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Transcript of Animated Documentary
Understanding Documentary: Week 11
What is Animation?
Two different views
"A workable definition of animation
1)The Imagery is recorded frame-by-frame, and
2) the illusion of motion is created, rather than recorded"
(Solomon, in Furniss 1998)
Continuum of Moving Images
Sleep (Warhol, 1963)
Jurrassic Park (Spielberg, 1993)
Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964)
Snow white and the seven dwarfs (Hand, 1937)
Hen Hop (McLaren, 1942)
How is this relevant to the question at hand?
"The Point is that the relationship between live action and animation, represented by mimesis and abstraction, is a relative one. They are both tendencies within motion picture production, rather than completely separate practices"
(Furniss, 1998: 6)
"A simple and pragmatic definition of the term "Animated Documentary" could be 'a documentary in which an extensive part - at least Fifty Percent - is animated'. The question is, how does one clearly define what constitutes 'animation' or 'documentary'?"
(Strom, 2003: 49)
Modes of animated documentary
Paul Wells, like Bill Nichols, has attempted to describe how Animation is used in a documentary context by outlining a series of Modes
(Wells in Ward, 2005: 85-88)
"The imitative mode is that type of animated film that offers an imitation (or pastiche) of live action documentary tropes". (Ward, 2005: 85)
This mode attempts to use animation in a way that places it closer to Furniss' Mimetic
These are films which seek to connect the creative process of animation with subjective notions of thought and emotion (Ward, 2005: 86)
The Subjective Mode
The Imitative Mode
The Sinking of the Lusitainia (McKay, 1918)
Films which use animation to explore that which lies beneath "everyday reality" (Ward, 2005: 86)
Films which display a sense of "Militant Surrealism" (Ward, 2005: 87)
The Fantastic Mode
The Post-Modernist mode
These films use animation to question notions of objective truth
"Implies that documentary itself is a mode with no special claim to 'truth' or 'reality', but is rather 'merely "an image" and not an authentic representation (Wells 1997 in Ward, 2005:87)
Such an approach suggests that there is a distinct, categorical difference between these two representations
To what extent is it possible to talk about "animated Documentary"?
Any student writing about animated documentary should be prepared to offer their own definition, and support that definition with evidence.
For the purpose of this lecture, we will assume that animated films are films which
Exist on Furniss' continuum of moving images - but probably not at the most mimetic extreme
Contain a significant portion of material which is drawn, frame-by-frame, to create the illusion of movement (Solomon's definition)
Likewise, for the purpose of this lecture, we will assume that documentary films are films which conform broadly to Plantinga's definition of non-fiction film in which "the states of affairs represented are asserted to occur in the actual world as portrayed"
(Plantinga in Strom, 2003: 50)
Modes of Animated Documentary
It has been argued that
Animation is not categorically different to other moving representations of the world.
Animation is therefore a valid tool of documentary representation
Animation is used in both imitative and subjective (or post-modern, or fantastic) ways
Furniss, Maureen (1998) Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press
Strom, Gunar (2003) The Animated Documentary in Furniss, Maureen (Ed.) Animation Journal, Volume 11, 2003. Savannah, GA: AJ Press
Ward, Paul (2005) Documentary: The margins of reality. London: Wallflower Press
If we accept that there is no categorical difference between animation and live-action, it strengthenes the case for animation as a valid form of documentary expression
(adapted from Furniss, 1998: 6)
Batman: Year One (Miller, 2011)