Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: January 2008, 21

Monday, January 21, 2008

03:50:07 pm , 337 words, 1514 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Music Video

Face Like a Frog

I suppose most other people have probably heard of Sally Cruikshank, an independent animator who created animation for a bunch of Sesame Street music videos during the 1980s, but I only discovered her work recently myself, and it threw me for a loop. I watched Sesame Street as a child, but only intermittently, so I don't ever recall having seen her work, and I'm sure I would remember if I had. Who could forget having seen a film like Face Like a Frog, an utterly insane and psychedelic, not to say psychotropic, fun-house ride of a short that's one of the best mind-trips I've seen in animation.

It's a visual orgy of non-stop transformation, with ideas zooming by at a mile a minute, hilariously matched to the great song. The colors are vivid and the forms wobbly and simple. I love the whole sensibility of the film, from the in-your-face colors to the technically limited but in this case tremendously effective animation. It's like the love-child of Masaaki Yuasa and Yasunori Miyazawa. The vivid and simple but brightly-colored designs plastered all over the screen are reminiscent of Yuasa's early Chibi Maruko-chan music videos, and the very wobbly and uncertain style of animation is similar in effect to the very deliberate and brutal distortions to be seen in Miyazawa's recent work.

You can see almost all of Cruikshank's films up on Youtube, where she herself has uploaded them, and if you like them enough, you can also go to her homepage and buy them on DVD. Her other films are quite fun and worth checking out, although none of them have quite the impact of the amazing Face Like a Frog - especially if it's the first piece by her that you see, as happened with me. There are some great independent animators who worked on NHK's Minna no Uta music video show, which in retrospect seems clearly to have been inspired by Sesame Street's example, but I've never seen anything quite this wild on the Japanese show.