The first Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) full-length animated film was Pixar’s Toy Story, released by Walt Disney Pictures in 1995. Pixar had earlier produced short animated successful films like ‘Tin Toy’ (1988) for promotion of their own high-end computers. Despite being the first of its kind, catalysts for the animation’s success included scripts being re-written many times to suit both children and adult audiences, direction by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, Joss Whedon, music by Randy Newman and Executive producers being Steve Jobs and Edwin Catmull. Of course voice over’s of lead figures like ‘Woody’ the pull string Cowboy doll by Tom Hanks and the astronaut action ‘Buzz Lightyear’ by Tim Allen catapulted the film’s success, grossing $361 million on its weekend opening.
Various animated films made great hits with advancing technology. Have a look at the top three animated Films of 2013 and some reasons for their critical acclaim.
The film ‘Frozen’ broke even Toy Story 2’s 14 year record and stood at No.1 by both IMdb and Rotten Tomatoes and crossing the $500 million mark. The animators visited the Ice Hotel in Quebec, and the winters of Wyoming and Norway to give the animation a realistic and believable backdrop. They studied exactly how ice refracts and reflects in snow. Add to this the Fjords, a Stave church, Trolls, Viking ships, elements drawn from Norway’s Sámi culture with Reindeer attached gives surrealism a very new realistic tone. A live reindeer also brought into the studio for animators, to learn its animation characteristics through study of its movements. It was finally filmed in Cinemascope. Inspiration by Jack Cardiff’s work on the Black Narcissus was the source behind giving the film its hyper-realistic character says the film’s Art Director Michael Giaimo. This, furthered by the humorous and whacky personality of Olaf, animated by Hyrum Osmond and the background score having Norwegian elements gave the film a sense of absolute totality. Thus, it is not just a great storyboard, or well-known voice-overs, but humongous research and attention to detail that affirmed Frozen’s success.
The second big animation grosser was ‘Despicable Me 2’ a spinoff on the original 2010 release, produced by Illumination Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures. Targeted mainly at people just after passing through the school period, with updated humor- Newsday gave it two and a half out of four stars saying "Better, or at least sweeter, than the first, with Wiig adding some much-needed romantic charm to the toddler-level humor”. Meanwhile, The Washington Post gave it 3 out 4 stars saying "The animation is beguiling, particularly when Lucy drives her car into the ocean, transforming it into a submarine that scoots around sharks and fish.”
Despite its lack of a good storyline (“no cohesive and zero dramatic tension”) as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle, they still gave it 3 out of 4 stars just because its funny. Proving humor itself is a great selling factor, but only if it is effectively cohesive with the visual impact (great 3D animation as reviewed by the Washington Post).
Up at No 3 was ‘Walking with the Dinosaurs’ which the Sydney Morning Herald claims had “Stunning scenery and effects are undermined by a cloying story.” The storyline - yes you guessed it, is about a dinosaur family who find there is much more to life, outside their ‘protective’ cave. True, views on dinosaurs on a grand 3D scale has its value in entertainment but what its promoters like BBC Earth, along with Reliance Industries and Animal Logic , the Australian special effects providers were trying to say defies most logic as the film is even not labeled as ‘educative.’ Perhaps spectacular visual thrills on their own were the basic reason for the film’s production.
The team at Broadcast2World believes that as demonstrated above, enormous research, extraordinary scripting, great animation and directed humor are the core ingredients of a great animation video. What do you believe are the building blocks of a good animation video? Do let us know your thoughts through the comments section below.
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