Week 4 Discussion

Group B and Grad Students post thoughts on readings/film here.  All others are welcome to comment on posts.

26 thoughts on “Week 4 Discussion

  1. Joey Burrow

    While reading Animation: Art & Industry about Lotte Reininger, an early pioneer in animation, I found it interesting that Reininger was one of the earliest animators but she did not receive much credit for her work. Reininger did not do the standard pencil to paper style animation rather, she did animation by utilizing cutouts. Cutouts, according to Moritz, were thought of as an inferior form of animation. Because cut-outs were thought of as an inferior animation as opposed to Walt Disney’s pencil to paper style animation, Walt Disney is credited with having the first filmed animation.
    Further reading about Reininger’s films, I learned that she often infused her animated pieces with what Moritz calls “thought provoking ideas”. For example, she would put subtle hints of sexuality or Nazi Germany into her animations. She added these to her films because she knew children would be more likely to watch these movies, and since children are impressionable she could get her ideas into the minds of young children. I disagree with that way of thinking. Presently, many cartoons have adult themes, undertones or “thought provoking ideas.” Young children laugh, because it is a funny animation or because the adult audience is laughing, but many young children do not understand the “thought provoking ideas” portrayed.
    The second reading was an article by Crafton. I found this article to be a more interesting read. Crafton describes how comic strips were made into short films because of their endless variety of gags along with their short running time. Lightning sketches, where animators would stand in front of an audience and quickly sketch something out with minimal lines, succeeded comic shorts. Lightening sketches were then later incorporated with stop action trick photography, bringing the sketches to life in an animated film. The lightning sketches would transform a 2D drawing on the sketchbook into a 3D drawing that the sketcher could interact with. For example, the animator would draw a 2D bottle, and through this process, in the final film, the 2D bottle would be transformed into a real looking bottle, not a drawn bottle.

    1. Jon Booker

      In Regards to Reininger, The article does give her credit. It describes her as finely detailed being very precise and fast with scissors. I think one reason that she is not given credit my be due to exactly what you discussed. putting thought provoking ideas in films for young viewers is not always a good idea. I can see kids laughing if adults are laughing, but that does not mean that kids will understand what the adults are laughing about. Older children may get the ideas, but younger kids may go over their heads. Something that was mentioned in the reading was that cut outs and silhouettes were very popular the years before litho and photography she was making films and by the time she did, it was an artform associated with women and skills learned in home econamics. It is also considered less tedious than hand drawn animation. I think this has a lot to do with why she is overlooked and Disney is given the credit.

    2. Laura Tate

      I think that the point you bring up about what children are able to understand in animated movies is very interesting. The cartoons of many of our childhoods certainly banked on the idea that we wouldn’t really understand the more complex or raunchy jokes. I think it also became a sort of selling point for later animation, particular TV series, that there would be jokes the kids would understand as well as shout outs to the older people watching that would fly over younger viewer’s heads, giving the show wider appeal without becoming too inappropriate for the target audience. However, I do think that in Reiniger’s case, many of the messages were delivered in a way that children could understand because it was given in a simple yet effective way. In the anti-Nazi film, for example, the ogre is depicted as power hungry, eager to hurt others, and wanting to own everything. Children may not understand fully that the character is representing the Nazis, or maybe they would, but at the very least they would see how those traits are evil.

      And although this particular message was never included, I thought it was amazing that Reiniger wanted to include homosexuality as a natural thing because she knew that children wouldn’t be bothered by it if it wasn’t depicted as something tragic or unnatural, and she pointed out that some of the children watching would be gay themselves. I think the message that homosexuality is natural, even depicted as simply as a happy kiss between two men, would have had a profound effect on children’s ideas about homosexuality, if it had been included. It’s really unfortunate that it wasn’t.

    3. Daniel Vincent

      I don’t really agree with what you’re saying about adult cartoons. One of the reasons I remembering loving, for example, Shrek as a kid was because the jokes were notably more mature than the Disney movies of the time. The popularity of The Simpsons as a family show reveals that too. Pixar movies also have always been more popular with children simply because they are thought-provoking along with being funny. Moritz was ahead of her time by adding these elements to her films because nowadays, most animated features and shows have adult jokes to them.

      1. Ashley OBrien

        I agree with you on this. I always loved the cartoons and animations that had more mature jokes in them. I was and still am a huge fan of the Simpsons and I always thought it was more entertaining than some of the other children cartoons. Though I still love Pixar and believe that they don’t rely on humor but more so storyline and like you said they are more thought-provoking. I agree Moritz was ahead of her time.

    4. Kenneth Christensen

      This is a classic example of sexism that was very common during the early twentieth century. It is important to note that Reininger was creating her work during the early stages of the Woman’s Right’s Movement. Of course, as many know already, woman during this time did a lot of great things, but were not recognized for them due to societies so called fixed standards of the day. Not only were men favored by Disney and film industries, but in all other industries as well. Reininger is clearly someone who thought outside of the box. While it seems likely that Johann Kasper was its original inventor, it also seems likely that Reininger had no clue about his work. This makes it a bit difficult to figure out who exactly invented this technique, but it was clearly Reininger who established many of the standard techniques used in her various films. Upon seeing some of her work, it is very likely that her creations inspired her to do even more, and thus I would agree with the notion of, “thought provoking ideas,” in that they in and of themselves would inspire some of her later works. I would also consider it critical to understand that her early critics, “recognized the special power of the pure black and white silhouette,” indicating that they too felt she had great inspiration within the industry. It is clear that she had a gift, especially since actually cutting the pieces out is much tedious and time consuming than simply drawing them out. She is also a classic example of one who is able to adapt to the environment in that she continuously met that standards into the fifties and so forth.

  2. Garrett Lindgren

    In the first reading, “Before Mickey” by Donald Crafton he first spoke about the recurrent imagery which was utilized to maintain coherent narrative forms to early cinema, as well as the early development of western culture migrated into the recognizable western film. Crafton explained that filmmakers would look onto other mediums for their inspiration which led to Blacktons ‘Humors Phases of Funny Faces.’ This inspiration extended further into the realm of comic strips which provided a somewhat limitless supply of gags and jokes that could be pulled from for primitive style lightning sketches. Edwin S. Porter ‘Dream of a Rarebit Friend’ was adapted from a comic strip and utilized all the special effects that cinema could offer him, without the use of animation.

    Its interesting that the use of animation techniques did not really become popular until around 1911 due to the fact that drawing each and every frame of the film existing as quite tedious. the utilization of cut-outs helped to save time and stray away from the conception that comic strips were just a ‘mime of a story with ready-made characters who would appeal to middle class audiences’ these animated films would resemble something similar to the popular stage of the time. connecting these first animated films and the notion of performance art birthed lightning sketches by way of their self figuration. The first animated films evolved from the work of lightning sketches. instead of being fixated on a narrative arch or structure, the performances were to demonstrate the magic of cinema and the trickery that it entails. The animations themselves, especially those of Blacktons became real as soon as the creator interacted with them. this imparted a sense of magic to which the animator controlled. This says something interesting about the power the creator has over the subjects within his film and this new technique opened up a door to which the animator existed as the q

    1. Kenneth Christensen

      This is a classic example of sexism that was very common during the early twentieth century. It is important to note that Reininger was creating her work during the early stages of the Woman’s Right’s Movement. Of course, as many know already, woman during this time did a lot of great things, but were not recognized for them due to societies so called fixed standards of the day. Not only were men favored by Disney and film industries, but in all other industries as well. Reininger is clearly someone who thought outside of the box. While it seems likely that Johann Kasper was its original inventor, it also seems likely that Reininger had no clue about his work. This makes it a bit difficult to figure out who exactly invented this technique, but it was clearly Reininger who established many of the standard techniques used in her various films. Upon seeing some of her work, it is very likely that her creations inspired her to do even more, and thus I would agree with the notion of, “thought provoking ideas,” in that they in and of themselves would inspire some of her later works. I would also consider it critical to understand that her early critics, “recognized the special power of the pure black and white silhouette,” indicating that they too felt she had great inspiration within the industry. It is clear that she had a gift, especially since actually cutting the pieces out is much tedious and time consuming than simply drawing them out. She is also a classic example of one who is able to adapt to the environment in that she continuously met that standards into the fifties and so forth.

  3. Garrett Lindgren

    (This is my real reply, the first was accidentally posted before I could finish)

    In the first reading, “From Comic Strip and Blackboard to Screen” by Donald Crafton he first spoke about the recurrent imagery which was utilized to maintain coherent narrative forms to early cinema, as well as the early development of western culture migrated into the recognizable western film. Crafton explained that filmmakers would look onto other mediums for their inspiration which led to Blacktons ‘Humors Phases of Funny Faces.’ This inspiration extended further into the realm of comic strips which provided a somewhat limitless supply of gags and jokes that could be pulled from for primitive style lightning sketches. Edwin S. Porter ‘Dream of a Rarebit Friend’ was adapted from a comic strip and utilized all the special effects that cinema could offer him, without the use of animation.

    Its interesting that the use of animation techniques did not really become popular until around 1911 due to the fact that drawing each and every frame of the film existing as quite tedious. The utilization of cut-outs helped to save time and stray away from the conception that comic strips were just a ‘mime of a story with ready-made characters who would appeal to middle class audiences’ these animated films would resemble something similar to the popular stage of the time. Connecting these first animated films and the notion of performance art birthed lightning sketches by way of their self figuration. The first animated films evolved from the work of lightning sketches. Instead of being fixated on a narrative arch or structure, the performances were to demonstrate the magic of cinema and the trickery that it entails. The animations themselves, especially those of Blacktons became real as soon as the creator interacted with them. This imparted a sense of magic to which the animator controlled. The animator now has the ability to directly interact with the subjects in the sketch and facilitate gags to which puts himself within the frame of the performance. “Bey depicting themselves at work on the screen, engaged in their business of making magic moving drawings, the artists shows themselves imparting the anima – the breath of life.”

    In the second reading, “Some Critical Perspectives on Lotte Reiniger” by Maureen Furniss we begin by discussing Lotte Reininger and her extensive filmography and how she got her start doing paper cutouts for alternative styles of film making. It seems unfortunate that her style of animation was not conventional enough and even though she produced two feature length animated films before Walt Disney she still got cast out as not being the first to do so. It was common belief that cutout or silhouette style animation was inferior so she was cast to the background. Rudolf Arnheim claimed that silhouette style animation would be perfect for child cartoons becasue children have an imagination that could impart more features and make the characters on screen seem more surreal. Reininger exists as a feminist artist due to the exclusion of females in the animation industry, more women were exiled from art training lest the few that know how to use scissors from their “household duties.” This incredibly sexist view contributes to Reininger not receiving the full credit she deserves for creating the first two animated films before Walt Disney.

    1. Tara Lowry

      I thought it was unfortunate Reininger never truly got the credit she deserved as well! I’m a fairly outspoken feminist, so as someone majoring in animation I was particularly frustrated that I hadn’t heard of her before now simply because of the style she chose to utilize to execute her ideas. I also thought it was interesting that, because she chose to use cut-outs, her work seemed to naturally become excluded. Yet, like you say earlier in your post, cut-outs were often used when creating films inspired by or directly referencing comic strips. In the hands of a man, using cut-outs in order to execute the comic strip style is fine, and yet Reininger skillfully uses them (almost solely) and does not receive the credit she should because of it. Maybe it was because the cut-outs were simply an aspect of the film, and not the entire medium as in Reininger’s work, but I don’t doubt sexism played a large (perhaps larger) part.

      1. Connor Strehl

        I agree that sexism had a major role in Reininger not getting the credit she deserved. Her films are artistic and beautifully display scissor craft animation. However, the medium she used to express her craft undoubtedly contributed to her lack of recognition because silhouette animation was considered a secondary form of animation. I found the films to be a captivating and inspirational.

    2. Kenneth Christensen

      It is clear that she was the first one to set this technique as the modern standard for her films. It is a shame that she isn’t more widely recognized for her work because much of it is very inspirational. My personal view in this is that she that her being a female probably caused the “male” standard to push her to the background. Had she been male, it is likely that she would have been more widely recognized, even though her style was considered inferior. She definitely sticks out as a feminist in that she showed the world that a female can do just as good of work in the film industry as the best of males. As for the comic strip it is important to note that it was an already old art form by the year 1895. While their impact was minimal, they could not be fully ignored by the film industry. This early connection though, set the stage for modern filmmaking in that it was actually the beginning forms of the evolution for narrative story telling. Comics, along with writing could be argued are in a sense “common ancestors” to modern film. It’s important to realize that many of the earliest films revolved around the culture of the time period. Some could argue that the tediousness of the work of having to draw each frame didn’t have the potential to make the money needed to support that kind of labor up until around 1911 or so.

    3. Casey

      Do you think the ways with which Blackton and Reiniger told stories would work for 21st century audiences? The modern American might not buy a ticket for Prince Ahmed, made with silhouette tiles. Would it be too boring? Could a filmmaker get such a production green-lit in the first place? Movie-makers from the silent era operated necessarily without sound, but those pioneers — such as Lotte Reiniger — produced a number of “perfect” films, hailed as the great masterpieces of cinema. Do you think, as audiences increasingly expect movies to look like blockbusters, modern filmmakers must operate within that necessity? Reiniger crafted Prince Ahmed painstakingly over three years. She wielded envious amounts of creative liberty.

      I think, in some way, she was a freer filmmaker than those stuck in the studio system. That said, she was a woman who lived to see fascist Germany. And her name fell into obscurity, while the people who made blockbusters, such as film-student punching bag, Michael Bay, became the common vernacular.

      I want to implement pre-sound techniques into modern filmmaking. Do the film tricks used by Blackton and Reiniger appeal to you, and would you want to make a movie using them?

  4. Jeremy Thurlby

    For me the most interesting aspects of the Crofton reading “From Comic Strip and Blackboard to Screen” were that of James Stuart Blacktown. Blacktown had his beginnings in lightning sketches to the later animations being an innovator in the field. The intriguing part is his distain in later years for animation and “trick“ photography. How does one make this a large part of their life then hate it? My only thought is you get tired of the illusion and want something real.

    The dynamic between the performer verses the animator is interesting. From the fine art world it reminiscent of the hand of the artist; leaving behind traces of tool marks and or finger prints. The lightning sketches there is no trying to deny that it’s a created spectacle.

    The Moritz we are introduced to the work of Lotte Reinigers. I think she is a quite important character to comment on for the deeper context to her works. For me it is kind of shocking that at such an early stage in animation (1920-30’s) with see the undertones of social causes or justice in the works (socialist ideas, women’s rights and gays rights).

    While doing some quick screening of Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed and Carmen I could not help but to think of a contemporary artist named Kara Walker. Walker’s work uses black silhouettes to create a narrative. However Walkers work is static and the viewer walks through the storyline in the gallery verses being animated. Like Reiniger’s undertones of social causes Walkers work addresses inequalities of sexuality, race, and gender.

  5. Charles Scott

    Although “Before Mickey” was an informative read, I was much more interested in the reading that concerned Lotte Reininger. The reading gives us a glimpse into the work of a successful yet sometimes underrated animator. The fact that Reininger was a female, and that she used cut-outs in a time when drawn animation was more popular, are probably the reasons for which she is less widely known in the context of animation history.
    These, however, are the reasons that Moritz (and myself) find Reininger worthy of praise, or at the very least, recognition. As a young woman in her career she found that she could sell silhouettes of actors and actresses to pay for her education; she is utilizing her enhanced “scissorcraft” skills in her free time between scenes to make extra money. This sense of entrepreneurship in tandem with her honed craft is an early indicator of a person with an ambitious hunger for success and recognition.
    Yet she is also a humble person. In the conversation she has with a fellow animator who is questioning her motives to make a fairy tale in the socio-political climate of 1923 Europe (which I will return to), she says that makes the films because she is happy to have the “chance” to make them. It is important to note that she is eager to do all of the intensely time-consuming work because she knows that she is lucky to be doing what she loves. This can be seen reflected in the films that she makes.
    I believe that others might mistake the part of this reading where Moritz says that Reininger decided to include “thought provoking ideas” as being a bad thing. Reininger seems, primarily, to be interested in conveying a desire for a shared realization of acceptance and equality, both in regards to economic/political and social/sexual ideals. I believe that it clear that she had no desire to brainwash children. She made what she wanted to make (with great technical prowess) and for that, she should be praised

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      While being female alone could be part of the lack of recognition but I have begun to also question medium as well; “scissorcraft” skills is a good term, but is that part issue? Its quite early in the class but I would assume there is a hierarchy or value placed on the different animation styles.

  6. Stefan Barnwell

    The article By Donald Crafton explored the roots of both film and animation. I found it interesting how little the industry practices have changed over the last hundred years. For instance, Crafton explains how popular comic strips were basically treatments for the production of the first films. Even as this new and exciting technology was developing, most filmmakers still relied on stories and characters that had already been proven to be successful among the public, rather than taking a risk in creating something unfamiliar that might not be received well. This is apparent today when we watch sitcoms with stereotypical characters and cookie cutter plotlines and movies that keep recycling current popular themes, such as vampires and werewolves.
    I also find interesting the history of animation stemming from lightning sketches. I often saw these as artists showing off their drawing skills while simultaneously getting their foot in the door of show business and potential stardom. However, toward the end of the article, Crafton explains that the artists were using the stage, camera, and the special effects to show how they can take a blank pad and give their creations life and personality. I can completely identify with this idea. Finishing a drawing or animation is a very satisfying feeling that makes me want to proudly display it for others to see.
    The second article by William Moritz was a very interesting history of an undervalued animator named Lotte Reiniger. Reiniger used paper cutouts to create silhouette animations. After watching some amazing clips of her work, I think it is a real injustice that some critics dismissed her works as inferior because they were not cel animated. The fact that her films have been outshined by the popular titans of Disney is possible evidence of the non-recognition of women in media and the stigma that followed German people in general due to the actions of the Nazis in the 1920s onward.

  7. Alejandra Vargas

    In Moritz’s reading about Lotte Reiniger, I can see why many would get offended when realizing Reiniger’s feature-length animations were not considered the first “real” feature-length animated film. However, they did specify the reason being was because her cut-outs were simply a different form (or category) of animation. Therefore, I believe her work is still being considered a first, different type of animation. We can take the in-class example of the children’s television network, ‘Charlie and Lola’. Despite it using hand-drawn elements, the animation is not done drawing frame by frame, but through moving cut-outs. The same goes to Alexeieff and Parker’s pin-work animation not being the traditional hand-drawn animation. Yet, it’s still considered impressive than most.
    Reiniger’s type of work also reminded me of the animation technique used in ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows’ when telling the tale of the three brothers. This scene was shown in silhouette with the movement and character’s looking puppet-like. It also compares to what Arnheim mentioned in his review of the ‘Doctor Dolittle’ feature, that children’s films need to be made more in silhouette. The reason being is because this scene in ‘The Deathly Hallows’ is describing an old tale, and for it to be represented to look like silhouette puppetry, it’s reflecting the imagination of a child being told the story.
    In Crafton’s reading, we discussed a relatable example of this in class when a man who made a comic-strip became outraged after seeing it become a film without his approval. Yet, it’s amusing to see that this situation wasn’t an uncommon one, and that Crafton continues to explain how no comic-strip artist was excited about the prospect of cinema. However, this also brought the advantage for these artists to profit off this and assign copyright laws to their work. This goes on to transition to the work of lightening sketches, which I thought was another smart technique used by artist to gain more business. If one can be entertained by already drawn sketches, they can be just as amazed seeing it performed. Then Georges Melies came up with an even better idea by using the power of cinema to create ‘magical’ illusions sure to captivate his audiences.

  8. Trevor Leavell

    A thing I found fairly interesting was that Lotte Reininger and Clair Parker were treated a bit unfairly in their respective fields even though they were extremely innovative in their field of work. With Parker, since she had co-directed Le Nez with Alexander Alexieff, he had received an overwhelming amount of the credit. Lotte Reininger on the other had, had received criticism because of her animation style, and also, due to the environment of the animation industry of that time, she was also subjected to discrimination much like Parker. Her early critics believed her style of animation to be inferior to that of Walt Disney. Which is also why many believe Snow White to be the first animated feature, despite Reininger creating two animated features before Disney(Prince Achmed and Chasing Fortune). Although her critics find her animation technique to be inferior, I found it to be very innovative for that time. Her animations such as Prince Achmed, Papageno, and Aschenputtel are incredibly interesting to watch due to the jarring animation style.

    Reading Crafton’s article was fairly interesting as well. It’s fascinating how filmmakers took comics to their advantage, and honestly, it seems like it really benefited the industry too. Not only did they present new ways to present gags in films, but it also kinda set a idea on how to present film more enjoyably. These comic strips may have set the way for silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as those two were very comic book-ish in their presentation of gags.

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      The taking of comics as “source material” is interesting but also brings up questions regarding the appropriation and copyright. We have already discussed in class the various studios rebranding and selling animations as their own. Does this follow suit? Were the adaptions changed enough to past muster or were the comic artist compensated for their works?

  9. Fiona Finnigan

    I find it interesting that the comic strip did not have as strong of an influence on early animation as I had thought. It’s interesting that the contribution of the comic strip to early cinema was story lines and characters, though I suppose that makes sense, as they do indeed provide a readymade source of stories and characters that appeal to the mainstream audience. After all, one only has to look to the success of Marvel super hero movies to see that this is still true even today.
    While I would have expected comic strips to have more influence on early animation, I don’t really find it all that odd to read that theatrical stage performances were very influential. I can see the logical progression between the artist bringing to life a story on stage through the medium of the lightning sketches and the early animations. The idea of wildly transforming imagery seemed to be a major feature of both. Additionally, many of the early animations we looked at, particularly those using stop motion techniques remind me of puppet shows, which were already a well-established tradition.
    My knowledge of cinema and animation history is fairly minimal, so it is no great surprise that I have never heard of Lotte Reiniger. None the less, her story is a very interesting one. Pioneering women artists working in new mediums are so often forgotten and left out of the art historical canons, particularly when those women work in a medium that is already associated with women, such as silhouette cut outs. Lotte Reiniger made not one, but two feature length films before Disney’s Snow White, yet Snow White is still credited as the first feature length animated film. Of course, it also doesn’t help that few of her films are still extant today, and the ones that remain are often not the best examples.
    The persistent stigma of animation as being for children, and material for children as being inconsequential is very unfortunate, in my opinion. Yet it is often a cited reason for why work made by women is simply ignored. Somehow art by women is often associated with children, and thus is dismissed as being unimportant. Even in William Moritz’s “Some Critical Perspectives on Lotte Reinigner” one can see the implication that for Reinigher’s work to have had any substance it must of dealt with “Important Political Issues of Its Time” or equally “Important Social Issues of Its Time”. Yet traditional “fantasy” stories for “children” persist because they deal with issue not of “their time” or “our time” but rather all times.

  10. Dennis Hinton

    When I first got into the animation field I thought very similar to Furniss Assumptions theory. I believed that all animation had this Disney functionality and it was strictly for kids. I also thought animations were only created by men because growing up in my culture and neighborhood it was hard to find female artist. I finally broke out of the shell when I was introduced to Japanese animation called anime. This version of animation completed shattered my ideal thought of what animation was meant to be. It had large amounts of adult language, comedy and content. It was very gory and didnt hold back on killings.

    Now in todays animation world I think I tend to lean on the side of Paul Wells orthodox view of animation. I like make cartoons to have a sense of consistency. I like it to be fluid and continue to stay on track. One of the things Wells said that makes orthodox what it is, is the narrative form. This is very key to me because I love to feel connected with the characters and follow their lives as the show goes on. And lastly a big one for me is the dialogue. Dialogue is HUGE in form of media rather in be a tv show, a movie or animation. Successful dialogue can make or break a show. But they are other successful animations that has no sense of dialogue like “Deadsy” which is more of an experimental piece.

    Deadsy was an prime example of Wells abstraction views. The presence of the artist was really strong in this piece. He face and body was shown in the animation and also his voice was the narrator of the animation. Abstraction pieces usually have a lot of different forms of animation present. It look like he used stop motion, drawn, and using his image and altering it using some technique. This piece was oddly confusing because the dialogue was all over the place. Many sentences were not finished and some words were completely made up. I am not a fan of experimental/abstraction animation.

    On the other hand I found the a couple of the experimental pieces to be really good and fascinating. For example the daffy duck animation The piece went completely against the grain of an traditional orthodox animation. Daffy was aware of the artist and even spoke to him as if he was trying to have conversation. The artist was also present with the artist hand and pencil being shown when he was drawing the artwork. Daffy was actually aware of himself knowing that he is a cartoon and knowing how specifically a cartoon program should be ran. He was constantly have to adapt to a new environment. The piece was completely avoiding specific continuity. With all these miscues from an orthodox animation I still found it to be amusing and funny.

  11. Dionte Bolling

    The Crafton reading was a good read. It was interesting to learn about some history about comic strips. When I was younger I was always excited about going through the newspapers hoping to find the comic strips for the day. Even though I had no idea what the jokes were about I still enjoyed them for what they were. After reading this piece, I realized that comic strips really do have narratives to them, even though there are gags to them in the end you are reading a day in the life of that certain character or characters.

    Also discovering that comic strips played an important role in cinema as well was mind-blowing. In the reading the example of a film based on a comic was Edwin S. Porter’s Dream of a Rarebit Fiend. It was made from a strip from Winsor McCay and you can tell from the (figure 11) picture that there was some inspiration taken from the strip but it wasn’t entirely taken from McCay’s strip. Growing up there were a couple of movies that were made from comic strips. The films I remember were The Peanuts, Garfield, Marmaduke and Dennis the Menace. Each of them were made into films and some didn’t do so well in the box office, but it was nice to see a comic strip that has been worked on by many people for decades for the newspaper become a Hollywood film.

    The Moritz reading was interesting. It was interesting because you read and learn the back story about a woman named Lotte Reiniger. After reading this piece, I was shocked that even though Reiniger always put in so much work into her films that she wasn’t given credit for her work. I was also interested in how her style of animation were with cuts outs and not hand drawn. Then I was upsetting that her style of art was considered secondary, because the critics felt that Disney’s Snow White (Hand drawn) film was a “real” animation feature.

    I also was interested in her films when she bases certain character off of real life people or real life situations. For example, the film Toy Story 3, the character and doll Ken. Even though he is supposed to be the manly doll he does certain actions that like the changing clothes montage for Barbie, if you really think about the film it comes out as homosexual-like and kids wont know about it, they’ll find it funny, but a film studies person would pick it up and honestly I never thought anything about it until I was being taught about the hidden messages in animated films.

  12. Evan Swiech

    Donald Crafton begins his article, “From Comic Strip and Blackboard to Screen” by stating that early animation might have taken more inspiration from the vaudeville stage instead of comic strips, as other writers have suggested. Crafton does concede that comic strips could have helped to inspire the quick gags to match early films’ short running times. The brief gags of early films certainly are similar to comic strips. Personally, I have noted that the aesthetic of early fantasy films is identical to the style of 1900s comic strips. Windsor McCay’s style is the first to come to mind.
    We have seen McCay’s shorts, “Gertie the Dinosaur” and “Little Nemo in Slumberland” in class and they definitely follow McCay’s visual style. Of course, it helped that McCay himself was the animator. But other early film fantasies followed a similar aesthetic to the one conveyed in fantasy comic strips. Alice Guy’s early short “The Cabbage-Patch Fairy” looks as though it could have jumped right from a page of Windsor McCay or fellow cartoonist Johnny Gruelle. However, I must note what Crafton notes: my example is a live-action film. Crafton states that the lightning sketch was the birth of animation. This makes sense because many of the early animations we watched in class portrayed the illustrator, the dreamer, or some other live-action person who was responsible for the animated sequence.
    I was very excited to read the second article, “Some Critical Perspectives on Lotte Reiniger”, because I enjoy Miss Reiniger’s work. I have watched sequences from her most famous movie, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, and have watched some of her shorts on Youtube. Author William Moritz’s article brings up a very important question: why does Reiniger not receive more credit for her place in animation history? As Moritz points out, there is a lack of good prints. The Reiniger shorts I watched on Youtube a few years ago were poor-quality dubbed prints played on 1950s television. They were also shown as black-and-white instead of possessing the single color-tinted backgrounds that Reiniger used to aid in creating evocative imagery. The bathing sequences in The Adventures of Prince Achmed would not be the same without the silhouettes of ripples against the blue-tinted background.
    Personally, I believe that commercialism is a huge reason for Reiniger’s lack of credit for her work. Disney is the best example of an artist who knew how to generate the most publicity. But Reiniger was not interested in owning a huge studio; she was content to make her own movies with a tiny crew. The advent of sound also diminished her place in history books. As Moritz describes, Reiniger’s first talkie was not a success because it was originally shot as a silent film and it was poorly dubbed. I have not had the chance to see many of the Reiniger films described in this paper and I definitely want to see them now, especially considering the context within which they were produced.

  13. Mike Maxwell

    In Moritz’s “Some Critical Perspectives on Lotte Reiniger, the use of paper cutouts and silhouettes. While describing the career of Reiniger, Moritz brings up “Prince Ahmed” or the “Adventures of Prince Ahmed”. I decided to go back and watch a few clips from this piece after remembering seeing it at a Film Fridays event back in undergrad.

    The first thing to stick out to me with “Prince Ahmed” is the range of motion in the cutout/silhouette. At times, it is very human and natural while other motions stretch far beyond the average range of motion or flexibility. This seems to be a part of the fact with this paper / stop-motion method. Though the movements that are different to natural motions seem to help convey more being that there is little room for facial expressions or more subtle visual signs.

    Just as an example, when the characters are being shown at the beginning, one of the characters bends his arms backwards and forwards in some unnatural dance that portrays his character a bit. While another barely moves but suddenly changes heads to show a turn towards the audience. It seems like some sort of jump-scare, spooky character with his creepy smiling face. But it doesn’t convey as much as that of the motions for the previous character.

    The bit regarding Lotte’s reasons for making “Prince Ahmed” really resonates with me. Just as a sort of finding meaning a bit after the product in completed. Or just how her statements sort of remarks on the subjectivity of purpose and concept in contrast to the interviewer’s questions. Though, she states “I’m living here in the year 1923, and I have the chance to make this film, so naturally I’m going to do it.” Which almost has a tone of the technology is more of the purpose for her creation than the content. As speculation, would Lotte have been interested in making the same story in another medium if the technology had not been there at the time of her inspiration?

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