For Animation’s Sake

As an animator, I have found that animation in general is an excellent tool for creating exciting characters, environments, and situations that cannot otherwise be accomplished using traditional film or live actors. For example, Pumbaa from Disney’s “The Lion King” would never have been as endearing if he was an actual filmed warthog, or a guy in a warthog suit. The animation allowed that character to be fully realized, from the anthropomorphic style of the face and facial expressions, to his exploits in capturing and devouring all sorts of insects and icky things.

When I was in school, we were taught never to use animation if something can be accomplished in “live action.” Nowadays, however, “live action” is a pretty loose term. The recent Transformers movie, by Michael Bay, was considered a live action film, even though probably 70% of it was done using computer generated 3D animation. All the Transformers were 3D animated actors, as well as many of the cars and locations. So basically, unless it is an all dialog, independent or modest budget film, you are using animation of some sort no matter what.

So why not just use animation for animation’s sake? Why not animate everything, creating any characters you want looking however you want in any location you want? The answer lies mostly in budget. Why take all this time to draw and create a character when you can have a live actor, who already exists, simply filmed (with a digital camera, wasting no film) for a fraction of the price? Sure, you’ll have to pay the actor (sometimes an exorbitant amount) but in the end it will be less than paying five guys to create the same actor over a period of several months. There’s really no point if all you need is a stand-still, speaking role. Not everybody needs to be jumping across rooftops like Neo in The Matrix or swinging around like Spider-Man.

But when it absolutely must be squashed, stretched, flung, flattened, whirled about or incinerated, or if it needs to be from space, Middle-Earth, or the toxic waste dumps, you can count on animation, in some form or another, to be there.