Last week on Wednesday (1/29) we talked about how technology influenced the way impacts our visual experience. First we we watched Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J. Stuart Blackton. It was the first film sequence and it was originally a vaudeville act that was then transferred to the screen. It features chalk drawings and with the use of cut out animation is able to move.
Following that, we watched Alice’s Egg Plant. This was a cartoon created by Disney using a similar method as Humorous Phases of Funny Faces but the twist is that it features a live action little girl in the cartoon. This show how animation was able to evolve in a few years. Although this does not enhance the story in anyway and having an animated girl would have been just as sufficient, it is an interesting use of technology.
Following Alice’s Egg Plant, we watched Betty Boop’s May Party, which unlike Humorous Phases of Funny Faces and Alice’s Egg Plant has sound and was also one of the first animated sequences to use a rotoscope. The use of rotoscopes allowed for more life-like movement of the character. Also, the use of sound in animation further emphasizes the characteristics and the personality of the characters. The biggest proof of the influence of sound is how synonymous “Boop-oop-a-doop” is with Betty Boop.
After sound and color were added into animated films, Disney attempted to create a new experience for the audience with the use of Cinemascope. Traditionally, the screen was a square but with a cinemascope, the screen was a long and rectangular. The use of cinemascope was more to enhance the experience of the audience, rather than for having an impact on the characters of the story. With cinemascope, the screen covered the audience’s entire vision and had characters going from one end of the screen to the other. Disney even alludes to this new change at the very beginning when Professor Owl is running late to his class. He rushes out of his tree all the way to the left of the screen and as he his running he makes his way across to the right side; some people would have had to turn their head to keep Professor Owl in their vision.
In addition to cartoon animation, we also saw examples of replacement animation, where the filmmakers use different puppets in each frame to characterize every movement and in turn bring the puppets to life. The two examples of replacement animation that we saw were Tulips Shall Grow and Paranorman. The biggest difference between the two is that in Tulips Shall Grow the filmmakers replace the entire puppets in each since, however in Paranorman they are only replacing the face so that they are able to show more detailed and life-like facial expression.
In addition to animated shorts or films we also saw Television commercials and animated shorts the Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales and on Disney.com. This indicates how technology has created a separation in the audiences that view the films. The commercials were specifically targeted towards people. For example, the Spots for Jello commercials was directed strictly towards mothers and housewife, informing them of the ease of preparation and how much it would satisfy either her guests or children. Also the Nash Rambler commercial was talking to the man of the house and urging him to be financially smart while still providing enough room for his family and out maneuvering all the other cars on the road. Finally the two websites were directly targeting children to be entertaining and educational.