Locals in my hometown of Adelaide, South Australia will recognise that we’re in the early stages of an unusually wet winter. Since we’re placed in one of the less fortunate corners of this arid continent of ours, I never view rain as a curse and instead take great delight in seeing the foliage and watercourses flourish in times like these. In the past fortnight I’ve also taken pleasure in catching another symptom of the season, the awe-inspiring rainbow, on several occasions- recording them with whatever devices I had handy at the time. After proving popular on Twitter, I thought I’d break the Creativity Base blog-post format, and post this triptych of recent rainbows for your enjoyment. Of course, we have the divine science of refraction to thank for these gifts, and if you’d like to read some more on rainbows, Wikipedia provides a pretty good catch-all for the curious.
Shot on Emma Sterling’s cellphone, I tweaked the saturation to bring up the rainbow colour intensity in the above image.
You’ll notice in the above double rainbow, the colour band order is reversed in the outer, feinter rainbow.
This one was snapped through the windscreen on my cellphone while driving. At the rate cellphone cameras are improving, i won’t be bothering with a digital point n’ shoot by the last quarter of 2010… but that’s another blog post! Enjoy the rainbow season, everyone!
The animation production and consumption communities have been steadily conditioned to ultra-slick, glistening, epic-budget animation, produced by the likes of Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, Aardman and the other major studios over the past 25 years. It is important for animators as artists and craftsman in their formative years not to get hung up on emulating these ‘big box’ aesthetics. Afterall, the key to effective animation is mastering the illusion of movement, and that can be achieved without ever turning on a PC. There are countless opportunities to explore analog techniques and hybrid methods awaiting the curious animator. In fostering resourcefulness in animation (rather than resource dependency) and daring to create new styles or revive lost methods there is an exciting frontier ahead of us.
Studio animation has always been eager to hide the hands of the magician (read ‘animator’) with only a few exceptions. Animation legend Chuck Jones’ classic Warner Brothers cartoon from 1953 ‘Duck Amuck’ is a popular example of breaking the format’s conventions. In this rightly lauded short, Daffy Duck gets tangled up in a fierce argument with the animator as to where, what and why he exists. The page, the animators tools, and the true ‘God’ of the animated cartoon is revealed, with comical and extremely memorable results.
The British claymation series Morph produced back the 1970’s also combined the animator with his clay puppets in Morph’s world, without compromising on the performances of the claymation characters. Morph would often turn to his animator for advice when things weren’t working out for him, and the line between worlds of imagination and reality were beautifully blurred. In embracing the animator and his or her hands, a distinctive look and feel can be created, leading once again to much more memorable experience for the viewer.
The internet has afforded us the opportunity to share and enjoy a resurgence of alternative animation techniques, if not yet embraced by mainstream broadcasters, production houses and ‘old world’ markets’. I stumbled upon this video today, which shows a playful combination of physical and drawn animation technique. Have a think about which animated films and cartoons have stuck with you and why- if you’re anything like me it’ll be the animators who took risks and broke new ground that left a lasting impact.
I often remind myself that mankind’s seat of power on this planet is something of an illusion. At sea we are reminded that we are no longer at the top of the food chain by wonderful creatures like the Great White Shark, while on land, tectonic movements and geothermal explosions take that sense of humble perspective to a whole ‘nother level. I see events like the ongoing eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland as great calls for us to ponder how insignificant we really are, and remind us all that we are not as well insulated from disaster as we think.
Thanks to the fine people of the twittersphere, I’ve been privvy to two particularly stunning visualisations of the Eyjafjallajökull effect… both photographically in native Iceland, and in animation projected over the European continent. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did- and please take a minute to consider the Earth magnificent power, and just how impotent we are in the face of it.
This first video is a spectacular series of tracking time-lapse shots of the volcano’s ongoing venting, May 1-2 2010. The footage was shot on a Canon DSLR and looks terrific.
The animated visualization below shows flights operating around the first major ash cloud interruptions of April 18-20 2010. It really illustrates the way nature can bring our crazy civilizations to grinding halts with just one big subterranean sneeze!
Naturally, being a creative person, I made my own artistic response- a cheesy T-shirt making light of the situation. Always fond of a pun, ‘Volcanic Ash Got Me Down’ T-shirts and hats are available through our Zazzle store. What’s your take on the volcanic ash scenario, and how did it stir your creative thinking?