Art in Motion

In its simplest definition, animation is the process of making something static look like it is moving. Throughout its hundred-or-so-year history, animation has been an art form deeply rooted in the practices of drawing and sculpture; until recently, the illusion of motion was achieved by creating countless drawings, paintings, or clay sculptures that differ slightly and then filming them in sequential order at a rate of up to 24 frames per second.

In the early days of animation, master artists like Walt Disney and a talented team of illustrators created feature-length films by rendering each frame by hand. A few of Disney’s classic illustrations are part of the DMA’s permanent collection of American art. Even as recently as the last ten years, hand-drawn characters have factored into Disney’s animation process, and the company has always offered free life drawing classes to their artists to help them achieve the most realistic sense possible of how the human body looks and moves.

Walt Disney, Sneezey, date unknown, color celluloid drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, 1938.23, © Walt Disney Productions

In 1995 the art and business of film animation experienced a sea change with the release of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, the first completely computer-generated animated film. Since Toy Story, computer animation has been the norm and technology has advanced at an exponential rate, with each new film demonstrating leaps in CGI capabilities. Animated films have become a multibillion-dollar industry that commands more Academy Award nominations than ever before.

Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, date unknown, photograph of color celluloid drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Walt Disney, 1948.7, © Walt Disney Productions

Now, 22 years after Toy Story, where does film animation stand as an art form and an industry? How does North Texas fit in? On Thursday night, KERA’s Jerome Weeks will speak with a few leaders in the North Texas animation scene: Bryan Engram of Brazen Animation, Brandon Oldenburg of Flight School Studio, and Midori Kitagawa from UT Dallas. Join us for State of the Arts and take a fascinating look into an art form that is at once looking back and ever-evolving.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.


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