The value of my values may not be valuable at all.
I have often asked myself a question about the judgement of one projects value VS. that of another? While I think most of us can accept that this is truly subjective, it seems to me that there are three types criteria used when talking about animated projects.
The first (In no real order) being the technical or production value of the project. Does it move well is it coherent in its stylistic choices and does the film/ series maintain a homogenous standard throughout? This is of course subject to differences of opinion but generally a film makes a promise in its opening sequence and as an audience member you should be able to expect that promise of execution to be up held through to the final frame. However the contradiction here is that you can have a technically poor product that still succeeds commercially because it has story and characters that resonate with its chosen demographic — for example the Simpson’s original pilot was a far cry from what it has become today.
The second is financial value, I mean if your film costs X and once its made, screened and distributed the world over you make Y and the value of Y is greater than X then its a success right? It doesn’t matter what the technical quality or artistic value maybe if the Film has found an audience that are demanding to see it. This must mean it has real value no? As much as it may pain the purists out there, sometimes the more mainstream the project the less interesting it really is. The ultimate example of this is when it becomes all about the technical execution and no longer about the characters or story. When Pixar first started no one thought it was going to work because it seemed so technically poor next to the smooth flowing traditional animated films out there. You might even say that Pixar was born out of this narrow view — When Glen Keane tried a 3D test with John Lasseter it was met with less than an enthusiastic response and we all know how that ended up. I have attached an article from Cartoon brew that goes into further details this test.
Then thirdly, I would include critical value. When I say critical value, I mean the critical acclaim that comes with a Film or series that breaks free of standard expectations in a way that it attracts the attention of those outside it’s expected audience for the medium. The Incredibles, In Side Out, Persepolis, Father and Daughter, When the Day Breaks, The Red Turtle or Princess Mononoke are all films that received much critical acclaim and they all came with the tag line, that these are Films for everyone — not just kids. Lifting the medium of animation out of the sand pit and into the realm of Cinema and entertainment for more than just children. In the world of series the line is a little blurry but I guess Adventure Time, Gravity falls, The Simpson’s, Bobs Burgers and Family Guy are a few strong contenders. Even something like The amazing World of Gumball that has been able to appeal to multiple age groups at once is a great example.
Those that subscribe to one of these categories can often not understand, let alone accept the existence of the others. Yet the healthy coexistence of all three is the only way to imagine the growth of animation as an art form. Not to mention hold its footing in an ever changing industry.
The shear logistic headache and length of production time means that Animation needs all the help it can get to thrive and breed artists willing and technically able to open the boundaries of what we thought was possible. For these production based reasons, the art form has been enslaved into an industrialized process from birth. However with new technological developments and experienced artists actually embracing these new tools we are seeing more and more solo films being produced and real diversity of style and forms of expression. Would this have been possible without an industry built around monetary value, like commercials, TV series or even Feature Films? Would this have been possible without the likes of Michael Dudok De Wit, Caroline Leaf, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis or Bill Plymton? Would this have been possible without the large commercial success stories like Sponge Bob, The Lion King, Frozen or more recently Despicable me? The answer to all of these questions is of course no. It would not have been possible without all of these elements and they have constantly fed into one another. Its the high water created by artistic diversity and commercial investment that lifts us all higher.
So next time you see a project and say to your self, I cant stand that kind of animation! Take a breath and tell your self it’s a sign of a healthy eco system where we can all thrive and just get back to what YOU want to be doing. Who knows people might love it but you can be certain that some people won’t and thats ok too.
Originally published at www.uandeye-creative.com.