#1 12-21-2012 2:30 pm

maxwood
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Animation Dissertation

Hey everyone,

I'm writing my dissertation on comedy in animation and techniques used to create comedy. I'm struggling to find academic articles on animation at all, I've come across a few and I was wondering if anyone has ever wrote a dissertation on animation?

What resources did you use? Did you find it difficult to find academic references?

Just curious what other peoples experience have been with this.


Thanks,

Max

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#2 12-21-2012 4:10 pm

PowerStride3D
Registered: 07-09-2012
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Re: Animation Dissertation

There are a couple of books you might want to look into, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's Illusion Of Life and Richard William's Animator's Survival Kit. You may also want to visit this link
http://www.animationmentor.com/resources/ebooks/ don't know if it'll be helpful to you. And you may also want to look at John Lasseter's introduction of animation principles to computer animation. Good Luck and all the best.


The Graph Editor is your best friend when animating and polishing work.

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#3 12-21-2012 4:22 pm

robcat2075
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Re: Animation Dissertation

My suggestion would be to NOT rely on academic articles as the academics tend to be not-involved themselves in the production of animation. 

I would suggest looking for interviews with and books by actual artists where they address issues you are interested in.

Michael Barrier is not an animator but has been interviewing important animation figures since long before it was "cool", often getting the only significant interview some Golden-Age individuals ever gave (before they died in obscurity).

His bio of Walt Disney is probably the most carefully researched one and all of his writing is aimed at separating legend from fact.

http://www.michaelbarrier.com/


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#4 12-21-2012 9:48 pm

Stina
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Re: Animation Dissertation

I wrote my dissertation half a year ago, and ended up not using any academic articles at all. As some other people mentioned, a couple of good books written by decent authors will take you a long way. Since you're writing about comedy you might want to look into some stageplay or writing books, comedy has been around since waaay before animation.


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#5 12-22-2012 12:43 am

dgovil
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Re: Animation Dissertation

read ed hooks acting for animators. it has great breakdowns of why scenes work the way they do, as well as what makes something genuinly funny vs slapstick


Dhruv Govil

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#6 12-27-2012 3:01 pm

maxwood
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From: Manchester
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Re: Animation Dissertation

Hey guys,

Thanks for the replies, hope you all had a good Christmas.

I actually bought The Illusion of LIfe and Acting for Animators the other day so I will be reading those! I already own the Animators Survival Kit smile

@PowerStride3D - Thanks for the links to the animation mentor eBooks, I will check those out soon! I've got a copy of John Lasseters paper, It was one of the very few I could find.

@robcat - I'd be happy not to but my supervisor is insisting that I try to find some, there are a few on animation but unsurprisingly none I can find on comedy in animation. Oddly enough I hadn't heard of Michael Barrier until about 20 minutes ago until I watched his commentary on a Road Runner cartoon. I never knew he was an animation historian, thanks for the link!

@Stina Thank you. I shall, if you have any recommendations for stageplay and comedy writing books I'd be happy to hear them.

@dgovil I just got this the other day and have started to read it, so far seems very informative and easy to read


Thanks again everyone.


Max

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#7 12-27-2012 5:01 pm

robcat2075
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Re: Animation Dissertation

Question I'd pose to the professor.... why are secondary sources (academic papers by non-filmmakers) more valued than primary sources (books by and interviews of actual filmmakers).  I'd want him to give a great answer to that. big_smile

However....

Chaplin is was the major influence on early animation acting.  Papers on him might be considered.

Also, consider that maybe the biggest influence on the "comedy" were the writers and story artists rather than the animators.

Michael Maltese at Warner
Heck Allen at MGM
various at Disney (consider Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's "Too Funny For Words" a book devoted to Disney sight gags)

If you are analyzing "comedy" they are key figures.

Leonard Maltin's "Of Mice and Magic" is THE essential historian's history of the Golden age.

Shamus Culhane's "Talking Mice and Other People" is the best first-person account of that era.

But I doubt you will find much that talks about cartoon comedy as a separate form.  Animation is just another way to make a movie and it pretty much has to use the same language of cinema as everything else if it is to be understood by the audience.

Last edited by robcat2075 (12-27-2012 5:03 pm)


"3D animators have pencil envy" - Robert Holmén
The world's most beloved Heavy Push
This is only a... my gallery of CG tests
I'm a 2D Wannabe...  drawings and 2D animation tests

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#8 12-30-2012 6:30 am

rdchan
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Re: Animation Dissertation

Yeah I would think the techniques used to create comedy in animation is the same in anything else in general.  Animation is just a medium and I don't think there's anything special that animation does to deliver comedy than say, a live action comedy.  Comedy is just used a lot in american animation because, well, it's been pinholed here that animation has to cater to children.  Animation is often tagged as a genre (e.g.: Best Animated Movie award).. but it's not.. it's a medium.  Comedy would be the genre of most animated films.

So, I would just look up comedy in general (stand up, tv, films), and maybe ask why it's the preferred genre in mainstream animated movies * psst... the answer is $$ wink


I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse. - Walt Disney

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#9 01-01-2013 5:58 pm

MMARZT
From: Austria
Registered: 01-01-2013
Posts: 52

Re: Animation Dissertation

I've got a book from our library lying here: "Understanding animation" by Paul Wells (1998)

It has its own chapter called: "25 ways of laughing" (around 50 pages with promising sub-chapters like "The visual pun" or "Literal, visual and verbal gags"). I found a google-book-Preview for you here: http://books.google.at/books?hl=de& … mp;f=false

Haven't read it myself yet, but it sounds quite sophisticated. It's really hard to find good animation books that also try to be scientific.

Last edited by MMARZT (01-01-2013 6:09 pm)

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#10 01-01-2013 10:40 pm

maxwood
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Re: Animation Dissertation

@robcat Thanks for the heads up about "Of Mice and Magic" that sounds helpful smile do you know how this would compare to do "Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age"? I also stumbled across Too Funny For Words and I'm considering picking that up as well. Thanks for your continued help with all of this! You're right though, there's very little about cartoon comedy on its own. I'm reading Acting for Animators at the moment and it's making me want to write something inspired by that book instead!

@rdchan Yeah, I'm finding that myself, similarly what I said to robcat above. Best go and find myself a comedy forum to search for reference haha.

@MMARZT Thanks for this! I bought this book the other day, I've had a flick through it and it seems very dry and difficult to read. Just makes you realise how incredibly well written books like Acting for Animators + The Animators Survival Kit are. I'll be working my way through it anyway though smile

Thanks again for the help guys.


Edit: Forgot to mention I think I'm going to pick up "Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age" by Michael Barrier. Anyone also read this and recommend it? On further investigation apparently this covers similar ground to "Of Mice and Magic" and is supposedly not quite as good. I'll get my hands on Of Mice and Magic first smile

Last edited by maxwood (01-01-2013 10:54 pm)

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#11 01-01-2013 11:22 pm

robcat2075
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Re: Animation Dissertation

I haven't read Michael Barrier's book but something by him is certain to be well-researched although perhaps not as much an object of popular reading as a Leonard Maltin book would be.

They are both historians, however, not so much analysts.

Comedians rarely talk about how comedy is made.  The comedy itself is their product, the how-to is usually not funny itself and makes a poor product.


"3D animators have pencil envy" - Robert Holmén
The world's most beloved Heavy Push
This is only a... my gallery of CG tests
I'm a 2D Wannabe...  drawings and 2D animation tests

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#12 01-02-2013 7:44 pm

MMARZT
From: Austria
Registered: 01-01-2013
Posts: 52

Re: Animation Dissertation

Read it now. Actually I think "Understanding Animation" is indeed tougher to read, but I also think books like "Acting for Animators" feel more like a "How to..." than a scientific paper. (Although I had no problems in understanding Paul Wells' points, even though English is not my primary language.)

Actually it's just two ways to write something. Ed Hooks directed his work at animators who want to enhance their practical skills. It reads more like an interview, with a lot of chit-chat in between and lots of theoretical points, but they are hardly backed up, which makes it very subjective.

Paul Wells wrote his works for a theoretical analysis, a scientific point of view. It may be dry and not as funny to read for someone who just wants to animate, but I personally feel more safe when I use scientific books to write scientific papers. Books who state points in an objective way, backed up by a lot of quotes which are openly cited throughout the book. I will still quote Ed Hooks and so on, since they are all oftenly quoted throughout the industry, but its easier to research with more dry work, as you can use their research work to find new ressources and it's more objective.

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#13 01-07-2013 5:07 pm

maxwood
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From: Manchester
Registered: 03-21-2010
Posts: 35
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Re: Animation Dissertation

I ended up buying "Of Mice and Magic" based on its good reputation.

@MMARZT I knuckled down last night and started reading the "25 Ways to Start Laughing" section of the book and was surprised that it was much more interesting and useful than I'd expected, it's definitely an academic book which is really useful to me. It could end up being the book I use most!

You hit the nail on the head with saying that Paul Wells' book is more analysis and Ed Hooks is more friendly, but fewer references. My one issue with the Understanding Animation book is that he spelt Ollie JohnsTon's name wrong for every single reference by missing out the "T". A little worrying as I'd have thought that would have been picked up on if any other animators had read it before publishing..


I've also come across another book called "7 Minutes: The Life and Death of the American animated cartoon" by Norman Klein which has a section called "The Gag" - haven't had chance to read it yet but I'll let you guys know if it's any good.

Also stumbled across another book called "Funny Pictures - Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood" haven't read that either yet.

Looks like I've got a lot of reading to do, haha.

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