CP 470a/MCMA 552 Understanding Animation: History, Theory & Technology

Welcome to CP 470A & MCMA 552 

Understanding Animation: History, Theory & Technology

Spring semester 2016 meeting on Mondays 14:50  ASA 118c

Instructor: Dr. Michele Leigh
email: drleigh@micheleleigh.net or mleigh@siu.edu
Office: 1121L, Communications Bldg.
Office hours: Dr. Leigh – M/W 10-12pm, T 1-3pm

Teaching Assistant: Soumik Pal, spal@siu.edu

Required Texts:

Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics by Maureen Furniss, John Libbey, 2007 isbn 9780861966639

Recommended Texts:
Understanding Animation by Paul Wells Routledge, 1998 isbn 978041511597
Animated Worlds by Suzanne Buchan, John Libbey 2006, isbn 0861966619

All other readings can be found on this page (just follow the links for each week)

Course Description:
This course will serve as an introduction to the history of animation, its practitioners and its major technological developments. Our studies will take us from pre-cinematic visual toys of the late nineteenth century to current digital animation technologies. Students will learn to pay attention to the aesthetics of the animated image and its relation to animation’s unique ability to communicate. Additionally, we will discuss some of the major theoretical constructs surrounding the study of animation. Finally, students will be encouraged to explore a variety of animation formats and techniques: puppet, claymation, cel animation, CGI, and so forth in order to provide them with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work involved in creating animation.

Course Goals:
Students in this course will:
* comprehend and discuss theoretical approaches to the art of animation
* be able to outline the basic history of animation styles and technologies
* analyze the significance of animated media and its impact on culture
* learn rudimentary animation techniques

Students are expected to attend class sessions, participate in class discussions, and complete all assignments and projects on time. Active participation means prior reading of assigned materials and sharing of relevant thoughts and experiences both in class and on-line in your blogs. Students are encouraged to bring to class examples of visual material from a variety of sources to further class discussions. Everyone must log on to our course website at Assignments are due as indicated on the course calendar. Late assignments will lose 10 points for each day they are late. ALL assignments MUST be turned in, regardless of how late they are. Failure to turn in an assignment will result in an F for the course.
All cell phones MUST be turned off prior to entering class. Texting and IMing during class are NOT permitted. Please be considerate of your fellow classmates.

Course Assignments and Grade Breakdown

Course Calendar:
Week 1    Jan 18    No Class     Martin Luther King Day
Read: Ch.1 “Introduction to Animation Studies” Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
Introduce yourself

Week 2     Jan 20     What is Animation?
Read:  “What is Animation?” Philip Denslow

Week 3     Feb 3     Theories of Animation and Animation Aesthetics
Read:  Ch. 10 “Institutional Regulators” Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Notes Towards a Theory of Animation” by Paul Wells
Due: Animation Assignment #1, Blog post Group A,  Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 4     Feb 8     In the Early Days
Read: “From Comic Strip and Blackboard to Screen” by Donald Crafton
“Some Critical Perspectives on Lotte Reiniger” By William Moritz
Due: Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts

Week 5     Feb 15     Narrative Strategies
Read: “Once upon a Time: Narrative Strategies”  by P. Wells
Narrative Strategies for Resistance and Protest in Eastern European Animation” by William Moritz
Due: Blog post Group A, Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 6     Feb 22     Experimental   – presentation by Nik Price
Read: Ch. 13 “Considering Form in Abstract Animation”Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Restoring the Aesthetics of Early Abstract Film” by William Moritz
Literary Len: Trade Tattoo and Len Lye’s Link with the Literary Avant Garde” by Miriam Harris
Due: Animation Assignment #2, Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts

Week 7      Feb 29     Issues of Representation
Read: Ch.9 “Issues of Representation” Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Other(ed) Latinidades: Animated Representations of (Latino) Ethnicity” by C. Richard King
Animated Fathers: Representations of Masculinity in the Simpsons and King of the Hill” by Suzanne Williams-Rautiola
Due: Animation Assignment #3, Blog post Group A, Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 8     Mar 7     The Disneyfication of Animation
Read: Ch.6 “Classical Era Disney Studio”Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Disney Films 1989-2005: The Eisner Era” by Amy Davis
From Snow to Ice” by Meagan Davis
Due: Midterm Exam, Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts

Week 9     Mar 14       SPRING BREAK

Week 10     Mar 21    Animating the Boob-Tube
Read: Ch.7 “Full and Limited Animation”Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Animatophilia, cultural production and corporate interests: The Case of Ren & Stimpy” by Mark Langer
Due: Blog post Group A, Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 11    Mar 28     Anime Changes the Face of Animation
Read: “Early Japanese Animation in the United States” by Brian Ruh
“Disney, Warner Bros. and Japanese Animation” by Luca Raffaelli
“Doll Parts: Technology and the Body in Ghost in the Shell” by Susan Napier
Due: Animation Assignment #4, Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts

Week 12    Apr 4     100 years of Puppet and Claymation – presentation by Jeremy Thurlby
Read: Ch.8 “Stop Motion Animation”Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“Clay Animation and the Early Days of Television: The ‘Gumby’ Series” by Michael Frierson
Due: Blog post Group A, Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 13     Apr 11     Animation for Adults –  animator Stacey Steers will be attending out class
Read: “The Cinema and the Spectator” by Paul Wells
“Representations of Race and Place in Static Shock, King of the Hill, and South Park”
by Michael Chaney
Due: Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts

Extra Credit – April 12th – Animator Stacey Steer presents her work in Guyon Auditorium

Week 14     Apr 18     The Computer Revolution and Pixar  – presentation by Mike Maxwell & Fiona Finnagan
Read: Ch.9 “Animation and Digital Media”Art in Motion by Maureen Furniss
“ What is Digital Cinema” by Lev Manovich
“ ‘Reality’ Effects in Computer Animation” by Lev Manovich
Due: Animation assignment #5, Blog post Group A, Group B comment on these blog posts

Week 15     Apr 25     Gaming – presentations by Charles Scott & Dennis Hinton
Read: “Inventing Space: Toward and on and off screen taxonomy in video games” by Mark Wolf
“Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender-Role Subversion in Computer
Adventure Games” by Anne-Marie Schleiner
Due: Blog post Group B, Group A comment on these blog posts


Week 16     May 2nd     The Future of Animation
Due: Class Presentations

Final Exam  – Final Projects DUE  and class presentations Friday  May 13th from 12:30-2:30 pm 

2 thoughts on “CP 470a/MCMA 552 Understanding Animation: History, Theory & Technology

  1. Kenneth Christensen

    I find it interesting that the advent of television is often viewed as being connected to the decline of the Hollywood studio system in the 1950’s. The fact that this event helped reintroduce clay in mass to the audiences shows that new trends can have unintended consequences, as well as revealing the fact that it may be impossible to accurately predict the future of which direction the television industry will go. I also find it interesting how Disney put “The Mickey Mouse Club,” just to break even. I think its marketing was genius though as it used this piece to promote its new theme park, Disneyland. This drastically revolutionized how children’s advertising on television, which in turn would bring a cultural revolution within the media industry as the titan known as Disney would rise. This would also give rise to Toys-R-Us as well as advertisements related to them, further expanding the kids television advertisement market. Because of this, the “Mattel Burp Gun” became a major success more than doubling it’s overall sales. The children’s market continued expanding rapidly during the 1950’s, as a result many new cartoons aired. However, many of the cartoons were played so repetitiously that it became very frustrating for the viewer. It became important that new cartoons replace the old so that television didn’t become stagnant. During this time many household icons like Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Dixie and Pixie rose to prominence, setting the stage for the trend that would continue until this day. One thing I didn’t realize is that these cartoons were aired on television first and not the theater.
    Art Clokey didn’t care much for the Hollywood violence in the cartoons. He created Gumby and his sidekick Pokey. Clokey invested many of his beliefs and philosophies into each episode, reuniting the artist with their work rather than having the corporate world run it. This also allowed him to show a completely different message than the typical theatrical film of the day, with Gumby being kind and fair to his fellow clay buddies as well as being content with what he has. Gumby is based on Christian values and reflects Clokey’s sheltered life, bringing Gumby more toward the traditional values of art. I find it very intriguing that he became an Episcopalian priest before attending film school as these two areas are definitely conflicts of interest under normal circumstances. Clokey seems to take it a bit farther though in that he believes that he will help solve the worlds problems. This is affirmed as Gumby is a representation of the nature of human lives in that he is kind and generous yet has some flaws such as being a bit annoying. It should also be mentioned that Clokey believes he has supernatural powers which stemmed from a visit to Sathya Sai Baba which may have resulted in the resurgence of Gumby, though this could be debated.

  2. Jeremy Thurlby

    In lieu of class discussion Charlie and myself took the opportunity to finish editing and uploading our animation final. We spent the afternoon in our studio space working and not attending the strike on campus.
    Jeremy and Charlie

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