Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Designs vs Bad Designs

There is a very simple rule in animation...

More lines = More difficult/time consuming to animate

Less lines = Less difficult/time consuming to animate

Simple isn't it??

"More lines" could be replaced in the equation by "more shapes" or "more details".

But to keep the discussion simple... lets agree to use "more lines" in the conversation.

So animating designs with "more lines" will mean more resources needed to animate those designs.

More time.

More manpower.

And ultimately.... more money.

If cost is not an object...  knock yourself out and make your designs as complex and detailed as you wish.

But sadly for most projects.... that is rarely the case.

As time goes by... resources are more and more limited to make animated project.

You are expected on a production to do more and more with less money and less people then the project before.

 And that very reason is one more reason why it drives me crazy that Bruce Timm and his gang keep on redesigning their characters.

They had developed through the years a style that was beautifully streamlined, that was made up of "less line", that was perfect for animation.

But for their direct to DVD projects... they keep on going for designs with "more lines".

They keep on doing the same mistakes that Marvel did with their animated projects in the 90s.

The Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a perfect example of that. 

And what puzzles me is that Bruce Timm is even aware of all the mistakes that Marvel did.

To quote him from Comicology issue #1:
"But I don't want to build myself up by slamming anybody else, but they (Marvel) make some really wrong creative choices on the shows, everything from the art direction to the voice casting."
So it drives me even crazier knowing this to see the Timm gang repeat the same mistakes.

But I understand that it does not all depend on Timm. They have at least half a dozen producers who seem to want to have a say in the creative process. Listen to the commentaries of the JL: New Frontier DVD movie... you will see a perfect example of that.

And that is without counting the various suits in the Warner and DC offices that most likely do try to also have a say in the process.

For years... the Timm style was a perfect example of a style with "less lines". It was a perfect example of the right way to do animation.

The Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a perfect example of "more lines" that makes the animators job next to impossible to do properly. It is a perfect example of the wrong way to do animation.

And the crazy part is that it is essentially the same people.

The JL: Crisis on 2 Earths fall somewhere in between.

Then again... I am sure that some people look at the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies DVD and think that it is well made.

I often see people who will look at low end animation production and think that it is well animated.

I foolishly sometimes try to give them a basic animation course to try to explain some of why I think it is poorly animated. ;)

But too often it is a futile exercise.

It is like showing someone a blue wall and asking them what color they are seeing. If they answer you that it is a green wall.... not much you can do to explain to them that what they see is not "green".... it's "blue".

Essentially... if they cannot see it for themselves.... not much you can do to make them see it.

But being a foolish fool... I sometimes try nonetheless to help people see the "blue wall". ;)

But enough design blogs for now.... I am starting to sound like a broken record. ;)


Sea-of-Green said...

I think with those films, there's a problem with filmmakers wanting the art to resemble the style of a particular comic-book artist. An admirable goal, but not really practical. Of course, Darwyn Cooke's style translated perfectly to Justice League: New Frontier. But he was a storyboard artist, so OF COURSE his art style worked!

Pierre Villeneuve said...


Yes I think that for their DVD movies that try to adapt an already existing comic.... the intent seems to be to emulate the art style of the artist.

Which is part of the problem... and in part why I say that they are repeating some of the mistakes made by Marvel in the 90s.

When Marvel made the X-Men TV show... they were trying to make it look like Jim Lee's X-Men.... which is part of the reason why the animation in those shows was not very good.

Bruce Timm seems to know this..... so it kills me that him and his crew are repeating the very same mistake.

The Spectre is a GREAT example of doing it right. They did not try to draw like Jim Aparo... but they did capture the essence of the Jim Aparo Spectre.

For Cook, yes Cook worked as a storyboard artist for Bruce Timm.

When he did New Frontier, Cook was trying to somewhat emulate what was done in the various Timm animated series.

So essentially, it came full circle when the Timm crew made New Frontier that was emulating what they had done to begin with. ;)


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