Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amateur Hour

I saw this on Cartoon Brew and I still can't get over how generally positive the reviews are from the majority of commenters. Only a handful seem to be able to see that this animated ad for the Disney Cruise Line is pretty mediocre. Goofy is poorly drawn and rather clumsily animated, and it's obviously utilizing some software like Flash for some cheap "cutout" style movement, even though a fair amount has been traditionally animated and imported. It's likely Flash being used, as that would also explain the sterile, "metallic" looking colour, lacking the warmth of real paint (or even better computer programs for that matter). Just look at how badly Goofy is drawn as he's typing his vacation reservations: the oversize muzzle, the suspended ear, the flat shirt sleeves, etc. I suspect this ad may have been farmed out to an outside studio, but regardless, Disney should put the time and money into doing it properly, preferably keeping it in-house. As it is, it's just rank amateurism.

25 comments:

Isaac said...

I think the praise on Cartoon Brew has more to do with seeing any sort of hand-drawn animation, even if some (lots) of corners were cut.

This style of shading and coloring has been with us since the early '80s. One edge bright, the other edge dark. I don't like this style at all, but people say this type of shading look better than flat shading. To each their own.

Jason Tammem├Ągi said...

As the art of great hand-drawn animation is slowly being lost, so is the ability to recognise it.

There are some great young talents out there and some real enthusiasts but, for many, the difference seems to be harder and harder to see. And how could it be any different? Think of the amount of drawings people had to analyse, refine, draw, have approved each and every day working their way up in the old studio system. Couple that with everyday access to low-budget and (some, not all) low quality animation and a drought in feature 2D animation and perceptions will shift.

Aricus said...

I am not professional animator, but i can clearly see what the author is saying. In many frames Goofy does look a bit off, along with a few other things in some of the frames.

Even though Disney maybe one of the pinnacles of animation art, it is still a business.

It's like what Winsor McCay said when he first introduced the modernized cartoon...

"Animation should be an art, that is how I had conceieved it. But.. What you fellows have done with it is [make] it into a trade... not an art, but a trade...bad luck."

Jason Scott said...

Looks great to me!

Erik Robinson said...

I really have this problem with Cartoon Brew lately. I'm all for positivity, but only if it's warranted. A lot of bad cartoons appear to have a million defenders. Anyway, glad to see you were as disappointed with the new 'Goofy' short as I was.

Alex said...

It is not as good-looking as the classic cartoons it's a homage to, but it's still a ton better than the animation in other made-for-tv cartoons you see on Disney Channel these days.

There was another recent Goofy cartoon that dealt about buying tvs that might be to your liking. It had a more superior animation from what I recall.

kurtwil said...

Disney uses TOON BOOM, which does the same thing FLASH does but with more net-workability and better animation tools. The shading look of this short's typical of TOON BOOM animation, and as Issac mentioned, very common.

Still,this short felt very uneven (some parts were fine, the typewriter stuff pretty bad).
Whether the production outfit had little time, or an inexperienced crew, I have no idea.

Whatever... Software is only a tool, and if talent isn't there to use it properly, the results won't be all that good.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

I like the story for the cartoon and that gag of Goofy doing the paper work. However, this commerical desperately needed a compitent director. Eric Goldberg or somebody with talent. I agree that this is certainly amatuer work.

I also agree with Isaac on why everyone at CB loves this so much. They slober over it because it was done with paper. So what ? The animation quality was on par with House of Mouse and simular Disney TV crap.

protryar said...

Pete is an animation teacher. His comments are way out of line, especially when many animation students are currently at this level of animation (the Disney ad). Many of your recent posts have contained angry, negative comments - why is this? Is the industry passing you by? It's 2011, not 1980 anymore when you were actually working in the biz. The same can be said about everything- they don't build cars like they used to, they don't build houses like they used to, and so on. They don't build ANYTHING like they used to. That's the reality of life. They don't make animation like they used to either. As an instructor with a high profile, you should choose your public comments waaaay more carefully- you have students and up-and-comers looking up to you. Start posting some more positive stuff and stop being stuck in the past. Don't be one of those old guys who complains about how good things used to be. Be positive, connect with the youth and help them move forward positively- that's your job.

Pete Emslie said...

Protryar - Nobody expects animation students to be operating at a professional level. That's why they're in school to learn their craft. But Disney has historically been the flagship animation studio producing Hollywood cartoons and features. As such, they get no such free pass from me. There is no excuse for the company that pioneered animation as a major form of film entertainment to now be producing animation of such mediocre quality. For the record, I was highly impressed with the recent Goofy short, "How To Hook Up Your Home Theater", as it had great animation, great drawing of Goofy, lush colour, and funny gags well-timed. This Disney Cruise Line promo has none of that, so why should I sing its praises? For this once great studio who used to serve us cake to now be throwing us scant crumbs, it seems that an awful lot of you folks are so starved for hand-drawn animation that you can't tell good from bad. No, my comments are not "way out of line". I'm just not afraid to call it as I see it, that's all.

protryar said...

But you're calling it "amateur hour" and also attached the word 'crap' to the video. If your students know that you make these comments towards animation that you feel is sub-par, then what must they think when you're reviewing their own projects? If they knew you make comments like this, some of them would be afraid to hand in work to you. You're an instructor, and you should know that kids are looking up to you for positive criticism, not negative judgemental bashing like this. You are essentially insulting the artists who produced this. What if one of them was your former student? Your negative comments alone, whether you're "calling it like it is" or not, will create a negative vibe surrounding yourself. If you don't like it that's fine; but remember that the general public does not see the problems that you do as an artist. What's crap to you is great to them. But an artist, ESPECIALLY A TEACHER, you should have never made such deroggatory comments towards other artists. You should consider retracting your post because it looks horrible on you.

Pete Emslie said...

I'll concede one thing to you, Protryar: my use of the tag, "crap" is perhaps unfair, so in deference to you I have now removed it. But I still consider this animation highly amateurish, so the title of the post will remain intact. Again, I distinguish between work at the student level and that at the level of the professional working in the industry, of which Disney is a longtime major player. If we continue to accept subpar work from Disney, then they will believe that it is no longer necessary to shoot for excellence, especially when mediocrity is far cheaper and faster to achieve. I'll continue to criticize Disney whenever I see fit, as I hope that they'll oneday get back on track producing hand drawn animation (and entertainment in general) of genuine quality again.

protryar said...

Remember to not judge so quickly. It is *one* project funded by Disney; with millions more to come. You don't like this one, fine. But wait to see the bigger picture to get a real opinion overall. You used to work with them, but not anymore. Maybe everything went digital and you couldn't keep up? Sour grapes, this is what it is. It isn't their fault, it's yours for not keeping up with today's technology. Same thing happened with photographers. They called all digital photographers "amateurs" because they didn't know how to develop photos in a darkroom. And where are they now? Old, retired and unemployed. Couldn't keep up with the times. Meanwhile the digital photographers are making livings from shooting digital pics. Same with sign makers. They used to draw the letters, but now it's done in seconds with Photoshop. But because they refused to work with the digital technology, their sign shops are out of business. Is this happening with you, too ? Or has it already happened, hence your bitterness towards Disney, the same company that paid you paycheques for years but saw you were becoming obsolete, so decided to move on elsewhere?

Pete Emslie said...

Showing your true colours now, ain't ya'?

protryar said...

lol. maybe. just saying that as an instructor you need to lay off the negative comments and make them more pro-active, the same way you would with student's work. You wouldn't want your own students to see that you make comments like this about someone else's work. It's just not the right thing to do as a teacher. You already knew that though.

Jason Tammem├Ągi said...

Protryar, is the suggestion that Mr.E couldn't keep up as the craft degraded?

As people are so fond of saying, tools are just tools. If those sign makers refused to just open up Photoshop and type up a word in Comic Sans, they'd be doing the right thing. Because there are generations of craft there to call upon. Accepting new tools is great. Accepting poor quality and not learning from years of experience isn't so great.

Does that have anything to do with those tools? If like opening up Photoshop and clicking on Comic Sans, those using the tools are going for ease over results then, yes, maybe it does.

I've never met Mr.E and know nothing about him beyond this blog but, tools or no tools, I've seen few people in this business with the drawing skills and understanding he has. He's more than earned his opinion and, as an instructor, it's his job to try to pass on those skills and that understanding.

And a big part of that is separating the good from the bad because, as seen here, it doesn't seem to always be that obvious.

protryar said...

Art is subjective and is broken into 3 groups: the first group of people love something, the second group of people think it's not very good, and the last group don't notice it and don't care. Something that 'sucks' to you might be of great interest and love to someone else. I'm just saying that everyone has the right to their opinion, but as an instructor who mentors students, these comments are supposed to be kept private and not in a public forum. What if you saw the teacher of your 5-year old posting messages on a public forum about how kids are useless, can't learn and are just plain out crap? You don't want the teacher of your child making these public comments is all I mean. The artists who did the Disney ad in question might very well be pleased with what they did and gave it their best shot. Why should someone come along and denounce it as garbage? That isn't fair. Artists need to work together, not judge eachother. Pete is a master at his style and no, there aren't many artists who can draw like him. Many of us envy his style and admire him. But it's a slap in the face to see a role model like Pete actually insult someone else's work like that. (what must he be saying about some of his own students' work then?) I'm sure he wasn't taking a shot at the artists themselves though, he was taking a shot at Disney as a whole, so it's only fair to say that. Pete is still the best at what he does, no question.

Thad said...

It's crap.

protryar said...

Pete just forgot that he's a mentor and that students and novices are reading his comments. Totally understandable.

Pete Emslie said...

I know that cartooning novices and some of my students read my blog. I also know that they have minds of their own and are quite capable of forming their own independent opinions on things. I frankly don't see any problem here.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Protryar: What is your problem ? Why should you even care what Pete thinks ?

anim8rguy said...

I do believe this spot was farmed out Pete. I worked on a spot for the "Mickey's Philharmagic" attraction at Calabash Animation in Chicago several years ago. I must say our finished piece turned out a bit better. Not to mention it was completely hand drawn with live action bgs. :) You are right on with your points too. Disney should be held to a higher standard.

Ke7in said...

protryar I'm a former student of Pete's and I gotta disagree with you big time. Pete doesn't teach 4 year olds who are incapable of distinguishing the context of his criticisms. He teaches adults who admire and crave his constructive criticisms because we're trying to improve! His comments and suggestions were never derogatory or negative (when in many cases they rightfully could have been). I actually wish the instructors were allowed a longer leash when it came to critiques, because theyre not doing it to be cruel or insulting, theyre doing it to help you improve your craft.

And right on Pete, it was pretty bad. Farming it out should not be an excuse. If you're putting something out there representing such an iconic character, your company should do it themselves and do it right.

Brandon Lyon said...

Hmm, very odd discussion. I'd expect any of my instructors to offer their highest expertise, as well as being brutally honest when it comes to subpar work. If you expect your instructor to allow you to just "do what you do", you'll learn bad habits, or possibly nothing at all, in which case, why even go to school?

Martin Juneau said...

I agree with a lot of peoples here. The animation of this commercial is mediocre and terrible and those humans characters made it more terrible than a handful of Goofy's clones like in the original shorts. No. I don't like it and thanks for share your honnest opinion towards that Ad.

And portyar, english is my second language but i use that language very well but as someone who comment Pete, i don't understand the hell you trying to talking about with your blabbing.