I hate walk cycles

Is it just me, or is the obligatory concentration on walk cycles really boring and cliched? Of course, how people(animals, animated cheese-on-toasts) move is a great way to show character and mood - (sneaky, happy, existential dread). In a character with limited information (when compared to a human actor) we have to use everything we can to establish a real, empathic personality. And this includes posture and movement. It's the idea that everything is about walking...  I can appreciate the philosophy that "Its not the destination, it's the glory of the ride" but the more interesting journey is a metaphorical one...

In 10 years of hand-drawn animation, the current short is the first  time I have ever needed to concentrate on walking as an activity, and tried to show the difference between walking with hope, drudging without it, going up a hill or down...but all of these were variations on the same character, in a mostly one character storyline with no dialogue. So the way he moves is all there is, and what he is doing is walking (to get away from, to get to, to search for...) . generally, walking in these shorts is a rare activity, its all about cauldron stirring, extreme closeups and maybe drawing yourself a new face.

It's possible I completely misunderstand how to do animation and that all of my work would be improved by a greater study of walk cycles; but for me, the movements, their extreme range, anticipation and aftermath of each one in Disney or the classics is too much. Too ugly and unreal. The extreme exaggeration is also part of what makes female characters so sexualised. But is it necessary? I like my movements and my characters to be more subtle, less funny but more likeable.

If we all learn (and teach)how to do animation the same way, the films will all come out the same way. And part of that problem may be that in most commercial/ feature animations, the imagery is flat and bland - that is to say it has no signs of having been drawn by a human hand - perfect curves, smooth flat colour, shading provided by computer algorithm. In small films by independent makers you will get something more shaky, quirky, visually interesting even before anything starts to move. The character can be described in the marks, the energy of the drawn lines, the round/angular smooth/jagged, sketchy/ assured...the materials themselves and their natures & associations. Unfortunately this kind of handmade and "painterly"(ooh I can use that word for the first time since Artschool) style is time-consuming and expensive for studios and so seldom seen. How can we scale it up? How can we economise ? How can we treat animation as an art process rather than a commercial film production line? and How can we encourage students to really experiment with technique, texture, style but still provide them with the skills they need if they want to join the commercial hegemony? I'm not sure walk cycles is an answer...


15 second hero

I thought a minute was an interesting challenge but instagram gives you 15 seconds... and I've just completed 24 animations of less than 15 seconds for the advent calendar. Besides the strangeness of thinking so much about xmas in October, there is the challenge of a narrative that can unfold so quickly but which has some kind of meaning, isn't just a oneline joke. Something with a character - a "hero" you can care about and believe in. (15 second hero -better than 3 minute hero? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA-gTRqqTkM hmm.).

Definitely fun to do: normally animations take so long that one good idea lasts for months - even with
random sidebars and plot changes. Doing this meant having several ideas every day, discarding the weaker ones and the ones that are too hard to draw (well I did learn something from the squid-in-a-rubber-suit experience) and still having two left that I could run with. It was a good workout, another learning curve...and just hope some people will see them - especially since they have a limited shelf life! Although, I have been in discussion about a Channukah calendar...
UPDATE: having finished at least the first rush of these, going back to the film I was making before - and kind of stuck on...messing with extracts from it has helped me improve the "big" film (ooh could even be 5 minutes) and tighten up the storyline. A useful reminder of the creative power of playing, and of the need sometimes to look away and be prepared to follow ludicrous tangents in order to find the best direction...


Actual films online

Quick note to both my readers...short films, trailers, and experiments are now being posted twice a week on Instagram ...Highlights, Lowlights and random nuns.
Also, I'm leading up to an animated advent calendar to be posted daily from 1st December.
Don't like Instagram - then try Vimeo