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Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Year of Animation

Happy New Year, everyone. I have been busy, as have we all, but do plan to post a bit more regularly on this blog, if anyone is still reading.
Facebook is more useful for short updates and connections with friends. (Yes, 'real' ones post there too.)
It's been a banner year for animation. In addition to the now-to-be expected annual CGI releases there were stop motion puppet films (CORALINE, FANTASTIC MR. FOX), hand drawn films (THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, THE SECRET OF KELLS) and clay animation (MARY AND MAX). Most encouragingly there were several small studios and independents producing films that go head to head with the big studios for awards and audiences. Bill Plympton had IDIOTS AND ANGELS playing theatrically (I think it's his best film). Nina Paley's SITA SINGS THE BLUES had an amazing breakout --Paley distributed the film herself --for free--with notable success and in December the film received a favorable New York Times review. Now, you have to understand that this is a Big Deal if you are in New have officially Made It if it's in the Times.
The Internet is becoming more and more important as a distribution aid; you can download the entire feature SITA SINGS THE BLUES here, and Paley's blog describes how she managed to turn a drawback (copyrighted music on the soundtrack prevented her from officially 'selling the film') into an advantage. Animation plays better on the Web than live action, at least for now; and the animators, I predict, will be self-distributing more features in future. It really is possible now to make a feature film in a small room by yourself (I predicted this sometime in the last century, but Nina Paley and Bill Plympton and a few others have actually done it. There will be more, never fear.)
Simon Tofield's SIMON'S CAT was HUGE on the Web; he now has books, I-phone animation, and hilarious and simple animated stories that are eagerly awaited by millions of viewers.
So whatever else 2009 was, I would call it the YEAR OF ANIMATION.

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