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: December 2008, 17

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

04:19:58 pm , 558 words, 2530 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Animator

Way Home

Erick Oh's Way Home wasn't viewable on the net back when I wrote about a Beijing screening of Asianimation a few months back. It is now. I just noticed that it was uploaded to Aniboom two weeks ago. Watching it again today confirmed that I quite like Erick Oh's sensibility as a director, in addition to his obvious skills as an animator and designer. The designs are subtle but interesting and always communicate their personalities via the animation, and the simplicity of the story belies the film's richness. Each shot communicates through the nuanced acting animation and pared-down design scheme. Even though what's going on is mostly just the character rolling his ball, it's always interesting and fun to watch, because the character feels alive, and you share the character's emotional journey. Each shot is beautiful in itself, and the film overall has a unified, elegant, tasteful visual scheme. The compositions are painted with a few lines and a minimalistic color palette that is visually pleasing and efficiently sets off the movement of the characters. The music comes in at just the right moment, and brings just the right tone to the journey. The ending doesn't overemphasize or overplay, which shows good judgment. Most of all, the film has its own unique sensibility that feels honed and complete. I just feel good watching this film. I hope to see more from Erick Oh.

(EDIT: I'd just like to add that you can purchase the film on DVD directly from Erick via his web site.)

While I was there, I sampled a few of the top ranked films, but though some are technically accomplished and entertaining, I came away with the usual feeling of emptiness. None of them were affecting and genuinely interesting at every moment the way Way Home was. In the urge to cram in detail, more important priorities seem to get lost in the process. More than that, though, they didn't seem to exploit the possibilities of the medium of CGI, instead turning off their brains and opting as if by default for the same old hackneyed path of clumsy cartoon vaudeville, which I find somewhat maddening considering how much possibility the medium offers. In that sense, Christoph Grosse Hovest's Die.Art struck me as one of the only CGI films on there that seemed to use CGI in an original, effective and compelling way. Without any tangible narrative or characters in the conventional sense, we're instead thrust into a world of rusting industrial hulks on which alien creatures perch, flagellate, undulate, float and otherwise go about their daily lives. The creatures are lifelike, but very mechanical at the same time, as if they had evolved from their environment many millennia after humans had disappeared from the planet, leaving behind the rusting debris of civilization. First and foremost, it's a beautiful audiovisual piece, the CGI visuals dazzling and inventive, and the directing combined with the music to create a pleasant but provocative viewing experience that tickles the mind like an optical illusion. It's an extremely sophisticated piece with great technical skill in every aspect (I'm still not sure whether the backgrounds are real or CGI) but it's also very appealing visually and intellectually and shows us something that we've never seen before, and thus in my mind work great as a piece of audiovisual art/animation.