold’ in the mid 90s. Charles Bowers a comedian with great talent in animation made many bizarre films in the 1920s combining stop-motion animation and comedy.
Academy Award winning short films such as ‘ Closed Mondays’ made by Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner in 1974, ‘The Sand Castle'(1977) and ‘Creature Comforts;’ , produced by Aardman Studios in 1989 and all four Wallace & Gromit films created by Nick Park of Arrdman Animation and last but the least ‘The Presentators’ again filmed by Aardman Animation are typical claymation films.
Clay animation has been creatively employed in several computer games as well viz. The Neverhood, Clay Fighter, Patypus, Primal Rage. Besides TV commercials such as ‘Chevron Cars’, children’s shows in the electronic media in the recent times are dominated by clay animation techniques which are often seen on Cartoon Network. Computer graphic image of clay animation is presented in a film called ‘ Flushed Away’.
What has caused a real revolution in animation industry is the Computer -generated imagery- abbreviated as CGI. It is significantly different from traditional animation because the drawings (known as 2D animation) in traditional animation gave way to 3D Modeling which is the virtual version of stop-motion. CGI combines these two forms of animation through computer aided animation but on 2D Computer drawing. CGI is as tedious as the traditional animation and many of the underlying principles of traditional animation are used albeit through computer aided software programmes.
Most of the characters employed in CGI films are based on animal characters, monsters, machines or cartoon-like humans. The latest rend is to create realistic-looking humans. The notable animation films of this genre are Films are ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in 2001’, ‘Final Fantasy: Advent Children’ in 2005, ‘The Polar Express’ in 2004, and ‘Beowulf’ in 2007. The constraint in this method of animation is to create the nuances and details of a living person if one has to make a realistic CG character; in particular, to synchronise the movement of the hair and clothing with the animated human character.
Cel shading is a type of rendering, known as non photorealistic rendering, to make computer graphics appear to be hand-drawn. A recent development and a comples process, this is generally applied to mimic the style of a comic book or cartoon. The console video games use cel- shaded animation in addition to computer graphics. The material used in cel- shaded animation is the clear sheets of acetate , called cels. Some animators consider Cel -shaded animation as “2.5 D form of animation”, a via media between 2D and 3D animation. It was only the console video games which shows the true real-time cel-shading as seen in Sega’s Jet Set Radio launched in 2000 for their Dreamcast console. This style of animation was used in Freedom Project in 2006.
As in the western countries, the roots of animation in India are in Indian Cinema. In the early 20s, Dadasaheb Phalke, arguably one of the founders of Indian Cinema, {in whose name a prestigious award has been instituted to honour every year outstanding contribution in the field of cinema}, match sticks and a stop-motion camera to create a short film which was unfortunately not distributed for public viewing. After a lot of struggle, he succeeded in making a stop motion film ‘The Growth of A Pea Plant’ in 1912, marking the beginning of animation in films in India. However, the first animation film ever released in a theater was ‘ The Pea Brothers’ produced by New Theatres Limited, and directed by Gunamoy Banerjee, and released on June 23, 1934. It took nearly seventeen years to produce the next animation film called ‘Jumbo The Fox’ coming from Ranjit Movietone and released in 1951. In the same year, another animation from New Theatres, ‘Michke Potash’, directed by Bhaktaram Mitra was released. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting , Government of India set up a Cartoon Film Unit as part of its Filns Division to promote animation films. This unit produced in 1956 ‘Radha and Krishna’, a 22 minute film based on cel animation, directed by J.S. Bhownagary. It is believed that camera movements over the miniature paintings of Indian art were employed to create the animation. This film won prestigious awards in International Film Festival held in Berlin. Films Division had a team of animators like Kantilal Rathore, Pramod Pati, G.K. Godbole, and V.G. Samant, along with Ram Mohan, Bhimsain, Satam, Suresh Nayek. A film which impacted animation in India was ‘Kalpana’, made in 1948, directed by the legendary dance maestro Uday Shankar, although it was not an animation film. Because, the use of feet movement, film language with rhythm and melody skillfully synchronized appealed to all the film makers including Satyajit Ray & Mrinal Sen, doyens of Indian Cinema.  

A History Of American Animated Cartoons Animation Essay

Rotoscoping was invented by Max Fleischer in the year 1915 with the help of his brother Dave Fleischer. The first character created using the rotoscoping technique was KOKO the clown in 1917, with live reference being taken from his brother who dressed in clown suit. After his success in rotoscoping they started a company called Fleischer Studios.
Fleischer Studios
Initially, Fleischer started by producing his films for The Bray Studios and later in 1921, Max and his brother Dave established Fleischer Studios to produce animated cartoons and short films; Max was the producer in the beginning. Koko and Fitz are their outcome series from Fleischer Studios. Later it was Fleischer studios who invented even the bouncing ball technique. They used this technique for their animated series “KoKo Song Car-Tune”, in which a ball bounces from word to word to sing along the series. Fleisher made a 40-minute educational feature film for explaining Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in the year 1923 using live action animation and special effects.
Fleischer Film Studioslocated at 1600 Broadway overlooking Times Square in New York City.
In his several cartoons, he had soundtracks featuring live or rotoscoped image of the leading jazz performers of the time, most notably Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Don Redman. After that, they used rotoscope in many of their later cartoons like Betty Boop in 1930 – they did Cab Calloway dance using this technique. In Gulliver travel, 1939, they did Gulliver’s character using rotoscope technique, and in Superman cartoon, they animated Superman and the other characters in realistic movement.
Betty boops
Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930 in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, the sixth episode of Fleischer’s Talkartoon series. The character was modelled after a combination of the famous singer, Helen Kane and popular actress, Clara Bow of 1920. Clara became trademark of Betty because of her strong Brooklyn accent. Betty Boop became the star of the Talkartoon by 1932, and was given her own series in that same year beginning with Stopping the Show. Betty appeared in the first colour classic cartoon in Poor Cinderella ‘Betty only theatrical colour appearance’ in 1934.
Betty Boops was created by Fleischer studios and distributed by paramount star.
Betty Boop as sex symbol
Betty Boop is the first and most famous sex symbol on the animated screen. Betty’s popularity was largely from adult audiences. It contains many sexual elements in the series like Talkartoon, Minnie and Moocher, Cab Calloway and his orchestra. The Talkartoon was replaced by the Betty boop series, which continued for 7 years. Betty Boop is the one of the important characters in the history of animation for being the first cartoon character to represent fully as sexualized woman.

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Betty boop wore short dresses showing cleavage, high heels and greater belt, with a certain girlish quality. In Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle, she dressed hula topless, wearing only a lei and a grass skirt, which she repeated in her cameo appearance in the first Popeye cartoon, Popeye the Sailor (1933). Her “Bamboo Isle” performance was also included in the short Betty Boop’s Rise to Fame, featuring a staged interview with Max Fleischer.
Walt Disney used the rotoscoping technique for their movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarf in 1937. After success of Snow White, the Disney used rotoscoping technique in many of their movies like Cinderella in 1950, in which they used the human character to animate Cinderella. Later on, they used this technique mainly to study human motion, animal motion, etc.
Digital Rotoscoping
The digital rotoscoping technique was invented by smoking car productions in the year 1994 for the creation of ‘The last express’ adventures video game.
The interpolated rotoscoping was invented by Bob Sabiston in the mid 1990’s. He was an animator and a computer scientist at MIT media lab. Later director Richard Linklater used that technique to produce his feature film, Walking Life in 2001 and a scanner Darkley in 2006. He is the first director to use digital rotoscoping to create an entire feature film.
When they first introduce the rotoscoping technique, a lot of animators opposed because they believed that the process stiffened the animation. A few believed that it could change the proportion of the animation, by giving a live action for the actors in it, to make the characters realistic and exaggerated.

Fleischer, Richard (2005): Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0-8131-2355-0
Maltin, Leonard (1987): Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Penguin Books.

Image reference

In 1914,Max Fleischerinvented therotoscope http://www.animationarchive.org/labels/upa.html
Popeye and Max Fleischer, animation genius. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_WriF8m2mVt0/R2tkqfSdVCI/AAAAAAAAA3A/K-wR_IFvF-U/s1600-h/popeye.jpg
Fleischer Film Studios located at 1600 Broadway overlooking Times Square in New York City. http://bettyboopspenthouse.com/images/bettys_studio.jpg


The Birth And Growth Of Anime Animation Essay

Anime, as an art form, has swept the world. It was “born” early in the 1900’s and has flourished. There are hundreds of series and movies, some of which are famous in their own right, like Pokemon, with world-wide recognition when it is mentioned. 
Anime is actually taken from the word animation and has become the word used by the majority of the world.  In Japan this art form is called Japanamation, and it refers solely to what is produced in Japan by Japanese Manga-kas (A “ka” is the writer of a Manga, which is a Japanese comic book). The story from the comic book is then produced in animated form for movies and television.

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  The world-wide popularity of Disney’s first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, sparked an interest in Japan’s cartoonists to create their own version of animated stories.  Shimokawa Oten was one of the first animators in Japan, being responsible for five movies back in the early 1900’s.  Unfortunately, ill health prevented him from continuing and he returned to working as a cartoonist instead of producing movies.  Jun’ichi Kouchi did caricatures and some painting.  In 1916, he was hired by Kobayashi Shokai as a cartoonist.  His work was considered to be more technically advanced than any other Japanese animator and he is credited with at least 15 movies.
It is generally accepted that the first Anime-type cartooning began being produced in the very early 1900’s.  However,
In July, 2005, an old animation film was found in Kyoto.  This undated 3 seconds film, plainly titled Moving Picture, consists of fifty frames drawn directly onto a strip of celluloid.  The discoverer, Naoki Matsumoto, has speculated it could be “up to 10 years older” than the previously first known Japanese animation, Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki, released in 1917.   (B 2)
This earlier date is a distinct possibility, but cannot be proven.
Japanese animators had many difficulties, including competition with producers such as Disney. They found it difficult to work in small companies with only a few employees, and still produce quality films. High costs and lack of adequate materials made it hard for the Japanese animators to produce work that could compete in the world market. 
Anime was seen as a means to provide more inexpensive entertainment than live action films.  It is much easier to draw special effects than to create them in real life, since there is not the expense of a large human cast and possibly highly- trained animals that are all waiting around while other scenes are being shot.
The idea for the big eyes that are an Anime trademark came from Disney’s style of animation in several of his original films, most notably Bambi with his large, expressive eyes.
There was a war on at the time, and producing animated entertainment was much cheaper than live action films. When the animated part was finished, actors were called in to do the voice-overs which did not require so many retakes, and if retakes were necessary, not so many people were involved at each stage.  Each actor could be called in to record their parts completely separate from each other, or a few at a time, but it wasn’t necessary to have everyone there at once
Anime has become a cohesive influence between the Asian people and the rest of the world.  It is amazing how this form of entertainment is embraced by so many people from such diverse cultures. 
During the war the Japanese military commissioned propaganda films, showing “the sly, quick Japanese people winning against enemy forces” (C 3). 
When compared to other forms of animation, Anime is seen by many viewers as the best.  Case in point, the various incarnations of Transformers. That is just one story done many different ways. Anime has many different stories within the main category of giant machines. Some of these stories are Zoids, Evangelion, and the various series of Gundam. Mickey Mouse, for example, is a series of individual stories with only the characters in common; there is no timeline. The Zoids series is a clearly ongoing story that has evolved over the years. As in Chaotic Century (Series 1) the main character, Van Flyheight, was the pilot of a blue Blade Liger.  In Zoids New Century Zero (Series 3) the Blade Liger has now become Liger Zero, a much more advanced machine with a great deal more power. It is widely accepted that this pilot, Bit Cloud, is the descendant of the original pilot, Van. Clearly these stories continue on through generations. Transformers is a story that remains static and does not evolve through time. The designs have changed a lot over time, but the story characters are still the same as in the beginning. 
Anime has branched out into the sports world and stories have been created involving sports figures in the 1980’s. Other sports series followed, including Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis and Eyeshield 21.
Several experimental films were produced in the 1980’s becoming more and more ambitious and trying to outclass other films. However, these lavishly budgeted spectacles were not able to recoup the production costs and many Anime studios failed.
During the 1990’s, Pokemon came on the scene.  It became wide spread because of the trading card games, toys, Anime movies etc. Currently there are 493 species, about 40 of which are present in Picture 1.  Sailor Moon, which started in 1992, became very successful because of its magical girl theme.  In the 2000’s, the story plots have changed to be more sexually attractive, involving outrageously handsome or beautiful characters along with nudity. In my opinion, this has compromised the artistic integrity of Anime and Manga.
Anime has extended its influence into the Western and European markets in the way emotions are expressed. For instance, if the scene includes a “jaw-drop” moment, the character will actually be drawn with their jaw dropping to the floor and their eyes bugged out in an exaggerated way. This helps convey to the viewer a greater sense of what’s happening without using words. As shown below, Robin’s jaw has hit the floor. He also appears to have been hit in the head by someone else’s jaw.
(Here, the Roadrunner has gotten away yet again. Wiley needs a new hobby.)
Anime has exerted a strong influence in other forms of animation.  In France, two shows were produced, named Totally Spies and Martin Mystery.  In both of these cartoons, there is a lot of facial body-language used, as previously mentioned, much of which is inspired by Anime.  In America there is Teen Titans which uses a lot of exaggerated expressions to enhance the story, or simply to provide humour. 
There are perhaps ten or more conventions in the United States during any given year.  As with Star Trek Trekkies, the fans who attend these “cons” will dress up in costumes representing their favourite character.  Many Otakus, the Anime counterpart of a Trekkie, will speak, behave and try to appear as much in character as possible. These attendees take this dressing up and character role playing very seriously. They spend a lot of money and time getting their costumes accurate to the tiniest detail.  Thousands of people attend these “cons” and some will attend as many as they can possibly afford or are able to get to. Available at nearly every con are toys, games, posters, CD’s, boxed collections of episodes or movies, jewellery, and any piece of clothing a character’s face can be applied to. Not all of these items will be present at every con. Many of the more obsessive Otakus will fill their homes with these items, and will wear some Anime related clothing wherever possible.  Otakus, like anyone who follows some particular fandom, range from the merely interested to the addicted person who has no life apart from Anime.
Japan seems to have only one big convention every year, perhaps because Japan is small in size and has a public transportation system which would enable anyone, anywhere in Japan, to travel fairly easily to the convention location.
Anime is a controversial type of animation that does not appeal to everyone, but those who like it are utterly loyal and will not stand for insults, defending it vehemently. It is one of the longest lasting world-wide fads. Here’s to seeing it through another century!

Motion Graph for Character Animation

Motion Graph for Character Animation: Design Considerations
Animating human character has become an active research area in computer graphics. It is really important for development of virtual environment applications such as computer games and virtual reality. One of the popular methods to animate the character is by using motion graph. Since motion graph is the main focus of this research, we investigate the preliminary work of motion graph and discuss about the main components of motion graph like distance metrics and motion transition. These two components will be taken into consideration during the process of development of motion graph. In this paper, we will also present a general framework and future plan of this study.
motion graph; distance metrics; motion synthesis; character animation; motion transition
I. Introduction
For many years, character animation has become one of the active research areas in computer graphics, and it had been used widely in film and games industries. In this paper the word character refers the human body with the articulated joints in a hierarchical form. Nowadays, motion capture is a popular method to animate the character. It can generate a believable motion in shorter time with less computation time compared to traditional methods like kinematics.

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Although the result of animation that is produced from motion capture is good, there are some reasons that we need to reuse and edit the motion capture data. The main reason is the cost of software and the equipment for motion capture system are very expensive [1]. In addition, the motion capture records all the movements according to the actor’s movements. If we want to use a slightly different action from the original action, we need to do the editing process for motion data. We also need to edit the data if we want to create the impossible or difficult actions. Sometimes, in some motion like repetitive motions; the real motion cannot be perfect. If we want to use exact cyclic motions we need to alter and edit the data. The interaction with the other motion such as clothing also can be one of the reasons we need to reuse and alter the data [2]. The reusability of motion capture data means that the animator can create required motions by reusing motion data repeatedly and editing the motion data.
Generally, motion editing can be defined as a process to produce a new motion by changing or combining a number of motions. Motion transition, motion blending and motion interpolation are parts of motion editing operation that need at least two motions as inputs. In contrast, joint repositioning, retargeting, smoothing and style manipulation only need one motion as an input.
Motion blending allows the animator to change the simple motion to complex motion and creates longer motion duration. Motion blending is used for many reasons such as in creating a transition process for two motions that are very widely used in computer game development. A transition is usually used only for changing from one motion to another motion and it is used for a certain transition length. During a transition process, two motion clips will be combined by eliminating the discontinuity at the boundary between two motions. There are many factors that must be considered in motion transition, but the main factor is how to make a realistic and natural transition.
One of the common ways to reuse and editing motion capture data is known as the Motion Graph. In this paper, we focus on several components that need to be considered for creating the character animation using motion graph. Discussion of this paper is as follows: Section 2 explains the overview for motion graph. Section 3 discusses several main components in motion graph such as distance metrics and motion transition. Section 4 provides the general framework for motion graph, followed by Section 5 that concludes this paper and state a future research direction.
II. Background
In this section, we will give the overview and investigate the preliminary work of motion graph and discusses several main components in motion graph.
A. Motion Graph
The basic idea of motion graph is to seamlessly connect a motion in a database using a transition [1]. The graph structure called a motion graph will be produced. In the motion graph, edges correspond to motion clips and nodes represent as points that connect the clips (see 1).
The development of motion graph is inspired by the work of video textures, which is used to maintain the original motion sequences and played back in non repetitive streams [8]. Motion graph is a very popular technique to animate the character for real-time applications and off-line sketch-based motion synthesis [9-12].
Based on the annotated bibliography paper that had been published by Gleicher, there are three research work that marked as the first original “motion graph” in computer graphics community [13]. These three approaches are proposed by Kovar et al. [1], Arikan and Forsyth [3], and Lee et al. [4]. These three approaches share the same basic idea that is develop a graph from motion database and search the graph to generate a motion that follows the user objective. However, they used a different technique for some places such as on the technique to create transition, search the graph and the distance metrics.
In previous work, we can see that many researchers combine motion graphs and interpolation techniques [16-20]. These techniques divide motions into similar behaviour and then group similar segments to create interpolation and smooth transitions. Sang et al [21] divide motion into short segments and arranged them into nodes in graph and blend them to create locomotion in real-time. Taesoo and Sung [19] construct automated motion graph for locomotion. Treuille et al. used a simple graph structure to generate real-time character animation [5]. They create near-optimal controllers to guide the virtual character based on the user goal by using a low-dimensional basis representation.
For testing and evaluation process, there are several approaches that have been proposed by previous researchers to check the performance of their propose technique. As stated by [6], the evaluation process of motion graph can be classified into two categories. The first category is to evaluate the motion graph based on the individual transitions. It also can be evaluated by analyzing the resulting animation. There is a number of studies that depends on human input to measure the quality of synthesized motions [7, 8]. The statistical models also are used by [9, 10] to evaluate the quality of motions. Reitsma et al. introduced a method of evaluating a data structured especially motion graphs [11].
III. Distance Metrics
Normally, to create transition between very different motions is very difficult. On the other hand, if two motions are similar or nearly similar, a transition is easily to generate using simple interpolation method. For that reason, the motions are need to be compare by using a good motion similarity technique before the transition can be generated. This motion similarity technique can be refer as distance metrics.
Distance metrics is one of the important components that had been used by many researchers in motion editing [1, 3, 12, 13]. In motion graph, distance metrics are used to detect the similar frames for choosing the transition points. From this transition points, the transition can be created between the motion clips. Point clouds, metrics based on joint angles and principle components are the main types of distance metrics in motion graph [14].
A. Distance Metrics based on Joint-Angles
Since the motion data are represented by the joint angle of a skeleton, calculation using this method is easier than other distance metrics method. However, using this distance metrics method, we need to set a weight as a measure. Lee et al. and Arikan et al. are some of the researchers that used this distance metrics [3, 4]. The following formula shows how Lee et al. calculates the differences of joint angles [4].
= distance between frame i and frame j
= weighted differences of joint angles
= weighted differences of joint velocities
= weights velocity differences with respect to position differences
The weighted differences of joint angles can be expressed as follows:
= the root joint position of the character at frame i
= the root joint position of the character at frame j
= the orientation of joint k at frame i
= angle that k joint rotates from the orientation of frame i to the orientation of frame j
= quaternion that represents the orientation of the k joint at frame i.
B. Distance Metrics based on Point-Clouds
In point-clouds distance metrics, two frames of motion and its neighbouring frames will be converted into point clouds form. The distance between these two point clouds can be measured by applying the sum of squared Euclidean distance between the corresponding points in the two point clouds. In order to solve the problem of finding the point clouds coordinate systems, the minimal weighted sum of squared distances will be calculated [1]. The distance metrics equation can be defined as:
= kth point in the point clouds for frame Mi and M′j,
= kth point in the point clouds for frame Mi and M′j,
k = joint index
= rigid transformation composed of a rotation by θ degrees about the y (vertical) axis followed by a translation of (x0, z0) in the floor plane.
= the frame weight
Based on the evaluation process that had been done by Basten et al for these three main distance metrics: joint-angle, point clouds and principal component, there are several advantages and disadvantages for these distance metrics [14] (See Table I). The comparison criteria that they used to evaluate these distance metrics are path deviation and foot skating. Table II shows the types of distance metrics and transition methods that had been used by several researchers in their motion graph method.
TABLE I. Advantages and disadvantages of distance metrics [14]
Distance Metrics
Advantages and
Based on joint angles
* Good for path planning in highly constrained areas
* Least path deviation
* Least foot skating
* Path deviation is highest
* Slowest search
Principle Component
* The graph is faster
* No need to set a weight
* Lower path deviation than point-cloud
* Slightly slower
TABLE II. Distance metrics and transition method
Comparison Method/Distance Metrics
Transition Method
Point Cloud
Based on joint angles and velocities
cuts and adding displacement maps
Based on joint angles velocities + Joint Accelerations
cuts and adding displacement maps
Point cloud + joint position, joint velocities, joint acclerations
Joint angles + dynamics-based
IV. Creating Transitions
In motion graph, after the distance metric is measured to find poses that are similar, this metric will be applied in the database to find all the possible transitions. If the metric is below some threshold, the transition can be created. There are many types of transition method in the motion graph. By making jump cuts and adding displacement maps, Arikan et al. and Lee et al. are able to create a transition in their motion graph method [3] [16]. Kovar et al. using a simple linear blending to generate a transition between the frames [1].
As stated by Wang and Bodenheimer, blending is one of the ways for creating transition [8]. It can be referred to as a temporary blend that used to change from one motion to other motion. During the process of motion transition from one motion to another, motion blend will be started in a certain transition length. The length of motion blend is determined depending on the blended motions. They also stated that linear blending is a common technique for creating transitions. Linear interpolating and linear blending are suitable to be used for the application that need the efficiency and speed which has low computational weight.
However, there are some drawbacks using this method. It is still hard and need a significant manual labor for generating a good transition using blending [8]. It is still critical to determine the blend length and transition points in the clips. To solve this problem, Wang developed the geodesic distance method and the velocity method for determining an optimal blend length for motion transitions [17]. These methods can be used for many different types of motion. The geodesic distance method is suitable for locomotion motions such as walking and running. On the other hand, velocity method is used for unpredictable motions such as dancing and boxing.
V. General Framework
In this section we discuss about a general framework for animating the character using motion graph (see 2). Most of the decisions for designing the framework are based on the previous works of numerous researchers. For each motion clip in the motion database, we will use more than 100 motion clips which contained with one walk cycle. For the process of locating transition points, most of previous works use a point-cloud method to compare and find the similar frames in the motion clip. With a slight modification of point cloud method, we will adapt this approach in our motion graph. The simple linear blending will be used to create a faster transition which is important for creating a controllable motion graph. Since the blending transition can produce the artifacts such as foot-skate, we will solve this problem with suitable foot-skate cleanup method.
VI. Conclusions and Future Works
In this paper we investigate the preliminary work of motion graph and compare the motion graph components like distance metrics and transition methods. These two components are part of the issues that we need to consider during the process of development of motion graph. Distance metrics will be our future direction.
The author wishes to convey their innermost gratitude and appreciation to Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) under ScienceFund grant (01-01-06-SF0387) for providing financial support of this research.
[1] Kovar, L., et al., Motion graphs. ACM Trans. Graph., 2002. 21(3): p. 473-482.
[2] Michael, G., Animation from observation: Motion capture and motion editing. SIGGRAPH Comput. Graph., 2000. 33(4): p. 51-54.
[3] Arikan, O. and D.A. Forsyth, Interactive motion generation from examples. ACM Trans. Graph., 2002. 21(3): p. 483-490.
[4] Lee, J., et al., Interactive control of avatars animated with human motion data, in Proceedings of the 29th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques. 2002, ACM: San Antonio, Texas.
[5] Treuille, A., Y. Lee, and Z. Popovi, Near-optimal character animation with continuous control. ACM Trans. Graph., 2007. 26(3): p. 7.
[6] Matsunaga, M., Zordan, V.B., A Dynamics-based Comparison Metric for Motion Graphs. Computer Graphics International (CGI) 2007., 2007.
[7] S. A. Reitsma, P. and N. S. Pollard, Perceptual metrics for character animation: sensitivity to errors in ballistic motion. ACM Trans. Graph., 2003. 22(3): p. 537-542.
[8] Wang, J. and B. Bodenheimer, Computing the duration of motion transitions: an empirical approach, in Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics symposium on Computer animation. 2004, Eurographics Association: Grenoble, France.
[9] Wang, J. and B. Bodenheimer, An evaluation of a cost metric for selecting transitions between motion segments, in Proceedings of the 2003 ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics symposium on Computer animation. 2003, Eurographics Association: San Diego, California.
[10] Liu, R., et al., A data-driven approach to quantifying natural human motion. ACM Trans. Graph., 2005. 24(3): p. 1090-1097.
[11] Reitsma, P.S.A. and N.S. Pollard, Evaluating motion graphs for character navigation, in Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics symposium on Computer animation. 2004, Eurographics Association: Grenoble, France.
[12] Heck, R. and M. Gleicher, Parametric motion graphs, in Proceedings of the 2007 symposium on Interactive 3D graphics and games. 2007, ACM: Seattle, Washington.
[13] Leslie, I., A. Okan, and F. David, Quick transitions with cached multi-way blends, in Proceedings of the 2007 symposium on Interactive 3D graphics and games. 2007, ACM: Seattle, Washington.
[14] Basten, B.J.H.v. and A. Egges, Evaluating distance metrics for animation blending, in Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Foundations of Digital Games. 2009, ACM: Orlando, Florida.
[15] Matsunaga, M., Zordan, and V.B. A Dynamics-based Comparison Metric for Motion Graph. in Computer Graphics International (CGI). 2007.
[16] Lee, J. and S.Y. Shin, General Construction of Time-Domain Filters for Orientation Data. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2002. 8(2): p. 119-128.
[17] Jing, W., Synthesizing and evaluating data-driven motion transitions. 2005, Vanderbilt University. p. 114.
[18] Kovar, L., J. Schreiner, and M. Gleicher, Footskate cleanup for motion capture editing, in Proceedings of the 2002 ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics symposium on Computer animation. 2002, ACM: San Antonio, Texas.

The Pioneers In Animation Animation Essay

Animation has its roots in traditional art. Its evolution over the years has been facilitated by not only artists but also visionaries and technically skilled experts. Presented below are the noteworthy pioneers and their creations that helped animation reach unprecedented heights as we see today.
It was in 1895, three years after Emile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures, showed the first animated film in Theatre Optique system, devised by him, that two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, presented the first authentic demonstration of what we now think of as cinema. Lumiere Brothers’ characters which were images of real people became a better alternative to the Emile Reynaud’s presentations of moving drawings. Georges Melies, a fantasy filmmaker- the maker of Voyage to the Moon (1902), was prided himself as ‘stage-illusionist’ and used the medium of cinema as a natural extension of his magical arts with their transformations, and mysterious disappearances. Many of the visual tricks employed in his fantasy film Voyage to Moon were achieved by ‘stopping the film’, altering the image and photographing the new scene. This later became one of the basic techniques of 3-D animation films. Hence, arguably, George could be termed as the first filmmaker to use Stop Action {or Stop Motion}.

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Stuart Blackton, a Briton, is the pioneer in “Chalk Animation”. His work in Humorous Phases of Funny Faces”, made in 1906, is based essentially on line animation. It is commonly known that the first animated work on standard picture film was Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) by Blackton. It features a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, with the faces apparently coming to life. Blackton’s process of drawing a picture, photographing it, rubbing a part of it out and then redrawing it was the most basic use of the stop-motion technique. Blackton, along with Albert E Smith, had employed stop motion photography to create wonderful effects in his 1907 live -action film ‘The Haunted Hotel’. He is credited with the making of the first stop motion puppet film ‘The Humpty Dumpty’.
British film maker Arthur Melbourne Cooper also claimed having made the first ever puppet animated film. Cooper is also perhaps the maker of the world’s first animated commercial film using stop -motion photography in his film ‘The Matches: An Appeal’, a film of ‘moving matchsticks’ produced way back in 1899. Copper’s other notable creations were ‘Cindrella’ (1912), ‘Wooden Athletes’ (1912) and The Toymaker’s Dream (1913).
Another pioneering effort in stop-motion techniques was that of Parisian caricaturist and film maker Emile Cohl who in his film ‘Fantasmagorie,’ depicting the adventures of a little clown, drawn as a rudimentary stick figure, used some two thousand drawings which ran for under two minutes.
Those animators who used the puppet model (the other method being clay model) as the basis of their 3D Animation were Giovanni Pastrone {‘The war and the Dream of Momi’} and Wladyslaw Starewicz {‘ The Magic Clock’, ‘Love in Black and White’}. Starewicz had enormous passion for drawings and sculpture and was influenced by Emile Cohl’s 1908 film ‘The Animated Matches’. He later became known as Ladislas Starevich (after he moved over to Paris) and is till date acclaimed as the pioneering puppet animator because he created the first puppet-animated film -‘The Beautiful Lukanida’ (1912). His cast of insect characters appeared in a series of modern fables viz. ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’, featuring tiny miracles as a grasshopper on a bicycle and a dragonfly ballet dancer. Other well known puppet films of Starevich were ‘Town Rat’, ‘Country Rat’ and the ‘Tale of Fox’. Charlie Chaplin is one of the several Hollywood -inspired performers in ‘Love in Black and White’ (1927) by Ladislas Starevich. ‘The Mascot'(1934) showcased Starevich’s live action story with toys.
Quirino Cristiani from Argentina is the maker of possibly the first animated feature film -‘El Apóstol’, in 1917. He also directed two other animated feature films, including 1931’s ‘Padeopilis’ the first to use synchronized sound. None of these, however, survive to the present day. German Lotte Reiniger and French/Hungarian Berthold Bartosch were the directors of the earliest-surviving animated feature, which used colour-tinted scenes, in their silhouette-animated Adventures of Prince Achmed’ (1926).
Jan Svankmejer brought to the cinema the theatrical skills of masks and puppets through his first film ‘The Last Trick’ (1964) -he was clearly inspired by Ladislas Starevich’s ‘The Mascot’, made nearly three decades earlier. Svankmejer’s films often combined animation with live action, as in ‘Alice’ and his other feature film ‘Faust’ (1994). Svankmejer is regarded as an undisputed renegade of animation art because he had a penchant for pixillating live actors or manipulating china dolls. Some of his macabre creations were joints of uncooked meat or as in ‘Dimensions of Dialogue’ (1982) in which he formed two lumps of deathly-grey clay which form themselves into heads and then eat and regurgitate another! The heritage of Svankmajer’s animation films was the motivating factor behind many of the earliest puppet movies.
The Russian animator Alexander Ptushko was yet another trend setter in 1930s. ‘The New Gulliver’ made by him in 1935 includes scenes filmed in camera (unlike the usual method of creating through optical techniques in processing,) incorporating a live actor and some 3000 puppets. The other feature films made by Ptushko combining animation and live action were ‘The Fisherman and the Little Fan’ (1937) and ‘The Little Golden Key’ (1939).
Yet another well known name in stop -motion animation was Hungarian born animator George Pal, maker of a classy film, ‘The Ship of the Ether’ featuring the voyage of a ship made from blown glass. Pal worked in the biggest puppet -animation studio in Europe and created a series on fairy tale subjects and also produced short entertainment films for commercial sponsors such as Philips Radio, Unilever, and Horlicks. He is the creator of the theatrical shorts called ‘Puppetoons’ from his studio in America. One of the most popular characters of Pal was a little black boy named Jasper who appeared in nearly twenty films such as ‘Jasper Goes Fishing'(1943)’, ‘Jasper and Beanstalk'(1945) and ‘Jasper in a Jam'(1946).Those who followed Pal and made successful careers in puppet films were Joop Geesink and Ray Harryhausen. Some of the notable films made by them were ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘The Story of Rapunzel’, and ‘The Story of King Midas’.
Jiri Trnka, the Czech animator, was an illustrator beyond comparison who created what is known as ‘Disneyfied’ characters in such folk tale films as ‘Grandpa Planted a Beet'(1945) and ‘The Animals and the Brigands'(1946). He later became the maker and operator of marionettes- animating the puppets. Arguably, ‘The Emperor’s Nightingale’ was a masterpiece film made by Trnka based on Hans Anderson fairy tale. Trnk’s last film ‘The Hand’ (1965) featured the central character with a typical impassive face and dressed to look like a pierrot. With an outsized head, a beaky nose and two large soulful eyes, he is clearly the comic tragedian.
Trnka’s creative heirs were Brestilav Pojar (‘Lion and Song’) and the Japanese animator Kihachiro Kawamoto (‘Demon’, ‘A Poets Life’, ‘House of Flame’). In recent times, the puppet animation scaled greater heights through the films made by BBC and the British and American television companies with makers like Jim Henson {‘Seasame Street’ and ‘The Muppet Show’}. Garry Anderson who made ‘The Adventures of Twizzle’ and ‘Torchy the Battery Boy’ is rated as a pioneer in puppet films on the television. Other successful puppet films of Anderson were ‘Supercat’ (1961), ‘Stingray’ (1964) and ‘Thunderbirds’ (1965).
There were many artists who advanced animation such as the brilliant American cartoonist Winsor McCay whose comic newspaper strip ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ became an animated picture in 1911. Winsor was the man behind the creation of the interactive ‘GERTIE, The Trained Dinosaur’.
Raoul Barre, whose film series ‘The Animated Grouch Chasers’ featured a caricature album that came to life, was credited with several significant developments such as registration holes in animation paper, to stop the drawings from wobbling when filmed etc.
J R Bray (creator of the comic character Colonel Heeza Liar) pioneered the technique of drawing the backgrounds on sheets of celluloid and placing them on top pf the animation drawings. This process was later refined by Earl Hurd (maker of ‘Bobby Bump’) by animating characters on celluloid sheets that were positioned over painted backgrounds.
Some of the talents/ artists who dominated the early years of animation were as follows:
Pat Sullivan (creator of ‘Felix the Cat’), his collaborator Otto Mesmer;
Dave Fleischer (who made the series ‘ Out of the Inkwell’)
Paul Terry, the creator of Aesop’s Fables’
Walter Lantz- who made first ‘Dinky Doodle’ and later ‘ Woody Woodpecker’
It is widely believed that Walt Disney, the genius who created Mickey Mouse, took animation to an entirely new level altogether. In 1928, with the premiere of ‘Steamboat Willie’, he became the first animator to add sound to his movie cartoons. Another milestone in Walt Disney’s life was the first full length animated feature film, named ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ produced in 1937. Walt Disney, till date, is the synonym for the cartoon film. ‘Flowers and Trees’ (1932) made by Disney Studios which won an academy award for this work was the first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method.
Lou Benin made a version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in 1948 using live and puppet players. Tim Burton is another pioneer in a negative sense, because he made the first ever horror animation film for children- ‘Vincent’. He also made the macabre film ‘Frankenweenie’ in 1984 and became a Hollywood legend creating the new dark breed of Batman movies. Burton’s ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) was the first stop motion feature film to receive worldwide distribution.
BBC and the Moscow based group of animators, Christmas Films have been known, in recent times, for producing finest puppet animation series. Jim Henson’s glove-puppets achieved international fame with ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘The Muppet Show’. Garry Anderson is considered yet another pioneer with his fantastic puppet animation shows on the television such as ‘ The Adventures of Twizzle’, ‘Torchy the Battery Boy’, ‘Super Cat’ ‘Fireball XL5’, ‘Stingray’ and last but not the least ‘ Thunderbirds’. Cosgrove Hall has the distinction of having achieved live movements animating his rubber moulded heads. His 3-D recreation of Toyland home of Enid Blyton’s ‘Noddy’ and ‘Okie Dokie’ is well known.
American Willis O’ Brien is credited with pioneering work in clay animation. He made pre historic comedies through claymation such as ‘Curious Pets of our Ancestors’ The Birth of Flivver'( both 1917) which featured dinosaur characters. He also created the special effects for Merian C Coopers classic fantasy ‘King Kong’-till date a powerful film for stunning animation sequences. O’Brien’s work has been the inspiration for many, notably his protégé Ray Harryhousen who even surpassed his master in animation techniques. ‘Might Joe Young’ (1949), ‘The Animal World'(1956), ‘The Beast 20,000 Fathoms'(1953), ‘It Came from Beneath the Sea’ (1955) boast of Ray’S memorable characters.
Max Fleischer and his collaborator Roland Crandall are known for moving away from claymation and using cel-animation. Perhaps, it was Art Clokey who revived claymation with an innovative film based on stop-motion clay animation through his film ‘Gumby’ (1955). The term Claymation was coined by Will Vinton who made Academy Award winning movies like ‘Closed Mondays’ followed by Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Martin the Cobbler’, Washington Irwing’s ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘Little Prince ‘. Joan Gatz, who worked with Vinton and made claymation films ‘A Claymation Christmas Celebration’ and the Academy Award winning film ‘Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase'( 1992). Will Vinton’s classic creations included ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain’ and ‘Return of Oz’. Vinton excelled himself through his advertising films in America which helped claymation to reach new heights of invention and sophistication.
The renaissance in clay animation is due to the works of an animator from the age of 13, Peter Lord who has the reputation of having made his first animated film as a school boy. He has thus been involved with animation for more than three decades. Peter is credited with pioneering clay character- MORPH, a simple clay character developed by him when working with BBC that became a well known claymation character on television. It was a simple model yet displaying a personality and charm, a hallmark of Peter’s characters. Peter Lord and Sproxton focused on plasticine / clay animation, a medium rarely used in Europe.
Peter along with Mr. David Sproxton, another pioneer in animation, founded Aardman Animations in 1976, named after a character in an early film of Peter. Peter and David were classmates in Working Grammer School for Boys. Over the years Peter and David, the cofounder of Aardman Studios, have produced many commercials, pop videos, children’s series and short films. Two of Peter’s own short films- Adam & Wat’s Pig- have been nominated for Academy Awards. The other ground breaking films from Arrdman were ‘Animated Conversations’,’ Conversation Pieces’, Confessions of a Foyer Girl’ and ‘On Probation’. The studio also specialised in giving human form to a variety of edible products such as singing sausage man, a fruit-and-vegetable man etc. Aardman have produced remarkable commercials using animation techniques -its characters like Douglas the Butterman for LURPAK are memorable.
Peter has been working on a full length feature film with fellow Aardman animator, Nick Pick, son of a professional photographer and the most famous of the filmmakers who joined Aardman Studios. Nick Park completed ‘A Grand Day Out’ for Aardman in 1989 featuring Wallace and Gromit which was nominated for Academy award-its sequel was ‘The Wrong Tousers’ followed by ‘A Close Shave’ which won Oscar and helped clay animation to scale unprecedented heights. Nick Park won his first Academy award for his fifth film in this series- ‘ Creature Comforts’ in 1990. Nick Park and Peter Lord produced the most ambitious project of Aardman Studios- ‘Chicken Run’ in 2000. Chicken Run was perhaps the earliest of films that made significant use of computer animation techniques.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Peter, Aardman Animations has become the preferred destination to many talents in animation. Peter Peake who produced ‘Pib and Pog’, Richard Goleszowski who made ‘Indent’ (Rex the Hunt series), ‘Dinosaur and Dreams’ and Steve Box are the notable animators from Aardman.
Peter Lord, along with Mr. Brian Sibley, has authored the much sought after book titled “Cracking Animation”- a book which is supposed to have opened up the vistas to the World of 3D Animation. Nick Park, in his forward to this book, has commended that Peter and David were the first animators he met with expert knowledge and technique in animation and this book is a pioneering publication to impart detailed information and insights into computer animation.
Brian Sibley, as a writer and broadcaster, pioneered in publishing numerous books and programmes in arts and animation. His books include ‘Shadowlands: The Story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman’ and ‘The Disney Story’.
One of the pioneers in using computers and computer related technology in animation was an MIT student Ivan Sutherland who in 1951 created a computer drawing program, Sketchpad, further giving a boost to animation. ‘Tron’ made in 1982 was a pioneering effort in computer animation. The rapid transition in the field of computer animation have seen innovative creators like Phil Tippet (‘Star Wars’, ‘Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Jurassic Park’), Peter Jackson (‘The Lord of the Rings’). Pixar Animation Studios has the distinction of having produced the first full length feature film animated totally on computers. While Pixar made marvels of computer animation like ‘Toy Story’ (1995), followed by ‘A Bug’s Life’ and the super hit ‘Finding Nemo’, the rival Studio Dreamworks created ‘Shrek’ series. Aardman also pioneered Pixillation, the modern technique of computer animation through their films ‘Angry Kid’.
Certainly, the days ahead are going to witness breathtaking visuals and special effects as more and more technological innovations are pioneered by the large studios across the world.  

The Personal Research Project Animation Essay

This research document was undertaken to discover and analyse character acting in animation, and the different methods used to express emotion and thought process. The document is focused around how an audience is influenced by techniques of character acting, and what elements contribute to its believability. Research of various literature, articles and online sources have been ventured to aid the analysis and conclusion.

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The evidence researched, suggests that thought process must occur before an action takes place by the character. Developing a character with empathy through their emotions helps the audience relate to them, contributing to a richer, more believable outcome. Various techniques are used to express thought process and emotion, however, discovery has led to the understanding that body language can be just as expressive without dialogue. Internal thought process is best expressed through a characters eye movements in conjunction with body language.
The aim of this research document is to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of how acting methods in character animation can be utilised and articulated to express emotions through the display of internal thought processes in a character. This research will explore the methods used by animators to create the ‘illusion of life’ and discover how it can become believable and engaging for the audience.
“Acting is defined as the art of practise of representing a character on a stage or before cameras and derives from the Latin word ‘agere’, meaning to do… an obsolete meaning for the word acting is animate.” (John Kundert-Gibbs, 2009, p4)
Research will be applied to specific methods of real/stage acting to develop an understanding of acting in character animation.
Background to the Research
“Animate – verb /annimayt/ 1. bring to life or activity. 2 give (a film or character) the appearance of movement using animation.
adjective /annimt/ alive; having life.
Derives, animator noun.
Origin, Latin animare, from anima ‘life, soul’.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
Animation has been thought to have originated over 35,000 years ago, after the discovery of ancient wall paintings in places like Altamira and Lascaux; which depicted various types of humans, objects and animals as Richard Williams (2001, p13) explains, sometimes with four pairs of legs to show motion. In the early 1800’s, Williams shows (2001, p14-15) that there were various different devices developed for the sole purpose of creating an illusion of movement such as the Thaumatrope, the Phenakistoscope, the Zoetrope, the Paxinoscope and the Flipper book. All these devices were based on the rediscovery, in 1824, of ‘The persistence of vision’ by Peter Mark Roget. The principle of this rests,
“…on the fact that our eyes temporarily retain the image of anything they’ve just seen.” (Williams, 2001, p13)
In 1896, this sparked the interest of Thomas Edison, who ended up publicly releasing a combination of drawings, drawn by James Stuart Blackton, in sequence called ‘Humorous Phases of Funny Faces’.
Since then, we have seen many different approaches to the genre of animation. With the rise of Disney animation studios, in 1928, ‘Steamboat Willie’ was introduced with synchronised sound and a new character, Mickey Mouse. By 1936, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was released which received amazing success. This was the starting point of the ‘Golden Age’ of animation which was shortly followed by the popular Disney titles: Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi and Fantasia.
It wasn’t until November, 1995 that Toy Story, the first full-length computer animated film was released by Pixar Animation Studios. This sparked another new era of animation. Studios like Dreamworks and Blue Sky soon followed.
Acting in animation has been adopted as the key element for creating believability in an animated sequence,
“But to make these designs work, the movements have to be believable – which leads back to realism… What we want to achieve isn’t realism, it’s believability.” (Williams, 2001, p.34)
All animated acting is designed to give a character personality and believability. Just like in stage acting. Doron Meir (2008) explains that believable acting is a result of the audience feeling a character’s actions of its own inner motives. Williams (2001) notes that animation principles that were developed by Disney Studios very early on, are still being used today in all types of animation to bring characters to life.
Research Question
How are emotions and internal thought processes expressed through techniques of acting in character animation to make characters believable and engaging to the audience?
Survey of Literature & Works
Acting is a very broad subject, and can be applied to many different genres of acting for stage and camera. Animation has had a direct influence by the techniques and discoveries on how to portray a character through movement. This is why ‘To the Actor: On the Technique of Acting’ by Michael Chekhov is an ideal choice that links directly to acting. Chekhov is famously known for his in-depth acting methods, and has stood as an iconic teacher for famous actors of today. Chekhov reflects on the methods used to call up emotions, develop characters and strengthen awareness as an actor. All these things help to develop specific ‘Psychological Gestures’ that he explains within the book, that show the audience what the character is trying to express through body language, which is also the key to a character’s believability in an animated sequence.
To get a more specific understanding of how characters move, and the principles surrounding character animation as an art, ‘The Animators Survival Guide’ by Richard Williams is an in-depth manual on the style and techniques of hand-drawn animation. Containing the specific principles used by animators to achieve believable movement.
“Williams has been one of the true innovators, and serves as a link between the golden age of animation by hand and new computer animation successes.” (Williams, 2001, blurb)
Everything in this book relates to the overall aim of producing a character that moves in a believable way. Acting relies on these techniques that are shown through drawing methods of frame by frame animation. By adopting these techniques, animators can be taught to study the anatomy of the human body to further understand how to produce successful animated characters.
The analysis of how characters display emotion needs to be taken into account throughout this research. ‘Acting for Animators’ by Ed Hooks explains the tried and tested methods in acting that reflect personality and feeling within a character. This book takes us through Hook’s lessons on acting and the theoretical approach behind his techniques. Empathy occurs a lot in this book, answering the need to create characters with feeling, for the audience to empathise with.
Analysis into character movement and acting by example will allow the discovery of techniques used in popular film. ‘Acting in Animation: A Look at 12 Films’ is a second book by Ed Hooks, where he analyses twelve different animated films, going through chapter by chapter, describing the expressive and emotive methods used in each scene. Led by these film examples, the techniques discovered through research, can be firmly reinforced.
Theoretical Approach for Selecting Data
Data will be collected, analysed and displayed from a variety of published secondary sources including: books, articles, web articles, web blogs and conferences. All data and necessary information will be collected for the purpose of research, but will not all be related to the analysis of animation. Acting technique and method will be the main subject source of research, which will provide a broader context to base opinions, ideas and thoughts discovered in secondary literature sources by other people in the industry. Literature sources containing examples of proven practise will be used to further enforce the topic of research.
Description of Proposed Practise
By an extended discovery and analysis on the subject of character acting in animation, I plan to produce at least six interesting and achievable artefacts that reflect the knowledge gained through this research document, that will provide further understanding about how emotion can allow an audience to empathise with an animated character. The preliminary design practise will include the development of key character poses to emphasise specific emotions directly influenced by an internal thought process. This will then indicate how a character can be developed further into a collection of believable animation sequences. Each artefact plans to contain one of the six basic emotions, as stated by Ed Hooks,
“…happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust and sadness…” (2000, p.36)
Characters used will be designed and rigged by a secondary source, which will provide a simple, easy to use marionette for the purpose of animation. Dialogue will not be used, as this may stand as a distraction from the emotions that are aimed to be expressed through body language and facial expressions. These artefacts will provide a clearer understanding of subconscious body movements that are often overlooked.
Character animation can take many forms within the context of animation in both the traditional sense as well as in modern computer animation.
“The following principles were developed and named:
1. Squash and Stretch… 2. Timing and Motion… 3. Anticipation… 4. Staging… 5. Follow Through and Overlapping… 6. Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose… 7. Slow In and Out… 8. Arcs… 9. Exaggeration… 10. Secondary Action… 11. Appeal…Personality in character animation is the goal of all of the above.” (John Lasseter, 1987, pp. 35-44, 21:4)
Lasseter explains that these specific traditional animation principles and techniques developed in the 1930’s by Walt Disney Studios should be incorporated into all animated media “…especially character animation…” to develop characters look to make them “…more realistic and entertaining” (Lasseter, 1987, pp. 35-44)
Richard Williams explains,
“The old knowledge applies to any style of approach to the medium no matter what the advances in technology.” (2001, p. 20)
This shows that successful, believable animation of all types have spawned on the basis and influence of these traditional principles and techniques. Richard Williams also tells us that, in relation to ‘classical’ and computer animation,
“Both share the same problems of how to give a performance with movement, weight, timing and empathy.” (2001, p. 20)
This underlines a key point into the advances of technology in animation, showing that 3D animation software packages only act as a technique of animating and not an easier way to influence believable movement.
Lasseter explains,
“To make a character’s personality seem real to an audience, he must be different than the other characters on the screen. A simple way to distinguish the personalities of your characters is through contrast of movement. No two characters would do the same action in the same way.” (1994)
Creating a unique character, develops its personality. John Kricfalusi (2006) reminisced of how he got drawn in by Chuck Jones’ cartoons, noticing the unique expressions he drew. Specifically as an example, the way he draws two whites of the eyes joined together, one bigger than the other to form a “D-uh” expression.
We can see that individuality is very important when introducing personality to a character, Chekhov (1953, p.83) explains on the subject of characterisation, that particular features indigenous to a character; like a typical movement, manner of speech, recurrent habit, odd way of walking and so on, expresses the ‘finishing touches’ to a character. Characters become more alive and more human with this small feature. Hooks (2000, p.36) explains, “When we speak of creating the illusion of life in animation, it boils down not to mannerisms and naturalistic movement, but to emotion”. Hooks continues to state that theoretically speaking, emotion is the essential element of acting as the point of empathy for the audience. Hooks,
“Empathy is as essential to dynamic acting as oxygen is to water.” (2000, p.9)
Characters of all descriptions, in an attempt to make them believable to an audience, need to have a particular personality. The audience needs to be directly affected by a character’s on-screen emotion, to really feel a sense of empathy. Without, the audience will lose interest easily and the objectives within the storyline can diminish.
Hooks (2000, p.41), reflects on Charlie Chaplin as one of the most influential comedians that used a great deal of empathy in his work to touch the audiences’ emotions. He explains that his innovation as a performer has had a huge influence on the world of comics and animation. As Chuck Jones has said
“I admire Chaplin very much because you could see him think, and plan, and you cared for him.” (Hooks, 2000, p.40)
Chaplin’s unique relationship with the audience has seen a great influence on character animation from the beginning of Walt Disney’s profession. Dick Huemer (Hooks, 2000, p.40), Disney storyman, tells us Walt had an image of Mickey Mouse as a little Chaplin.
In order to successfully accomplish empathy within a character, there needs to be elements of individuality to provoke emotions. These can be developed through simple recurring mannerisms that correlate with the character’s thoughts and actions. In every respect, the audience needs to be the main influence when deciding a character’s actions.
Hooks states humans express six basic emotions,
“…happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust and sadness…” (2000, p.36)
He also tells us that there is disagreement on whether facial expression is primarily a reflection of the inner emotional state, or if it is simply a social ‘display’. Hooks concludes that it could be either, depending on the situation. Emotion can be expressed through both facial expression and body language, although the influence of each method can be different. Williams (2001, p. 324) believes that words should be kept to a bare minimum and as an animator, make everything as clear as possible through pantomime using only the body to tell the story. The movements of the body are thought about a lot more by animators than real actors, as animators have to ‘create’ it rather than ‘do’ it, although the physical expressive nature of emotions are identical. Different types of feelings can be expressed easily as Chekhov shows,
“…grasping or catching (greed, avarice, cupidity, miserliness)… roughly with palms turned earthward… lusts to overpower, to possess.” (1953, p.67)
Equally, Chekhov (1953, p.73) explains here that in order to build up your characters expressive nature, hands and arms should act first for example; hands up near the chin expresses unavoidability and loneliness, palms turned outward displays self-defence and slight humour is evoked when bending the three middle fingers of each hand. Hooks agrees,
“The truth is that our hands and arms are the most expressive parts of our bodies”. (2000, p.60)
An example to this, Hooks demonstrates,
“Arms folded across the chest indicate that the person is ‘closed’, intractable… When you are embarrassed, you tend to shrink in space.” (2000, p.62)
This reveals that many body language patterns in human figures are emphasised through the movement of hands and arms. Williams (2001, p. 324) explains a method called ‘Twinning’ where arms and hands are doing the same thing, symmetrically. He teaches that this is used to show authority by preachers, leaders, politicians and so forth. Kevan Shorey agrees that,
“Symmetry is a good way of adding force to an action to get a point across!” (2008)
Both animators, believe that twinning should be broken up to avoid an exact mirror image of movements that would produce unbelievable messages to the audience. Jeff Lew (2004) explains that to make twinning animation look more interesting, the perspective of shot needs to be changed so they don’t physically look identical at a particular camera angle.
Walt Disney in 1930s found that expression is better when the whole body is involved and not only the face,
“Movement begins in the area of your navel and radiates outwards into your limbs.” (Hooks, 2000, p.60)
John Kricfalusi (2006) explains that animators have evolved a style that has become more stagy than live action by reading characters’ emotions through body language and poses. Evidentially, facial expressions aren’t enough to provoke a meaningful emotion, and that the whole body needs to be articulating through hand gestures and arm movements to compliment facial expressions, to achieve a believable emotion through a character.
In an example from Toy Story 2, Hooks notes,
“She (Jessie) doesn’t simply greet Woody enthusiastically, she turns him over and gives him nuggies! She tosses him this way and that. Her emotion is leading her to energetically celebrate.” (2005, p.90)
This is a specific example of how body language is reflecting emotion successfully. If this same bit of acting was acted on the stage, or in front of a camera with real actors – it would have a very different outcome. The emotion may be similar, but another way of emphasising actions used in animation is through exaggeration. Shawn Kelly (2009) informs us that he was taught to exaggerate something more than it should be, then double it. Exaggeration is one of the original animation principles. Lasseter (1987, pp. 35-44, 21:4) suggests exaggeration of characters by the animator must be very carefully chosen. If there is too much distortion it could result in an unrealistic look.
Looking back much earlier, to 1927, the classic film “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” was released. Without synchronised dialogue, films of this era had to rely on the character’s acting and the backing compositions as the two main elements for the story.
“Sunrise is considered one of the finest films of the silent era, and Janet’s Gaynor’s performance is one its greatest virtues… Her supple face and soulful eyes convey a range of thoughts and emotions that pages of dialogue could only suggest.” (DeFreitas, 2009)
Later, DeFreitas (2009) tells us that Sunrise became a winner of the 1929 ‘Best Picture’ Oscar for ‘Unique and Artistic’ Production. This film sets as an evidential example of how acting without dialogue can influence and empathise with an audience just as good, if not more so.
Often in animation, Lasseter (1987, pp. 35-44) explains that the eye can easily pick up when the motion of a character seems to die, which can come across as looking particularly fake and unbelievable. To overcome this loss of motion, Lasseter uses a ‘moving hold’ – which is a technique used that continues the motion of a body part after an action. This breaks up the animation and results in a smoother and more believable sequence. Preston Blair (Hooks, 2001, p.60), states that an actor should never pause without a specific reason, and when a pause occurs, it should be shown for long enough so the audience can register it. These are both techniques that engage the audience into what the character is acting out.
Before a movement of any sort can occur, thought processes need to become apparent through the character. Hooks outlines,
“Thinking tends to lead to conclusions; emotion tends to lead to action.” (2000, p.1)
Hooks defines a thought process as a method in discovering a conclusion. Lasseter (1994) mentions that every movement of a particular character must exist for a reason, and, ultimately, develop feelings in a character through their thought processes. As an observation, before a human being puts his body into action, a thought process must occur. In animation, this thought process must be shown to the audience to illustrate believability of an action that has just been revealed. To show a thought process in a character, Disney animator/teacher Eric Larson shows a technique, in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s ‘Illusion of Life’,
“The subject gradually lowered his brows into a frown – paused – and then lifted one brow and glanced to the side, you immediately would sense a change from one thought to another…” (Richard Williams, 2001, p.320)
This action was discovered when the first Mickey Mouse shorts were being created, and stands as a key element into how change of expression can reflect a meaningful thought process. Shawn Kelly (2009) expresses his ideas, explaining that there isn’t anything more important than showing a character’s thought process and changes which occur within it to provoke emotions and actions. It is down to these thought processes, he concludes, that drives everything we do. Looking at character animation in Toy Story 2, Hooks (2005, p.87) explains how Woody’s realisation that Andy has gone to camp without him, leads him to his express sadness (emotion) which then leads him to withdraw to the back shelf, out of sight. He adds that,
“The more specific the character’s thought process, the better the performance”. (2005, p.87)
Thought process in character animation, as mentioned, is very important for believability. This has been true for many years since the beginning of Disney’s ‘Golden Age’ in animation. Walt Disney said,
“In most instances, the driving force behind the action is the mood, the personality, the attitude of the character-or all three. Therefore, the mind is the pilot. We think of things before the body does them.” (Lasseter, 1987, pp. 35-44, 21:4)
It is widely agreed that thought process is the main building block that needs to be perfected and shown successfully in any animated character. Bill Tytla (Hooks, 2005, p.3), concluded that “the pose is a reaction to something”. Hooks refers to Aristotle,
“Aristotle referred to this as a unity of action – small actions that lead to a bigger action, or objective. This simple rule lies at the base of all acting theory. An action without a thought is impossible, and action without an objective is just a mechanical thing, moving body parts.” (Hooks, 2005, p.4-5)
Aristotle finds that the thought process of a character separates a character with ‘life’ to a robotic, lifeless machine.
As mentioned earlier, Eric Larson’s technique of showing a thought process in a character is very believable. But more specifically, it has been discovered that the eyes are the most important parts of the character to express and emphasis these thoughts. Williams (2001, p.325) advises on how the eyes are the focal point that people watch in a character. As an example, he notes,
“When listening on the phone the eyes flicker around in a Staccato fashion reflecting the listener’s shifting thoughts in reaction our eyes are rarely still.” (2001, p.326)
The eyes, the driving force behind a character’s actions. Kelly agrees that decisions can be reflected successfully with the eyes,
“They will very often dart their eyes around a bit as they consider and weigh their options. It’s almost as if they are reading an imaginary list of possible choices!” (2009)
Lasseter (1987), explains that eyes lead before the action, and that the only time they wouldn’t lead, would be if there was an external force acting upon the character. He mentions further, that the trick to showing thought process through the eyes of a character is with anticipation. The eyes should move first, followed by the head and then the rest of the body.
“The eyes of a character are the windows to its thoughts; the character’s thoughts are conveyed through the actions of its eyes.” (Lasseter, 1987)
As well as eye movements, the timing and speed of a character’s blinks can also affect the outcome of what is portrayed as a thought process. Kelly (2009), explains that different blinks can offer up our own different perceptions of what the character is thinking.
“A ton of blinks will feel as though the character is going to cry, is nervous, uncomfortable, shy, or possibly relieved after a big build up; while very little to no blinking will either feel dead, stoned worried, angry, or just very intense.” (Kelly, 2009)
Kelly teaches that blinks should be there for a reason to further enhance a particular emotion. Before an animator can even start to animate a particular thought process, they need to know about the character to be able to understand what they would be feeling at a certain moment, in an attempt to achieve a believable outcome.
The most important foundation of believable character acting starts with finding out about a specific character. Williams states,
“Got to get inside the character. What does he/she/it want? and even more interesting – why does the character want it?” (2001, p.20)
To develop our understanding of what a character is thinking, and in order to provoke emotion in a character, these questions need to be posed. Ed Hooks also explains to us that,
“Every character in a scene should be able to answer the question. ‘What am I doing?’ – in a theatrical sense. In other words, what action am I playing in pursuit of what objective? And what is the obstacle/conflict?” (2005, p.89)
Just like this, in the context of acting for an audience, Michael Chekhov suggests to,
“Ask yourself what the main desires of the character might be” (1953, p.67)
This approach sets the scene for any character in order to discover what the characters personality is trying to portray in what they are thinking or doing. Hooks notes,
“If you want to understand what a character is feeling, it is best to start by asking what the character is thinking and what his value system is.” (2000, p.2)
To understand how a character must move, the animator needs to discover the atmosphere and influence of the obstacle that the character is being confronted with. Only then can a thought process occur, and a feeling be evoked by a specific situation or conflict. Jeff Lew (2004) , expresses his thoughts on the development of a character’s bio before learning how a character will react in any animated scene. This develops further understanding of a character’s background that could be significant in influencing the way their emotions are expressed.
This evidence shows us that there are a lot of elements contributing to developing a character’s emotional state and to make it believable to the audience. To develop his understanding of a character and what they are thinking, Ed Hooks uses a definition coined by Michael Chekhov called a “Psychological Gesture”, which, Chekhov explains as the psychology of a character containing thoughts, feelings and a human free will which is expressed physically through external feelings, thoughts and desires. Hooks gives the example,
“Have you ever noticed someone who wrings his hands a lot while he’s talking?… A Bully punches someone in the chest with his finger. That is a psychological gesture.” (2000, p.66)
A psychological gesture is an internal thought process, manifesting itself into an external action to express an emotion. Chekhov gives an acting example,
“The qualities which fill and permeate each muscle of the entire body, will provoke within you feelings of hatred and disgust.” (1953, p.64)
The above, is very similar to the way animators approach the discovery of a character’s psychological gesture by calling up ideas of how thoughts can influence the emotions that are displayed.
Character animation, in both the traditional and computer medium, rely heavily on the original animation principles that were discovered by Disney Studios. This emphasises how improvements in 3D animated software are used as only as a tool for the creation of animation, and does not rely on the computer to make things look believable by itself.
Analysis has shown that acting techniques in animation are almost identical to stage and film acting. It is the exaggeration of body language and the ability to adapt a character in specific detail that sets it apart.
It is evident that the emotional state of a character is a direct influence of it’s thought process. Thought process can be best expressed through body language to enhance an emotion. This research has lead to discover that eye movements are one of the focal points that enhance a characters thought. Emotions need to be manifested into an external, physical body movement, however slight, in order to engage an audience.
The conclusion to the discussion has shown that creating empathy as a result of expressing an emotion, is the key element for engaging any audience. A character’s believability is successful when an audience can relate to it in some way or another. This can be done by giving a character a personality through mannerisms and specific body language.
Bibliography and List of Works

CHEKHOV, M., CALLOW, S To The Actor: on the technique of acting, Oxon: Routledge, 2002
DEFREITAS, J MOVING PICTURES: Motion and Emotion in F.W. Murnau’s ‘Sunrise’, 2009, http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2009-0212/article/32219?headline=MOVING-PICTURES-Motion-and-Emotion-in-F.W.-Murnaus-Sunrise-
HOOKS, E., BIRD, B Acting for Animators, Portsmouth: Heinemann 2000
HOOKS, E Acting in Animation: A Look at 12 Films, Portsmouth: Heinemann 2005
KUNDERT- GIBBS, J, Action! Lessons for CG Animators, Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, 2009
KRICFALUSI, J Personal Blog, 2006, http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com
KELLY, S Animation Mentor Blog, 2009, http://www.animationtipsandtricks.com
LASSETER, J Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to 3D Computer Animation, Siggraph, 1987, http://www.siggraph.org/education/materials/HyperGraph/animation/character_animation/principles/prin_trad_anim.htm

Japanese animation and how its been influenced by American culture in the 20th century

In this essay I shall investigate to what extent twentieth century American culture has influenced Japanese animation. I shall examine the history of Japanese film, paying close attention to the rise of animation as an independent art form; determine what facets of American culture have appeared and influenced Japanese animation, including language, pop culture and consumerism; present two case studies of Japanese animated productions that adhere to the American influence; and draw conclusions from my findings.
For my research I shall be referencing literature on Japanese animation, American culture and film history. The case studies shall consist of films by Osamu Tezuka and Mamoru Oshii.
History of Japanese Animation
The Japanese film industry was born out of the fascination with Edison’s Kinetoscope. The Kinetoscope had been first shown in New York in 1894, and two years later the Japanese imported several to their cities. This was a period of celebration and novelty as the Sino-Japanese war had been won in 1895 with Japan forcing the Chinese invasion out of Korea; proving that Japan could adjust to the modern civilization [sic] which less than fifty years earlier had arrived knocking at the closed gates of the country in the person of Commodore Perry. It was the reign of Emperor Meiji, spanning 44 years from 1868 to 1912, which welcomed an era of rapid commercial expansion. In 1897, the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe arrived with a mixed bill of films including ‘Baignade en Mer’ and ‘L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare’. This was followed by the Edison Vitascope and its films ‘The Death of Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘Feeding Pigeons’. These innovative projectors were extremely popular with the Japanese, including the future Emperor Taisho. The public were arriving in their thousands to watch these films and continued to do so for another twenty years. Throughout this period the Japanese were importing films from Europe and the United States.

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It was only in 1912 that Japan founded its first production company; Nikkatsu Motion Picture Company. Established as an independent company under the title Japan Cinematograph Company, Nikkatsu started mass distribution and production of films in the 1920s. This meant that Japan was still dependant on films produced in the West to exhibit in its cinemas in the 1910s. During the First World War (1914-1918) European films were unavailable and to fill the void Japan began to heavily import films from Hollywood. One particular film that was to change the way the Japanese read film narrative was D.W. Griffith’s 1916 feature, ‘Intolerance’. Perhaps the director nost influenced by Griffith in this early period of Japanese film was Norimasa Kaeriyama. Kaeriyama introduced advanced film technique into Japan and helped establish the ‘Film Record’, the country’s first motion picture magazine. His films were heavily inspired by the Hollywood narrative structure and were dedicated to: the introduction of long-, medium-, and close-shots, together with editing principles; the conversion to realistic acting; and the use of actresses in women’s roles instead of oyama (oyama impersonators were previously used instead of actresses for female roles).
After the death of Emperor Taisho in 1926 Japan’s new Emperor, Showa (Hirohito), began to reject the liberal attitudes towards Western influence of his predecessor. There was more emphasis on creating greater armies and a more powerful navy than building diplomatic relations. Before the Great Depression rocked the United States and Europe, Japan had already suffered; this was accelerated by the population boom across the country. Japan now put emphasis into its manufacturing and exportation of goods. Japan’s foreign policy had become one of aggressive expansion; they had seized control of the railways in Shandong, China, but were forced to withdraw after China boycotted Japanese exports. There was unrest in the country as labour unions were growing and dissatisfaction bred. Strikes and boycotts were rife, and this was reflected in the films of the time. Period drama films afforded the public the luxury of escapism while, on the other end of the scale, left-wing ‘tendency films’ that “sought to encourage, or fight against, a given social tendency” played to the nation. This period of filmmaking in Japan proved that the industry had grown up from its humble origins and was establishing its own themes.
The influx of the ‘talkies’ from Hollywood finally pushed Japanese filmmakers to produce their own sound filmes. In the early 1930s sound became the norm for Japanese productions and therefore pushed the boundaries of the industry; allowing directors such as Teinosuke Kinugasa to create lavish dramas that were adored by the public. Suddenly the door was open for filmmakers to adapt historic tales dramatically. These dramas were singled out by the Emperor who saw them as an important tool to boost the nation’s morale, showing the masses how important history was; and how important it was to actually make their own history. The second Sino-Japanese war was not unexpected. The film industry had to develop the skills to produce the war genre. The first Japanese war movie was Tomotaka Tasaka’s 1938 feature, ‘Five Scouts’ (Gonin no Sekkohei). It is interesting to note that this film does not include the pride, nationalism or propaganda that was being released in the United States, Britain or Germany. The story dealt with the lives of five soldiers caught up in a battle that they know they must fight. This narrative development of character over plot is still used in modern cinema, most recently in Sam Mendes’ ‘Jarhead’ (2005).
After the destruction of the Second World War, Japan was forced to rebuild as a nation. The Emperor saw the need to keep the cinemas open (at least those that still remained). Production continued, some unfinished films were abandoned due to their military narrative, and projects that had been discarded before the outbreak of war were completed. The occupying Allied interim ‘government’ announced a list of prohibited subjects, these included militarism, revenge, nationalism, religious or racial discrimination, feudal loyalty, suicide, cruelty, exploitation of children and opposition to the occupation. Editorial power had been taken away from the filmmakers and left with a foreign military presence. Out of this period two important directors were to emerge; Kurosawa and Kinoshita.In 1950, Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ was released. The film introduced new ideas to Japanese, and world, cinema. It was the first film to use flashbacks that disagreed with the action they were flashing back to. It supplied first-person eyewitness accounts that differed radically; one of which came from beyond the grave. The final scene saw no Hollywood resolution with three self-confessed killers and no explanation. His later films included ‘Seven Samurai’ (Shichinin no samurai) (1954), ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (Kakushi-toride no san-akunin) (1958) and ‘Yojimbo’ (1961). Keisuke Kinoshita directed Japan’s first colour film in 1951 with ‘Carmen Comes Home’ (Karumen kokyo ni kaeru). Kinoshita’s work is much lighter than that of Kurosawa and his influences seem to come from French comedies; most notably in the two Carmen movies featuring the ‘stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold’ Carmen. Both these and other films explore the need for a character to leave the countryside and head to the new cities. This was echoed in Japan’s successful attempts to join the United Nations in 1956.
In 1958 the first cartoon feature from Japan was released from the Toei studios. ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ (Hakuja den) was directed by Kazuhiko Okabe and Taiji Yabushita and tells of two lovers in ancient China who must battle evil to find happiness. The film combines bizarre supernatural sequences, psychedelic montages and instantly likeable songs. Even though it can be argued that this is the Japanese interpretation of Disney’s 1940 classic ‘Fantasia’, ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ heralds the beginning of the Japanese animation industry (anime).
Anime is the term used to describe Japanese animation. Since the 1950s Japan has been at the forefront of not only producing animation but is a world-leader in comic book art, or ‘Manga’. It is best described by Gilles Poitras: “Anime (pronounced ah-nee-may), as defined by common non-Japanese fan usage, is any animation made in Japan. In Japan, the word simply means ‘animation’. While anime is sometimes erroneously referred to as a ‘genre’, it is in reality an art form that includes all the genres found in cinema or literature, from heroic epics and romances to science fiction and comedy.” Whereas anime is what people would refer to as cartoons, Manga is the illustrated storyboards that the reader animates in his or her head. The fact that Manga is read by a whole cross-section of society is notable because it is; simply too fascinating, colorful [sic], and rich a literary medium to be left solely to children”.
The 1960s saw a host of anime films released. In ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka in 1960, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic, ‘The Journey to the West’, written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. This technique of updating early stories was a popular theme in anime and is still used today. However, it was not only the cinema that was releasing anime productions. Japanese television aired ‘Mighty Atom’ (Tetsuwan Atomu) from 1963 to 1966. ‘Mighty Atom’ was the creation of Dr Osamu Tezuka, an influential figure in the early development of Manga. It was the first animated series produced by Tezuka’s television and film production company, Mushi Studios. The initial episode was shown as a television special on New Year’s Eve (one of the most widely viewed evenings on Japanese television) and became an instant success. When the series was shown in the United States the character’s name was changed to ‘Astroboy’ due to DC Comics already owning a character called ‘The Mighty Atom’. The series proved to be extremely popular with children, and sparked controversy amongst parents who, even though the translation was greatly softened and sometimes edited for juvenile audiences, complained that the often dark subject matter was not suitable for impressionable young minds. Some episodes exhibited increasingly dreamlike and surreal imagery. This argument still persists today with the debate on whether graphic violence in cartoons (or anime) can prove detrimental to a young audience.
The 1970s was a time of consolidation for the animation studios. The worldwide popularity of anime had afforded hundreds of studios to be set up to produce a plethora of films and television series. The moon landing in 1969 fired the imagination of the world with more emphasis on science fiction; and that is what the audience wanted. Fans of anime, or ‘otaku’, from around the world demanded new productions from these studios, and in turn the studios delivered new and advanced films. Otaku derives from the Chinese character for ‘house’ and the honorific prefix ‘o-‘. This translates as ‘your honourable house’. It is an extremely polite way of saying ‘you’ when addressing another person in conversation; the writer Akio Nakamori proposed that the term be applied to the fans themselves. Another interpretation, as used by the Japanese media, is that of ‘extreme fixation’, which is probably closer to the truth. Either way it is the fans of anime that have been the driving force behind its success.
In 1971 an animator directed 24 episodes of an anime series called ‘Lupin III’ (Rupan sansei). It was the start of a very important career for perhaps the most important animator to come out of Japan. This man was Hayao Miyazaki. The series ran from 1971 to 1972 and was so successful that a number of sequels were made as well as theatrical releases. ‘Lupin III’ describes the life of gang members in 1970s society. The action targeted the adult audience with its violence, sex, dark humour and contemporary soundtrack. Eight years later Miyazaki went on to direct ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’ (Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro). The film is a continuation of the Lupin franchise that started with the television series in 1971. The emphasis is on the characters rather than the plot; a trait that Miyazaki develops over the course of his career. Even though the film is far from being one of the best examples of anime from the 1970s, the pace, comedy and willingness to show anti-heroes captures the feeling of the decade. Another example of an anime series that became global was ‘Gatchaman Science Ninjas’ (Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman). This series originally ran from 1972 to 1974 in Japan before being renamed ‘Battle of the Planets’ when it aired in the United States in 1978. Yet again the re-dubbed, re-edited version was toned down for the Western audience, so much so that the series was moved from Earth to outer space; sequences with a robot (7-Zark-7) were added to patch the ‘safer’ storylines together, make up for the lost (edited) footage and jump on the ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 bandwagon; exploding planes and ships were always ‘robot-controlled’ and Spectra forces constantly ejected. The original ‘Gatchaman’ series introduced characters that had feelings and motivation; there was character development and ongoing sub-plots. They sought revenge, felt jealousy and fear, had relationships, and got hurt. The villains were unabashedly evil, not misguided. The heroes didn’t always win, at least not completely.It was as if the West was still not ready to embrace anime and Manga as an art form that was acceptable for adults to enjoy. Anime was still widely seen as cartoons for children in the 1970s.
The Japanese animation industry went from strength to strength in the 1980s. It was the decade that saw the Western world finally succumb to the power of anime. This was a two-pronged attack; a Manga pincer movement. For those that still believed animation was for children there was the extraordinary global phenomenon that was ‘Transformers’, and for those that were looking for an alternative cult classic there was ‘Akira’. In 1984, American toy manufacturer Hasbro bought the rights to produce transforming robots from Japanese company Takara. To bolster the sales of their new line Hasbro decided to use anime as the frontline attack on the target audience (children). The result was the extremely successful ‘Transformer’ series. This series led to the production of the 1986 feature film, ‘Transformers: The Movie’. This was the first real evidence of American culture, in its consumer form, influencing Japanese animation. In stark contrast of the ‘animation-as-advert’, Katsuhiro Ôtomo directed the 1988 classic ‘Akira’. The film was soon to become a benchmark for anime in Japan, and across the world. This was a film that was aimed at adults with dark, subversive themes. The futuristic settings of ‘Neo-Tokyo’ were apocalyptic and tinged with doom. After ‘Akira’ it was widely accepted that anime was not just for children.
The 1990s saw anime reach mass appeal as the release of such films as ‘Patlabor’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ) (1990), ‘Patlabor II’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ 2) (1993) and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995) by Mamoru Oshii found an international audience; Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki’s 1997 feature ‘End of Evangelion’ (Shin seiki Evangelion Gekijô-ban: Air) followed on where the original Japanese television series left off; and of course Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Crimson Pig’ (Kurenai no buta) (1992) and ‘Princess Mononoke’ (Mononoke-hime) (1997). The American influence was still rife as the toy industry, in particular the computer and video game market, provided the plotlines to a number of films and television series including ‘Street Fighter II: The Movie’ (1994), ‘Battle Arena Toshinden’ (1997) and the original series of the ‘next big thing’, ‘Pokémon’ (1998 onwards). In 1999, Michael Haigney and Kunihiko Yuyama directed the feature length version of the popular ‘Pokémon’ series; ‘Pokémon: The First Movie’. Whereas the 1980s saw Transformers flood the children’s market, the beginning of the new millennium saw the Japanese revenge. Pokémon originally began as a video game, on the Nintendo Gameboy: The Pokémon game was the platform for the Pokémon brand to kick-start what would become the world’s largest success story in the game-licensing card-collecting business. The video game gave the characters identities, the collection cards gave them powers, the movie added life to the brand, and word-of-mouth spread the news. The Pokémon invasion is still evident nearly ten years later as the television series is still in production, with two feature film sequels having followed the original cinematic release. The consumerism powers of America had truly influenced anime.
American Cultural Invasion
The cultural invasion from the West began in earnest at the turn of the twentieth century. Japan’s industrial revolution had been slow to start but quickly gathered momentum. By 1890 there were two hundred large steam factories where twenty years earlier there had been none; steamship tonnage increased from 15,000 to over 1,500,000 tons in the period between 1893 and 1905; and by 1896 things Western were in full fashion… derbies or straw boaters were worn with formal kimono, the big gold pocket-watch was tucked into the obi, and spectacles, whether needed or not, were esteemed as a sign of learning.” Ironically, the period when Japan found itself bowing down to the pressure of American influence was directly after fighting a war against it. When the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was not just the radiation that remained in Japan. Any country that has been invaded will always have traces of the invader’s culture embedded into the normal life of its habitants. The Allied (most notably the American) control of Japan directly after the war was to allow Western influences to develop into the Japanese way of life. This influence was both highly visual as well as subliminal. America saw the clandestine operations there were not only as part of an effort to defeat Japan but also as the ‘opening wedge for post-war Southeast Asia. The Japanese were suspicious of the Western approach to education and the governing of their homeland. The Occupation, they thought, had destroyed traditional Japanese virtues and unleashed a wave of selfishness and egotism. In an interview with the elderly president of a real estate company in Oita City, author Jeffrey Broadbent discovered the feelings of the former owbers of the land: Due to American influence, the heart of our people has been lost – our way of thinking that, if it’s good for the progress of the whole, it’s good to sacrifice yourself… The Japanese strength from group unity has been lost. The other side of the coin is the very noticeable, consumer-led American cultural assault on Japan.The way in which American culture has seeped into the Japanese way of life is what Koichi Iwabuchi writes as: strategies that incorporate the viewpoint of the dominated, who long ago learned to negotiate Western culture in their consumption of media products imported fro the West. Depending on the viewpoint of the individual, culture and life in Japan, and especially that in the densely populated areas, are influenced by the same commercial culture that defines the American way of life today. Japanese streets are now littered with the flashing neon signs that are found (admittedly all over the world) adorning the pavements of any American town or city. Western branding has left its mark on Japan. The American phenomenon of the fast-food culture such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Baskin-Robbins, and other outlets dominate the Japanese urbanscape more than in America. As a matter of fact the first Disneyland outside the United States was built in Japan. Even when taking into consideration the immense popularity of Japanese culture (for example, the growth of Yo! Sushi restaurants in the UK) and the West’s embracing of Eastern philosophies (in this case Shinto and Buddhism), it is safe to say that Japanese culture has been more extensively shaped by its American counterpart than vice versa. If it is indeed true that Japan’s exports of products and manufactured goods far outweighs its imports, then it is also true that Japan imports vastly more information about or from the United States than the other way round.
Japan is today regarded as one of the leading powers in the world especially in the representation of its national media; the Japanese population of more than 120 million people and its economic wealth make the Japanese audiovisual market, along with that of the United States, one of the only two self-sufficient markets in the world. However, this does not mean that foreign popular culture is no longer consumed in Japan; American popular culture has continued to strongly influence and saturate Japan. Japan is one of the biggest buyers of Hollywood movie and many Japanese television formats and concepts are also deeply influenced by and borrowed from American programmes; yet the format is quite often changed to make it more suitable to a Japanese audience: “What was marked as foreign and exotic yesterday can become familiar today and traditionally Japanese tomorrow”. Kosaku Yoshino writes that although Japan has developed a ‘relative maturity’ of its cultural industries, it still hasn’t found itself fully expanding on the exportation of its television programming and films to other regions of the world. This ‘unexportability’ of Japanese media can be explained by the term ‘cultural discount’: “A particular programme rooted in one culture and thus attractive in that environment will have a diminished appeal elsewhere as viewers find it difficult to identify with the style, values, beliefs, institutions and behavioural patterns of the material in question. Included in the cultural discount are reductions in appreciation due to dubbing or subtitling. The biggest media products that the Japanese have managed to export, despite cultural discount, is Manga and anime; but is this due to American cultural influences shaping the genre into a more Western-friendly medium?

Case Study 1 – ‘Alakazam the Great’ (Saiyu-ki)
The first example of a Japanese animation that has been influenced by American culture is the 1960 feature, ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka for Toei Studios. It was released in America as ‘Alakazam the Great’ in an attempt to win a bigger audience by moving away from the emphasis of the ancient Eastern tale, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic ‘The Journey to the West’ (Xiyouji), written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. The title name-change and the subsequent character name-changes point to the influence that America held over Japanese culture at the time. The original story chronicles the many encounters of Sanzo, a monk who travels from China to India to obtain a copy of the original Buddhist scriptures to bring back to his country and teach the purity of Siddharta’s original messages. In Osamu Tezuka’s film the star of the show is not Sanzo but Son Goku, the monkey king. Son Guko is a talented but arrogant warrior that is sent on a journey by Buddha to learn the virtues of humility and compassion. However, when re-dubbed and released in the United States the characters changed.
Sanzo became ‘Prince Amat’ and turns out to be the son of Buddha. Buddha in turn is named ‘King Amo’, Sir Quigley (Pigze), Lulipopo (Sandy), and Son Goku is renamed the titular ‘Alakazam’.
Considering the fact that the storyline was centuries old there is more than a passing resemblance between the character of Alakazam (Son Guko) and the way in which Japan was seen by the rest of the world. In the tale the protagonist is king of his surroundings (Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s) before he discovers the existence of a people that are more powerful than him. In an attempt to beat them he sneaks into their world and begins a pre-emptive strike against them (Pearl Harbour attack). He is then disciplined by a greater being (America) before being allowed to continue his journey under the agreement that he learns from his mistakes (the Occupation and the subsequent acceptance into the United Nations). I believe the fact that Tezuka decided to use the story to create this, the third Japanese feature length animation, demonstrates an understanding of the ever present American dominance over Japan.
The aesthetics of the production borrow from the American animations of the time. In the post-war period it was evident that the biggest influence on the explosion of Manga style artwork came from the imports of European and American comic books and animation. The most famous being the work from the studios of Walt Disney. Osamu Tezuka was originally a Manga artist before he became involved with anime. His style and technique was heavily influenced by Disney (he admitted to watching ‘Bambi’ 80 times and ‘Snow White’ 50 times).” The studio that he worked for, Toei, strived for that same cross-cultural, cross-generational appeal of Disney, albeit using more Asian scenarios. Considering that he had studied Disney’s ‘Bambi’ to the point of obsession it is not surprising to learn that “Tezuka noted how Bambi’s childish attributes, such as his big eyes and large head, were an ideal way of conveying complex emotions.” The influence of the West is truly evident in this film, and many that followed it.

Case Study 2 ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995)
The second film I am looking at in detail is ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is widely accepted that anime has been inspired by a number of different factors that draws simultaneously on medieval Japanese traditions, on American cyberpunk styles, and on an imagery of ethnic and cultural mixture (of the sort envisioned in Blade Runner) that never quite evokes any specific human society, but that in various ways hints of the American dream of a multicultural society and suggests the extent to which the American science fiction film has become a key narrative type for much of contemporary culture.” This ‘cyberpunk’ culture has been lapped up by the Japanese and features heavily in Manga and anime. Perhaps the most famous writers and contributors to this particular genre are William Gibson, author of the cult ‘Neuromancer’ and Philip K. Dick, author of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, the novel that was the basis of the 1982 classic ‘Blade Runner’.
Both these writers provided a futuristic world that could be further advanced by the medium of animation. The plot of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ parallels ‘Neuromancer’ very closely, except that rather than an artificial intelligence seeking to be free by merging with its better half, an artificial life form (the Puppet Master) seeks to free itself by merging with the protagonist (cyborg Major Motoko Kusangi).
Developing similar themes to Gibson and Dick, Oshii’s interest in mankind’s over-reliance on technology is brought to a logical conclusion in ‘Ghost in the Shell’, which foregrounds fundamental questions about what it is to be human in an increasingly computerised cyberworld, where a computer programme gains sentience and also questions its own function in the acquisition of power, autonomy and longevity.” In ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and later ‘Blade Runner’ the plot and characterisation are centred on the struggle to determine what is human and what is machine.
It can be argued that ‘Neuromancer’ borrows from modern Eastern culture as the locale is set in Japan, however, it is the significance of the characters rather than the setting that has cemented it as a science-fiction classic. In Dick’s novel, the opening image of the book, comparing nature to technology, sets the tone of this narrative. The protagonist, ‘Case’ is a combination of man and machine; a now common trait amongst Cyberpunk literature and animation.It is this imagery that Oshii has borrowed from the West that has provided the background to his work; ‘Blade Runner’ has been labelled as one of the finest examples of post-noir with its anti-heroes, atmospheric lighting and dark storylines, and Oshii replicates this in his film. He uses sound, and in particular the score written by Kenji Kawai’s to achieve an emotional response from the viewer that is a million miles from any Disney cartoon. He presents ‘Ghost in the Shell’ with the feeling of a bona fide film noir that just happens to be an anime production.
As such Oshii has admittedly borrowed American ideas, themes and culture but he has formed his own creative style out of it. He uses the medium not only to entertain but to put forward questions of morality to an audience that are not treated like children: Oshii develops the form by refusing innocence and indifference, insisting upon only the maturity of the medium. Indeed, while in an accessible, orthodox model, it only advances the case further that all animation is in some sense experimental, even within populist forms.”
From my research I have drawn the conclusion that Japanese animation has indeed been influenced by twentieth century American culture. This has happened side by side with the country as a whole accepting elements of Western popular culture. As early as the beginning of the century under the leadership of Emperor Meiji Japan began to embrace the West after years of being an insular island race. It was immediately after the end of the Second World War, when Japan was occupied by the Americans under General MacArthur from 1945 to 1951, that the floodgates opened. American ‘control’ influenced education, culture and general living. Whereas the older generation saw this as Japan ‘losing its heart’ the younger generation thought of it as a fresh start. This is evident in Japan’s rise to power in the 1960s onwards. The Feudal system of Japan that had reigned until 1868 had been disregarded; the way of the samurai had been supplanted by the power of the microchip. The nation had taken on board American culture and adjusted it for their own purpose. This ability to progress with outside influences paved the way for animators such as Kazuhiko Okabe, Taiji Yabushita, Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Ôtomo and Mamoru Oshii.
It is worthy of note that it has not completely been one-way traffic. The Japanese animators have been influenced by American culture (Disney, comic books, Cyberpunk, etc.) but in turn the Americans, and the West, have imported attributes specifically found in Manga and anime. The creative team behind ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, Andy and Larry Wachowski, are Japanese anime fans and were the driving force behind the 2003 animated film ‘The Animatrix’. Advertising agencies in the United States have also picked up on the popularity of anime with the Coca Cola group producing the ‘Obey Your Thirst Voltron’ campaign, combining anime and hip-hop to sell Sprite.Sales of Manga comics and picture novels in North America grew over 40 per cent to $140 million in 2004.
This trend was also boosted when director Hayao Miyazaki won the Oscar for Best A

Animation in TV Commercials

The effectiveness of animation in TV commercials
Bryant & May were the first British company to utilize animation for advertising purposes. In 1899 animator Arthur Melbourne-Cooper was hired to produce a stop-motion short in which matchstick men move along a ladder and paint an appeal on a wall. This appeal read `For one guinea Messrs Bryant & May will forward a case containing sufficient to supply a box of matches to each man in a battalion with the name of the sender inside.'(www.bfi.co.uk) It is easy to be cynically dismissive of what is obviously a clever, if extremely crude, ad campaign disguised as a patriotic act of charity during the Boer war. However it is not as easy to be as dismissive of the extent to which animation has been adopted from these humble beginnings as a prevailing force within modern advertising strategy.

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The 22nd September 1955 gave birth to commercial television broadcasting in the United Kingdom. Right from the outset advertisers where quick to seize upon the opportunity and advertising possibilities that animation put in front of them. During these early years up to a third of television advertising was animated such as the “Murray Mints, the too-good-to-hurry mints,” or Snap, Crackle an Pop,” for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies which both debut in 1955. The Kellogg ads brought to life hand drawn characters that had been used on the packaging of cereal boxes since 1928 and the campaign still runs to this day. The Murray Mints commercial, which featured soldiers in bearskin hats march in time to a jingle, won best ad of the year in the inaugural year of British television advertising. (Robinson, 2000, p35) J Walter Thompson who had handled the Guinness account since 1929 set about bringing to life; through the process of animation, the extremely popular Gilroy posters that had become an institution and started a ‘Guinness culture.’
If advertisers were keen to use animators in their campaigns then animators where certainly keen to encourage receive the work. The two industries formed a symbiosis which was characterised by the overnight emergence of a whole new market in the advertising industry meant that there were a lot of new opportunities for young animators to set up new companies with the minimum of capital and experiment with new techniques. Companies such as biographic which was set up by Bob Godfrey who produced ads for various companies such as Shipams fish paste and Nestle. (Threadgould, 2005)
The use of animation in commercials certainly proved popular with advertisers, and with home viewers but it was the “Homepride flour men” who proved that it could also be an effective tool. The “Homepride flour men” ad debut in 1965. The ad featured two men in black business suits and bowler hats standing in between two packets of flour. A sieve is placed over the head of one of the men and flour poured into it. The processes is repeated with Homepride flour which sieves much quicker as it is graded and the second man is instantly covered in flour turning his black suit white. The reason is explained by the man in the hat; voiced by Dads Army star John Le Mesurier; and his words produced the slogan ‘GRADED GRAINS MAKE FINER FLOURS.’
The campaign succeeded in making Homepride a market leader within four months. These characters became so popular that a leader (Fred) was named by the advertising brains to give a name to the uniform faces. Merchandise such as aprons, peppermills, fridge magnets and various other kitchenalias were produced as ‘collectors’ items. Fred’s image spurned a whole range of sub products for the company and it is still used to sell a variety of Homepride products today. To keep up with changing times made retain a sense of tradition; various comedians such as Richard Briers and Paul Merton have voiced Fred, he is today voiced by Nick Frost from Spaced.
Homepride have managed to infuse their brand identity with that of Fred, their iconic mascot. They have used his effigy on other products such as sauces and kitchen utensils to place the home pride brand firmly into people’s kitchens. However the runaway success of a particular ad campaign does not guarantee an increase of sales of the product it is supposed to promote.
Creature Comforts began life as a short film. It was an incredibly engaging short due to the interaction between fantasy and reality with which it presented the viewer. In his book Understanding Animation Paul Wells describes the relationship between the diegetic narrative and the characters surroundings as fabrication and suggest that it is a narrative strategy. This is to say that ‘fabrication essentially plays out an alternative version of material existence, recalling narrative out of constructed objects and environments, natural forms and substances, and the taken for granted constituent elements of the everyday world.’(Wells, 1998 p90)  This means that there is a relationship between the abstract expression of character through the model and the ‘constituent elements of the everyday world,’ which lends itself more towards mimesis. Despite the fact that animation is an abstract form of expression, these ads have a ‘documentary feel’ that lends a voice of authority to their claims.
 Nick Parks Creature Comforts and the electricity adverts that followed it present a world in which highly stylised models of animals are animated with the voices of members of the British public. The opinions and the voices of the public and then perfectly matched to appropriate animals. The most memorable example being Frank the jogging tortoise. Frank chats to a locked off camera about how nice it is to come back from a ten mile run into a warm flat, and how it is important that the boiler is easily “turn off and onable.” The world being presented to the consumer is instantly recognizable; frank is discussing the simple pleasures of modern life. He is an everyman despite the fact that he is a talking animal.
The affinity between model animation and the physical world in which it is filmed means that it is to a certain extent confined by the physical laws of our world in order to remain recognizable and believable. Of course these laws can are being flouted, model characters can talk and discuss everyday matters like members of the general public, but the relationship between the animated models and the world they inhabit means that when physical law is flouted a sense of the uncanny or the fantastic is achieved.
This is why the shorts or so engaging but it is also why they failed as ads. Despite the fact that the campaign reached number 4 in a 2000 poll of ‘The 100 greatest TV ads,” the common misconception is that the ads were selling gas. As Nick Park himself explains it, “People still refer to them as ‘the gas adverts.’” (Robinson, 2000, p124) Although the ads were highly memorable they failed to link the commercial and the product.
Successful animalised advertising campaigns are based entirely on the same principles as successful live action campaigns. “Advertising’s central function is to create desires that did not previously exist.” (Dyer, 1982 p6) A miss-judged campaign such as the creature comforts campaign may not be deemed successful if it does not stimulate within the consumer a desire to consume a given product. Where as the Kellogg animated mascots for frosties, rice krispies and coco-pops have succeeded in becoming intrinsically infused with the products that they are selling.
One of the main advantages of using animation in advertising is the ability of animators to create environments and worlds that could not be accessed or reproduced by a live action camera crew. These artificial environments can be used to stimulate imagination and desire, to create a fantastical world of possibility, which can then be realised by the purchase of a given product. Coco-pops are advertised by a variety of jungle characters that inhabit a fantastical world of imagination and fun that is extremely appealing to young children.
Also when advertising medical products such as toothpaste, animated medical presentations can be employed. These usually take the form of a split screen with the advertised product on one side of the screen and a leading competitor on the other. The animation will then demonstrate just how the product works and is more effective than a rival brand.
Another appeal of animation to the ad man is the classlessness of the form. (Threadgould, 2005) characters such as the Homepride’s Fred and the Fairy liquid baby are free from the class constraints of traditional British society. They bridge the class gap and appeal to proletariat and privileged alike.
Animation can also be a relatively inexpensive process. Pioneers such as Peter Sachs of Larkin studios and Bob Godfrey of biographic, found quicker cheaper animation methods than the traditional fluid aesthetic style of Disney. They employed jagged and rough stylings that borrowed from German expressionism. The theory being, to use limited animation to maximum effect.  (Threadgould, 2005) By emphasising certain details advertisers can allude to certain qualities that can be associated with the product. For example the Michelin Man’s rounded tyre body alludes to the strength and durability of the tyres but also their malleability.
The problem facing animating advertisers is a problem, which faces animators in general. The immediately obvious thing about animation is that it is an overtly fake diegetic form; that is unlike live action, which is often concerned with replicating the real world to achieve mimesis; the artificial process of creating narrative form is emphasized by the fact that the viewer is witnessing inanimate drawings brought to life through motion. The difficulty here is that advertising is the process of creating desire within the consumer; it suggests that there is a more desirable reality available to its audience through the consumption of a product. Successful animated adverts must therefore reconcile the fact that they are presenting to the consumer a fiction by alluding to an underlying truth.
This is not necessarily problematic; Aesop’s fables were moral tales that spoke of ethical truths through anthropomorphic parable. Stories like the lion and the mouse or the wolf in sheep’s clothing took well-known anthropomorphic traits of certain animals and moulded them into cautionary tales about how one should live their life. In the same way animation selects certain details to present to the viewer to create abstract meaning that a consumer can readily identify with.
The concept of the Jolly Green Giant for example is ludicrous; none of sound mind would actually believe that a giant green man lives in cornfields overseeing the quality of the corn. However symbolically he is representative of the qualities that the company wish to associate with there corn. He is a symbol of strength and power that come from nature. The corn he promotes is healthy strong and wholesome and this health can be acquired by those who consume it. He is jolly and friendly, a gentle giant who cultivates top quality product with a deft touch. We is also bright green the colour of nature, a symbol of health and vitality, the essence of life itself. Through these associations meaning is abstracted rather than dictated. It is the art of gentle persuasion as opposed to ‘the hard sell.’
Many people have preconceived ideas about animation as a whimsical medium suitable only for humour and children’s entertainment; however there are many examples of animation as serious political statement. Halas and Batchelor produced Animal Farm in 1954 as an adaptation of George Orwell’s novel. Scholars have often studied it as an allegory about the rise of Stalinism and the threat of communism, but it is no know that American backer Louis DeReochemount was a front man for the American CIA and the film was purposely used as anti Russian propaganda.  Like any other medium with an understanding of its aesthetic qualities can be used seriously and to devastating effect.
A recent charity advertisement on behalf on the NSPCC depicted an animated child being sadistically and habitually beaten by his father. The ad showed the child being burnt with cigarettes, thrown down stairs and chocked. Humorous sound effects and cartoon clichés along the same style of Tom and Jerry where used. This was a visual and aural aesthetic that the viewers were used to associating with harmless and enjoyable children’s cartoons. However the tension in play between the diegetic aesthetic of the animated child and the mimetic aesthetic of the father and the background environment served to unease, and unsettle to the point of disturbing the viewer. The viewer was left to imagine the results of such violence on a real child and the commercial’s effectiveness at highlighting the concerns of the NSPCC was undeniable.
So why has animation become an effective tool in animation? The answer to this question lies within the concept of brand and brand identity. If the aim of the advertiser is to communicate the identity of a given brand as quickly and as succinctly as possible, then animation is an ideal medium.
 In his book ‘Ad worlds: Brand, media, and audiences.’ Greg Myers defines branding as “the attachment of meanings to a labelled product.” (Myers, 1998, p33) That is to say that semiotic associations are associated with a given brand through the way it is produced, placed, promoted and priced. For example Guinness is a uniquely produced stout that is ubiquitously placed in almost every pub of the nation. It has a history of promoting itself through humour as a traditional drink to unwind and relax with and it is priced at a slight premium to give it a hint of exclusivity.
Wally Olins suggests that a modern world that has become saturated with advertising, branding has become an essential tool in order for the consumer to quickly decipher to advertisers message before they are distracted by a competitor. In the words of Olins; “Why are brands such a clear and unique manifestation of our time? Simply because in a world that is bewildering in terms of competitive clamour, in which rational choice has become almost extinct, brands represent clarity, reassurance, consistency, status, membership –b everything that enables human beings to define themselves. Brands represent identify.” (Olins, 2003, p27)
Getting consumers to empathise with a brand identity, and to desire to become a part of that identity can be extenuated through the use of a brand character. From Tony the Tiger to Joe Camel and the re-imagination of the milky bar kid to animated form, drawn and animated characters have been used to sell everything from children’s toys to cigarettes. These characters become intrinsically linked to the qualities of the product that they are selling. So what is it about the process of creating an animated character that is so effective in advertising? 
In his book ‘Understanding Animation;’ Paul Wells sums up the basic principles of characterization as a narrative strategy in animation as; “the character may be understood through its costume or construction, it’s ability to gesture or move and the associative aspects of its design.” (Wells, 1998, p105)
Regardless of if an animated character is an animal or human, animators rarely try to completely reproduce natural form. As such the problem is that they are presenting viewers with unnatural looking beings. If the viewer is to accept the characters shown before them, the characters themselves must be presented as believable.  This is why animators rely on exaggeration of individual features to suggest certain character types. Halas and Manvell describe this in their book ‘the technique of film Animation. ”Characterization is achieved by the distortion of shapes and forms – big eyes, big mouth, big nose, large head small body etc.” (Halas and Manvell, 1968, p65) What the animators are stressing are the gesturing parts of the body, particularly the features of the head. The eyes, nose, mouth and ears are all vital in creating the illusion of human emotion. Anthropomorphic qualities in animals such as the strength of Tony the Tiger can be used promote a product as healthy or enabling strength.
There is a general rule of thumb with regards to which shapes go with what characters: kind gentle characters tend to have soft rounded faces with wide smiles and large rounded eyes. The Pillsbury Dough Boy is a great example of this principle. He is the embodiment of the jolly fat man. Generalizations such as this one serve as visual shorthand for the viewer; they optimise the impact of the character through economy and allow the viewer to make semiotic connections and process narrative information about the characters more quickly. In the words of Wells, animation “manages to compress a high degree of narrative information into a limited period of time through a process of condensation.”(Wells, 1998, p76)
This method of economy and condensation in animation characterisation was born out of functionality as much as anything. Partially it was due to the fact that advertisements are extremely short. As such narrative information has to be delivered with great speed. In the medium of the television commercial, advertisers have anywhere between ten and thirty seconds in order to convey their message. As such the visual shorthand that animation design employs is perfect for the fast and accurate communication of the advertisers message.   With television being the dominant domain of the animated short, characters have to be easily recognizable on a small screen. It’s much easier to do this by recognizing one or two strong individual characteristics than several small ones. Most importantly however the simpler that a character is to draw, the quicker they become to reproduce.They rely on caricature and stereotype to relay narrative information quickly and succinctly.
The Homepride flour men discussed earlier in this essay are a great example of how an understanding of characterisation in animation can give rise to a successful marketing campaign. They had a simple uniform design that was all at once, striking, memorable, unique and simple. The business suits and bowler hats stood for a business like British attitude, that at the same time was overly extravagant for selling flour and as such was self mocking. The characters were taken to the heart of the nation. With the effigy of Fred on all sorts of kitchen utensils his rightful place became the kitchens of British homesteads, and as such so did the Homepride brand.
The twin process of animated character development and product branding both strive towards condensing as much narrative information into the least amount of detail possible and the shortest amount of time available.  Animation is an intrinsically imaginative medium. The human mind goes through a thought process of abstracting meaning from an animated diegetic aesthetic. It inspires thought in the way that advertisers wish to inspire thoughts of desire. It can be a pleasing experience in the example of Homepride’s Fred commercials, or it can be disturbing in such a way that the NSPCC have employed, either way the reaction provoked is one of individual thought and identification which in turn promotes the consumer to consume.
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Canemaker, J. (ed.) (1988) Storytelling in Animation: The Art of the Animated Image Vol. 2, Los Angeles: AFI.
Dyer, Gillian. Advertising as Communication. London, Routledge, 1982.
Griffin, H. (2001) The Animators guide to 2D Computer Animation, Oxford: Focal Press,
Halas, J and Manvell, R. (1968) The Technique of Film Animation, Norwich: Focal press Limited.
Kline, S. (1993) Out Of The Garden: Toys, TV and Children’s Culture in the age of Marketing, London: Verso.
Myers, Greg. Ad Worlds: Brands, Media, Audiences, Arnold, 1998.
Ollins, Wally. On Brand, Thames & Hudson, London, 2003.
Robinson, M. (2000) 100 Greatest TV Ads, London: Harper Collins.
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Williams, R. (2001) The Animators Survival Kit, New York: Faber and Faber.
Websites(All accessed 27/11/05)
Animation Nation: The art of persuasion (Dir Merryn Threadgould, 2005, UK)Four Mations: Electric Passions (Dir Paul Madden, 1996, UK)100 Greates TV Ads (Dir Mark Robinson, 2000,  UK)