Digital Age

I’ve often expressed my displeasure at the annoying sameness of CGI films. It’s not that I’ve anything against our amazing new world of digital filmmaking because the technology has allowed us to do things we could not even have imagined some years ago. However, I find myself becoming weary of the sameness of animated motion pictures. This became apparent recently while watching the evolution of a motion picture whose initial production design totally blew me away. The concept art was brilliant and I couldn’t wait to see this innovative motion picture move into production. I should have known better. Once the film moved into production it looked pretty much like every other CG film I had seen. What’s wrong, I wondered? Animation was once such a creative medium offering every opportunity for personal expression. Why do all the movies suffer from this awful sameness? It’s as though they’re all being made by the same computer. What the heck! Maybe they are!

Enough of my animated rant. I know things will change eventually and artists will again gain control over our remarkable filmmaking tools. I’m eager to see and feel the hand of the artist in the making of animated motion pictures. I’m not saying todays films haven’t been good because most have been remarkable and audiences have responded by supporting the best of today’s efforts. Personally, I find too many of them annoyingly synthetic and often lacking in the visceral, emotional connection with the artist. I know I’m an aging filmmaker from another animation era, but I confess I miss the hand drawn connection this amazing medium once gave us. When I recently viewed the spirited hand drawn animation by a talented young animator named Joanna Davidovich I was suddenly given hope that the medium may not be lost after all.

In the meantime, I’m trying to clear my head by going back to my traditional past and working with pencil, paints and brushes. I’ve moved away from my Cintiq Tablet and over to my traditional Disney KEM Webber Desk where I’m working on another silly drawing of Minnie and Mickey Mouse. I don’t have a particular reason for doing this traditional sketch. It simply felt good to pick up these ancient tools. Tools that let me draw and paint again. I think guys like Glen Keane and Andreas Deja would agree with me. Sometimes it just feels good to connect with the paper or canvas. It’s almost as though the artist puts a little of himself or herself into the drawing. It’s there, of course. You can feel it. Somehow, you lose the connection with the computer. There’s a digital barrier erected between the tools and the artist. Perhaps one day when our amazing technology matures, the barrier will be removed. Sadly, it remains today, and that’s the reason I still cannot truly connect with CGI filmmaking.