Monday, 14 February 2011

Critical Debates In Design: Task 3: Animated Digital Media Design

As we all observed by watching the OneDotZero DVD in the classroom, animation has been rapidly assimilated by the worldwide culture, so much that is remarkable to think what has been made possible by the revolution in digital filmmaking. Since Mickey Mouse, the last decade witnessed the incredible change in the way moving image can be created. This endless process is producing a remarkable variety of visual exploration, notably within the areas of animation, motion graphics and digital effects. In this manner, modern digital design community could never be described as traditional filmmakers. Predominantly, their work has moved from the page onto the screen, in other words they print visual expressions to video. Those new opportunities around digital media allows creators to move between different creative disciplines. They approach the medium from different standpoints, from the areas of architecture, animation, computer game design, new media, fine art and club visuals, but mainly graphic design.

Besides the creative aspects, animation is also an ideal medium for 21-st century communications with its infinite opportunities. The infant audience having now been recognized as a potential consuming force, therefore animation has become a mega industry that feeds thousands of design and creative professionals around the world. Since the early steps of this billion dollar industry, Disney has dominated the animation world like no other. The outstanding success of the drawings which handcrafted every movement was quickly copied by Warner Bros and MGM. From the 1950s onwards, the market grew exponentially with the spread of television. From the US came Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Scooby-doo and The Smurfs, from Japan Astro Boy, Space Battleship Yamato and Captain Harlock. Those iconic cartoons had different storylines, different aesthetics, but the same basic appeal. Little by little, television cartoons push a side the cinematic versions. However in 1988, the big screen hit back with Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Blending animated, ink and paint cartoon characters and live actors with superb technical skills, that is to say, the film was a milestone in the animation history.

Approaching the end of the 20th century, music videos experimented with the use of animated visuals and computer graphics, introducing singers, musicians and viewers  in a whole new world. At the same time the Japanese animation entered the movie theaters in America with such hits like Akira (1988), Castle In the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke (1999) by the critically and commercially acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. After this evolution, it became clear that animation was in the throes of a major revival. Accordingly, heavyweight Hollywood studios make their way to the industry that Disney had been ruled for many years. One of the most successful example was the Dreamwork's Shrek (2001), which had a huge impact at the box office, followed by the 2Oth Century Fox's Ice Age (2002). However the movie changed the fundamental perception of the animation world was the wholly CG-generated Final Fantasy (2001) released by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Even the huge box office hits such as The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter would have been nothing without the touch of the backroom artists. All in all, at today's modern world digital media entered in our realm and there is no way back, so here is the list of the animation studios which marked an era with their polished graphics and innovative work.

1. Psyop Animation Studios

"Happiness Factory" is a documentary created for Coca Cola by Psyop.
The New York based Psyop is a multimedia design firm - founded in 2000 - creates print, animation and branding campaigns. Psyop's slogan is "persuade-change-influence" and this young motion-design boutique's edgy and distinctive style allows them to work with world's most well-known corporate companies such as Volkswagen, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Sony. What makes them so special is they approach all the digital films like business cards and identify the visualization to the concept of the client. Within the digital realm, they have a variety of different approaches, some being really clean vector-based graphic looks like their speed motion campaign for AT&T, others having that sort of textural quality which anyone can observe among their different clients. Consequently, they are a perfect example for offbeat sense of humor and individuality. 

2. Groovisions 

"Cuber Wired", Screen saver for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd 2005.

Tokyo based animation group Groovisions's graphic design is inspired by the primary-colored pop culture which shows itself almost all of their projects. This team is a pioneer for crossover media works with their broad field such as music, publishing, product, interior, fashion and web design, but focusing primarily on graphic and video production. They have formed their studio in 1993 in Kyoto. The group became famous by producing films and graphics for the Japanese pop bands Pizzicato Five, and Fantastic Plastic Machine. But they are best known for their ubiquitous and asexual character Chappie. Adorning everything from stationary to clothing and interactive projects, Chappie has become a cult phenomenon and merchandising success. Besides their animation projects they also have their signature under art direction and editorial design for magazines such as Metro Min., directing window displays for Maison Hermes, art direction for the "Do More With Less 40 Years of The North Face" exhibition. All in all, Groovisions is a the child of multidisciplinary approach indispensable part of modern artistic animation world.

3. Zeitguised

MTV Sweetheart Pop-Art by Zeitguised.
Since 2001, Henrik Mauler and Jamie Raap assemble motion graphics that pristine infographic meditations and architectural motion explorations. Their general approach to the filmmaking and motions graphics can be described as "pop feeling which is outside the commercial realm". Since Jamie Raap comes from an artistic background, graduating as a sculptor, the audience can easily observe the tectonic, geometric and surrealist appearance of their perspective. This unique studio, have worked with corporate clients like MTV, Toyota and Vodafone so far.

4. StyleWar

The ad that has been done for Nissan is showing how agile and smooth this car is in urban traffic.
StyleWar is a Stockholm based director's collective focused on making commercials and music videos in new innovative ways and now has branch offices all around the world. They have started up 1998 with graphic design based projects and begun including live action material in music videos. They have completed highly original music videos for The Hives, Franz Ferdinand and The John Spencer Blues Explosion besides and impressive body motion and print graphic work.

5. Champion Graphics - Geoff McFetridge

An animation for the New York Times, "A Year In Idea's".
Goeff McFetridge develops animations from a languid lo-fi skate-style tradition. His work has become progressively less about subcultures and more about intimacy. With the inherent simplicity of its direction and animation style, it speaks volumes compared to frenetic eclecticism of many of McFetridge's contemporaries. This amazing artist combines working out of his graphic design studio, Champion Graphics, with directing work for well-known Directors Bureau.

Consequently, animation is an indispensable part of modern artistic platform and in an interference with most of the design disciplines. Therefore the great demand for animation seems to have no end, It has already been accepted as a legitimate art form and there are now museums dedicated to what was once regarded purely as superficial entertainment for children. In a very close future, all the design and art departments will interfere even more into one main field - marketing and commercialism, furthermore anyone with some drawing skills will announce themselves animators. All in all, it is up to us - educated designers - to explore today's user-friendly software systems and - justifiably - became a part of this multidisciplinary design realm.    
Cranfield, B., 2003, Flips Book Seven: Animation, Hong Kong: System Design Ltd.
Selby, A., 2009, Animation In Process, UK: Laurence King Publishing
Walter, S., Hanson, M., 2004, Motion Blur: OneDotZero: Graphic Moving Imagemakers, UK: Laurence King Publishing
OneDotZero Select DVD 1, 2003, Adventures In Moving Image, UK
OneDotZero Select DVD 3, 2004, Adventures In Moving Image, UK
OneDotZero Select DVD 5, 2007, Adventures In Moving Image, UK
Web Pages
Groovisions: Official Web Page,, Sub Page, Profile,
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Psyop Animation Studios: Official Web Page,, Sub Page, Operations,
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StyleWar: Official Web Page,, Sub Page, About StyleWar,
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Champion Graphics, Official Web Page,, Sub Page, Goeff McFetridge,
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Wikipedia: Research Engine,, Sub Page, Animation,
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OneDotZero, Official Web Page,, Sub Page, Watch,
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Zeitguised: Official Web Page,, Sub Page, About Zeitguised,
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