[-empyre-] Christopher Sullivan thoughts

christopher sullivan csulli at saic.edu
Mon Feb 22 04:26:17 EST 2010

Hello Melanie, thank you for your thoughts. yes animation is a test for the
strength of an idea, it is a long term relationship in many ways. One thing
that I suggest with my students is that they have to be willing to make big
changes, and to consider initial premises about their project as their work
draws to a close.  completely rewriting a voice over, and casting a different
voice, dropping that final scene they were excited about, for  new one that
makes sense in terms of what the film has become over time. The choices and
changes that the work seems to be creating organically, what the film is asking
for. For CGI students I often suggests that instead of starting with new models
and sets, make a better film with the elements they have created. 
       I agree with everything you say, but I still recommend that animators
find other avenues for there thoughts. even finishing an ambitious and unduable
animatic, for a few weeks can be liberating, and say, that is the finished
product. also drawings based on your animations, that can stand alone. 


Quoting "Melanie Beisswenger (Asst Prof)" <Melanie at ntu.edu.sg>:

> Hi Chris,
> You brought up a very interesting question, if ‘animation is really a good
> tool to teach artists how to think.’ I do quite agree with you that the
> tediousness and slow moving process is a handicap in the learning process.
> Other art forms are more immediate and provide a faster turnaround with
> quicker feedback. Even more so when we enter the digital realm, particularly
> with 3D animation, as the animation process becomes a bit abstract and harder
> to grasp, control and master. Yet these are attributes largely affecting the
> ‘craft aspect’ (I know many people in academia just hate the word craft, yet
> it just comes with the business of doing art). On the other hand the long
> development and production cycles for animation force the students to rethink
> and reiterate their work. The thought process itself, I find, gets drawn out
> and questioned by students (including myself) over and over again while
> creating, even while still putting the finishing touches on a work. What
> animation thus requires from the students – and teaches them - is a well
> thought out concept that survives throughout the amount of time required to
> complete a piece of work, an idea which motives through hours of slaving
> away. Surely, this is not a way to learn thinking for everyone, but still
> effective.
> To link this up with another thread on the notion of ‘space’ in animation, I
> think the ‘everything is possible idea’ in animation requires the creator /
> students to think even further. As an animator you are challenged with making
> your abstract ideas and concepts, often expressed with the help of strange
> new creatures and environments, understandable to your audience: To what
> extent do you explore and push new, fantastic, abstract, visually different
> concepts, spaces and characters? What are the rules of your universe and when
> do you break the willing suspension of disbelieve. And - most importantly -
> what is the essence of your idea and is it communicated understandably to the
> audience?
> On a practical note, animation reaches over such a wide range of fields in
> its creation process, from storytelling through film making, to art creation
> and communication; it’s a pretty complex process, so nothing better to
> challenge oneself :-)
> Cheers
> Melanie
> ________________________________________
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of christopher sullivan
> [csulli at saic.edu]
> Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:40 AM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: [-empyre-] Christopher Sullivan thoughts
> Hi everyone, as the week draws to the end, It has been an interesting mix of
> thoughts and ideas. One thing that I wanted to talk about before things draw
> to
> a close is my hopes for animation, and my thoughts on a pedagogical side.
>              I feel that the independent animated feature is going to
> increase
> exponentially in years to come (just hope I get my film to screen before it
> is
> a infinite pool) I do hope that these new films will not be plagued with the
> remakes and adaptations that are now overtaking Hollywood. Besides Charley
> Kaufman, who is getting original scripts produced?  Even Wes Anderson’s
> (another script writer) Incredible Mr. Fox, is an adaptation, again Charley
> Kaufman prophetic, in the writing of Adaptation.
>              So the thing that we independent animators have to do is create
> works that really take advantage of the qualities of animation that set it
> apart from live action film, and particular for the west to catch up with
> some
> of the cinematic chances taken in the east “for instance, Paprika” or the
> highly disturbing Mindgame. Fringe feature anime is politically very
> conservative in particular with gender politics, and I am not even talking
> about being queer enough, I am referring to the heterosexually conservative,
> and completely fraternal in the sense of the internal mind; men imagining
> fantasies of women.   But these films are very sophisticated in regards to
> filmmaking. How they play with time, how they create and destroy characters,
> in
> constant sates of death and resurrection. So I hope that We as filmmakers
> can
> get the backing to create innovative films that challenge audiences not as
> people going to see animation, but going to see demanding cinema. See you in
> the trenches.
>          One other thought I wanted to bring up is whether you think that
> animation is really a good tool to teach artists how to think. I have
> debated
> this for years because of its very slow turn around, and the literal amount
> of
> idea stuff that a student can handle during their studies. Every successful
> student I have had, has had other outlets to plow through and discard ideas,
> be
> it photography, comics, performance, live action films, writing. I have
> never
> had an exclusive animator that I feel really used their time in school
> fully.
> I learned more about making art in my early twenties in school doing
> performance than doing animation, though my artistic identity as an
> animation
> artist via grants awards, employment, solidified at this time as well.  I am
> pondering these questions; Is animation a medium that condenses other
> artistic
> experiences into a less temporal vision, but not the best generative medium?
> Is
> it a good intellectual teaching medium? Of course this is about matters of
> degrees, as I do believe my students grow in my classes, but they do grow
> slowly.
> What are people’s thoughts?
> Christopher Sullivan
> Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
> School of the Art Institute of Chicago
> 112 so michigan
> Chicago Ill 60603
> csulli at saic.edu
> 312-345-3802
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> CONFIDENTIALITY: This email is intended solely for the person(s) named. The
> contents may be confidential and/or privileged. If you are not the intended
> recipient, please delete it, notify us, and do not copy or use it, nor
> disclose its contents. Thank you.
> Towards A Sustainable Earth: Print Only When Necessary
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Christopher Sullivan
Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
112 so michigan
Chicago Ill 60603
csulli at saic.edu

More information about the empyre mailing list