Hand-Drawn to Computers: The Animated Film

Hand-Drawn to Computers: The Animated Film

Let's take a break from the real world and see what started animation in media - we all need some bright colors.
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When you compare where technology was in one era and where it is now, it is obvious that things will be improved in ways almost unimaginable. Less than seventy years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight, Neil Armstrong took his giant leap onto the Moon. Comic books were propaganda machines during the Second World War, but by 1989, famed graphic novels such as Watchmen and Maus were top sellers. Film is the same way, with technology and techniques changing almost every year. Among many shining examples of this is animation. What began as simple drawings and music has evolved into almost lifelike computer effects. While the combination of animation and live-action is notable, this is going to focus on entirely-animated films, with some exceptions. So, how did animated movies become a mainstay of the industry?

In 1906, the first animated short film appeared – Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, directed by J. Steward Blackton. This project used chalkboard drawings put to film and sped up in order to give the appearance of motion. This, in turn, led to others trying to jump in on the cartoon market, and “traditional animation” was born following the release of the French cartoon Phantasm. A massive boom in animation started, with political cartoonists started taking animation jobs in the rising film industry. During the silent film era, studios would package cartoons with their releases, making a typical movie-going experience as seeing a cartoon or two, then a few serials (half-hour “chapters” not unlike a television program), a newsreel, another cartoon, then the feature film. In 1926, the oldest surviving animated full-length film was released, being The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Many of these films are lost, with only frames or rough descriptions available. However, at this point in time, none of the features used all hand-drawn animation for the entire project.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney was running an animation studio when it went bankrupt. Disney formed another company and produced the Alice Comedies, which combined a live-action girl with animated characters. He also created Steamboat Willie, which introduced Mickey Mouse. Warner Brothers started bringing in people to work on their cartoon packages, and Disney kept his people working. In 1934, Disney announced his first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During the production, the animators who were working on Betty Boop cartoons were brought in, as Disney's team was not used to animating people. These animators had a vastly different design for Snow White, a modest dress that showed her ankles and fuller facial features. Disney declared this too “risque” for the audience, and the design was changed. Going over budget countless times, the project was almost set to be a failure. This would be proven wrong following the 1937 release, to widespread acclaim. Walt Disney led his company to produce at least one film a year, in addition to countless shorts. At Warner Brothers, Mel Blanc and Tex Avery were just starting out, and the Looney Tunes followed shortly thereafter. Disney and Warner Brothers became fast competitors, a rivalry that continues to this day.

To achieve the lifelike motion of the characters, Disney employed live-action models for the films. A difficult to draw scene would be filmed with some props and actors in full costume, and then the animators would use that to work the scenes out on paper. This method would be used and expanded upon in a process called rotoscoping. A live-action reference was filmed, then animators drew over the frames of the actors to match the cartoon – think of it as early motion capture. The controversial Song of the South and the less-remembered Reluctant Dragon were the first features to have actors directly interacting with animated characters. As time went on, more and more techniques were used, and the Japanese film industry began producing animated films and television programs. To go into an explanation about every innovation and new territory the animators found themselves discovering would be almost impossible. The world of animation exploded in the Cold War era, leading to more and more people trying to push the limits. One of these people was none other than George Lucas, visionary behind Star Wars.

During production on The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas established the Graphics Group as a division of Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM). They were tasked with finding new ways of creating images for film, using any and all resources. The 1982 Disney film Tron introduced computer-generated environments and pushed the Group to attempt it themselves. Meanwhile, John Lasseter was fired from Disney and showed his plans for a computer-animated film. Working as a freelance animator, Lasseter made The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. Around this time, Lucas was finalizing a bitter divorce, and Lucasfilm was losing money due to the decline of licensed merchandise for Return of the Jedi. After the team developed the Pixar Image Computer, Lucas began shopping the company around, eventually making a deal with Steve Jobs, then recently fired from Apple. The Graphics Group was renamed Pixar in 1985, and Lasseter continued to work with the team to produce computer animation, winning Oscars in the process. Eventually, this led to an attempt to create an entirely computer-animated feature. In 1995, Toy Story took the film industry by storm and launched a multi-billion dollar empire for Pixar.

American animation began leaning towards CG, while Japanese animation (anime) was still a traditional medium. Studio Ghibli's famed string of hit films continued to keep hand-drawn animation afloat in Japan, such as Kiki's Delivery Service. By the early 2000s, Dreamworks entered the scene as a competitor for Pixar. Disney, who had distributed the Pixar films, wanted total ownership of the studio, and when they refused, Disney created Circle 7, a failed animation studio that would have produced sequels to Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. Eventually, Pixar and Disney were able to strike a deal, and Pixar was free to make the sequels at their leisure. The last traditionally animated mainstream American film was The Princess and the Frog – while there are others, it is the last one to be given true fanfare and promotion. Since then, the studios have moved to only CGI.

In the last one hundred or so years of film, animation has changed as dramatically as any other tool or method. From simple flipbooks to Moana and Frozen, the cartoon has become a mainstay of cinema. Since the anti-Axis propaganda of World War II, we have evolved animation into a powerhouse and a genuine respected form of art. All because of some artists trying to test the waters of what early film could do, Walt Disney was able to create a studio that now owns one network, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and the list goes on and on. Every year, the Academy Awards features categories for features and shorts made by a team of artists, digital or hand-drawn, using cartoons to present their story to the world. Considering all these advancements in technology, we must wonder what animation will look like in another one hundred years.

Cover Image Credit: Walt Disney/Disney

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'Difficult Women' Book Review

How Roxane Gay changed how I saw myself
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Roxane Gay is an extremely talented author. I fell in love with her writing after being assigned a section of The Bad Feminist in a creative writing class. I was instantly sucked into this world of someone who expresses sentiments I had not been able to. That got me started, from there I began Difficult Women. As I was wandering through Square Books, it was the title that caught my attention. As a girl I often here comments on how "crazy" or "dramatic" I can be. I could not help myself, I grabbed the book and ran home to start it.

For me, the first few pages makes - or breaks - a book for me. I flew through the first chapter and turned the page ready to find out more. But I was shocked to find that an entirely new story began. Slightly perturbed I started the next chapter expecting the third chapter to go revert back to the trials of the characters in the first chapter. It never happened. By the seventh chapter I was so enthralled with the stories of all the women presented I completely forgot that I wanted some resolution for the sisters in chapter one. The struggles of the women broke my heart, made me want to fight for them, give them and hug and cry for them.

It was then I realized I had a literary crush on Roxane Gay. She exposed the stories behind so called "difficult women" and made the world recognize that those supposed crazy moments were the product of outside events. I felt justified. I felt that as a women someone was finally shedding light on the reasons that I sometimes overreact or get emotional when people do not understand why.

If you are looking for a good pool, beach or airport read I strongly suggest this book. It is one of the most humanizing books with elements of fiction to make it appeal to a wide group of women. The short story style keeps it interesting from start to finish and allows you to decide what the fate of the women may be or for the story to end there and you allow the thoughts of the author to carry on difficult conversations in your thoughts.

Cover Image Credit: LibroMobile

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Teddy And Owen Show All That Not Waiting For Your Best Friend Makes You A Strong Woman

Shonda Rimes shows young woman that valuing yourself in a relationship for two is a strong decision.
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Avani
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Shonda Rimes, the creative genius behind "Grey's Anatomy," has done some crazy things in this 14-season-and-still-going-strong show. From tragically ending the McDreamy storyline to starting the Avery-Pierce romance, Shonda has thrown every sort of curveball for the doctors at Grey-Sloan.

However, in the episode entitled, "One Day Like This," Shonda kicks up the heat with Owen Hunt and Teddy Altman only to end it with a semi-familiar message: even if he is your best friend, you do not have to give up everything for him.

For those that need a quick recap of the relationship between Major Owen Hunt and Major Teddy Altman, their relationship started out on their Iraqi tour where they were both stationed as trauma surgeons. While it was evident that they had some chemistry, Owen, unfortunately, was engaged to Beth at the time.

When Owen was done with the army, he took up a job (post-breakup with Beth) at Seattle Grace where he was wooed by the snarky Cristina Yang. However, never once was Teddy thought of until Christina wanted to learn from a cardio god after Burke left.

Teddy, in every sense of the word, was a badass at cardiology. Cool, collected and a wealth of knowledge, Teddy offered a wide variety of expertise to Christina while still maintaining her composure regarding her feelings about Owen. As a good best friend to a guy, she kept it on the lockdown about how she was the right person for him.

But with Shonda, such feelings have usually been kept a secret for long (otherwise what happens to the good television ratings), and Teddy spills everything to Owen who ends up pushing her away and turning to Christina. And to really top it all off, Owen manages to be involved with her late husband's, Henry's, death.

So when Owen finally gets his life together post-Amelia and goes after Teddy, she gives him a chance. An almost 24-hour chance. Once Owen mentions it was Amelia that brought him to her, Teddy kicks him out and closes the door behind him.

This may disappoint a lot of viewers given that Teddy and Owen are made for each other, but I believe that Shonda Rimes is making an underlying point that waiting around for your best friend is undervaluing you as a woman of power.

Teddy and Owen's relationship is exactly what girls should not do for their best guy friend because all it ends up proving is that the girl puts herself second in the relationship. No woman should ever put herself in the position of waiting for a man to notice her.

Teddy is beautiful in many ways and Owen is only realizing her beauty now. Smart, charismatic, dedicated and caring, Teddy would have loved to have Owen by her side. But time and time again, Owen pushed her away for what he thought was something better.

When Teddy was faced with the decision to have her happily ever after come true, she decides to let it go forever which makes her even more beautiful in my eyes than ever before. Instead of holding on to Owen to complete her, she comes to her senses and lets him go because her own value matters more than what he thinks.

To get to the essence of this moment, Teddy is a stronger, independent woman because she did not fold in the face of Owen promising to be there for her because he wants to. This poignant moment hits home for me because it shows women that for every guy best friend they have, it does not make them weak for giving into them or strong if they don't. Instead, it makes her human.

Then again, we would all be human because choices like that aren't easy. Making the right choice for you regarding your best friend is important because it only accounts for what you want. Not what is good for the other person which ultimately is not selfish at all.

Cover Image Credit: ABC
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