Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How I Got Hooked on Animation

I've had this blog for over ten years now. I want to relay a bit more on how I got interested in animation.

When I was younger all the animation I watched was theatrically released and televised Western animation that was available through mainstream sources. The first animation I was seriously interested in was The Simpsons and Futurama. But back then, animation wasn't one of my biggest hobbies. My biggest hobby was playing the first two Roller Coaster Tycoon games, particularly the second. There is a web community where people make their own theme parks which was my main hobby from when I was 13 to 17. I wasn't very good at it myself, because I just didn't have the imagination to create all the interconnected aesthetic looking theme parks. At that web site I was reintroduced to Batman Beyond, a show that I'd heard of but had never seen more than a minute or two. At that point I was interested in movies in general, but had little interest in animation in particular.

One day, I was interested in Spirited Away, a film that I'd confused with Lost in Translation perhaps the year before. When I watched it for the first time, I was blown away. That got me interested in animation though I wasn't an animation fan yet. I found out, probably due to a review in the newspaper, I think my dad noticed. I watched it and I enjoyed it even more than Spirited Away. It's still my favorite animated film. That's what hooked me on animation. But that's only part of the story. Now I'll tell you the movie that got me interested in starting an obscure animation blog.

I looked up movies on Wikipedia's List of Animated Feature Films and I discovered The Adventures of Prince Achmed. I found it on DVD, I think through Netflix. It was the best non-Japanese animated movie that I've seen to this day. It made me realize that there's a lot of good animation out there that isn't being recognized so I started a blog to talk about it.

My current top five animated films are these:

1. Paprika
2. The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
3. Whisper of the Heart
4. Spirited Away
5. Drawn from Memory

Next time I may do a blog post about my favorite animated film from each country I've seen one from. If you're interested in that, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Company in Canada Developing Technology to Mimic Voices

This is an accompaniment to my post The Realism Dilemma. This technology scares me more in the short term because it's easier to perfect than photorealistic video of moving people. If you thought you couldn't trust what's said on radio and podcasts now, well just wait until this technology gets around.

This has other implications as well though. It could mean that voice actor's voices could be used long after they're dead. Also, it means that murderers could pretend that their victims are still alive. There are other possible negative uses but I don't want to distract you from the article. Read it and if you have anything to say then leave a comment.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ubu and the Grande Gidouille Is Now on YouTube

I'm surprised but the other film by Jan Lenica, Ubu and the Grande Gidouille, is no on YouTube with English subtitles. While his first film, Adam 2, was made in Germany and had German language intertitles, this film was made in France and has actual French Dialogue. It's based on the Alfred Jarry play Ubu Roi. The film is probably better seen than described, so here it is:

The embedded version seems to cut off at the bottom so you'll have to watch it in full screen. But you were probably planning to do that anyway. It's sure an exciting time to live in with all these rare animated films available to watch. Hopefully a DVD collection with all of Jan Lenica's work, long and short, will be made available. Enjoy the film and if you like, leave a comment letting me know what you thought.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jan Lenica's Adam 2 Is Now On Vimeo

Link Here:

I haven't had the chance to watch the full movie yet but am looking forward to it. I don't know if there's any character dialogue. I heard what was probably some moments of French with what little I've seen. For a long time I thought it might be lost because it was so hard to get any information on it. For those who are curious on where I found out about it, I found out about it HERE. Thanks, Schamoni Film for this upload. I've been wanting to see this film for years. If you've got an IMDb account, make sure to rate this film once you've seen it so it will get an official rating.

This is one of the most exciting developments since the founding of this blog and I hope you all enjoy it!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Realism Dilemma

Soon enough we will find that realistic animation is not only for entertainment and education but can also cause great harm. Today we already have trouble distinguishing fake news from real news. Tomorrow we will not know whether what we see is real, or even if what we can touch is the genuine article. The technologies of realistic animation as well as 3D printing and similar automated manufacturing will allow us to create visual illusions of real things and then eventually create fakes that can't be distinguished from the real thing.

So what is the big deal about all of this? Well this will represent a considerable blow to the average person's ability to understand what is and isn't real. If that weren't bad enough, the societal consequences will be worse. The fact that anybody, and thanks to automatic animation technology coming out, I really do mean anybody, can do this means that we will have to find a way to know what is real and what isn't. The only way to tell what is real and what isn't is to have a surveillance state that records people and their surroundings all of the time.

That's right. The technology that's being used to make fancy special effects and artificial worlds is going to have far reaching consequences that will change our society in very ugly ways. You won't be able to have a surprise party anymore thanks to the constant surveillance on everybody at every time. And it will get even worse when we find a way to fool the human eye better with visual scenes seen in real life that are entirely fake.

Just imagine how many political parties, cults and religions are going to use pseudo-life scenes to convince people of their point of view. After 3D printing gets more sophisticated there will be fake artifacts to go along with it.

If you want to know just how far from reality we've already come, consider IKEA's advertisements which are made with rendered computer models that look completely real. There are already surely many other examples which we aren't aware of doing the exact same thing.

Today's magic tricks will be tomorrow's false realities. Remember that during the next  special effects heavy blockbuster you watch.

What Do We Do Once We've Mastered Animation?

Once we've made photorealistic moving pictures the next frontier will be photorealistic simulations with maximum interactivity. In other words, simulations where you can do any number of things you want that aren't part of some preconceived creator's plan. Picture a world where you can do whatever you want, like scrape the paint off a building or blow up a whole city and have it be done in a different way every time.

Then we will bring the virtual into the real world with robotic scenes that exploit magnetic fields to create real life animations using micro robots. There are other ways of creating pseudo-in-life scenes but this is the most practical. At some point they're bound to become interactive,, by that I mean touchable, though I imagine that day would be a long ways off because if the robots get too small, they could be accidentally inhaled. Robotic scenes that you can move around in could be an experience more exciting than a video game but of course there will be certain safety guidelines which I can't yet predict.

Somewhere along the way, art will also evolve psychologically. If you like looking at art that doesn't look back, you're in for a rough ride. In the future art will be able to analyze a person's gaze and change things depending on where you're looking. I suspect that most if not all the technology necessary to do this is available now. So if you're an artist and you feel like messing with somebody, go ahead and do it. Just wait until we have live animation that records the person watching it and adjusts depending on how much they like it.

At some point we will progress to the last two stages: simulated intelligent life forms and real designed life forms. We will do so because there is no other alternative just as Pixar makes more realistic looking environments in film after film because they want to stay on the technological edge. Just like they ignore the awkwardness of realistic looking CG environments, people in the future will ignore the ethics of artificial life doing exactly what we want it to do and its similarity to human slavery of the past. Proponents will say that unlike slaves, artificial life forms will want to do what we made them to do. But of course, if we give them any sort of will of their own, some will want to do something else and if they're smarter, stronger and faster than us then they'll want to boss us around. The question is this: Do we want to let the machines manage us or do we want to become machines ourselves and evolve beyond humanity?

If you don't believe me, then you'll want to read this:

That alone should be evidence that human beings are living on borrowed time.

Nobody knows exactly how bright or dark our future may be. If they do know, it'll be hard to tell the true seers from the fakes. For all we know every human alive will perish and none of this shall happen. Or maybe we might decide not to pursue further technological innovation that would potentially ruin us. I don't think that will happen though, because we tend to see the continued existence of the human species as an imperative and the Earth will become uninhabitable in around 100 million years as the sun grows hotter. Or, closer to the present, we will need to figure out how to maintain ecosystems that we barely understand. I suspect that the latter will be one of many forces that drive the development of general intelligence superhuman level AI.

Before I wrap this up, there are a couple of questions. Will we at some point redesign Earth's ecology in order to keep up with us if we evolve into machines of some kind? Should we not design psychological art of this sort due to what it may evolve into? How will we cope with animation and later interactive artforms that look and sound, maybe even taste, feel and smell like reality? I may answer some of these questions in a blog post soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Relatively Recent Animated Films with No US Release

First up, Garry Bardin's stop motion adaptation of The Ugly Duckling

Next, from Brazil there's two animated films that need to be brought over. One is Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury directed by Luiz Bolognesi and the other is Garoto Cosmico, the first feature from the director of The Boy and the World, Alê Abreu. While Garoto Cosmico doesn't look anywhere near as good as The Boy and the World, it looks to be interesting enough for completists to watch. I was surprised to learn on Cartoon Brew that the film isn't even available in Brazil.

From Italy there's The Art of Happiness directed by Alessandro Rak. I don't know exactly why this film hasn't been released in the US. It seems like the same pattern for every m. One or two places review it and if it doesn't get a glowing review, it almost always gets ignored.

Trailer: The Art of Happiness from Submarine on Vimeo.

From the studio Folimage in France, there's Aunt Hilda! which is directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Benoît Chieux. I would like to see this film despite the mixed reviews. It looks about as good as Mia and the Migou but appears to be unpopular due to its environmental message as well as the bizarre plot.

The two films here that interest me the most are The Ugly Duckling and The Art of Happiness. I'm interested in seeing all of them, however, if they get at least a DVD with English subtitles or an international release. Let me know what films you're interested in here, or which recent films I didn't mention here that you want to see given an English language release.