Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Realism Dilemma

Soon enough we will find that realistic animation is not only for entertainment and education but can also cause great harm. Today we already have trouble distinguishing fake news from real news. Tomorrow we will not know whether what we see is real, or even if what we can touch is the genuine article. The technologies of realistic animation as well as 3D printing and similar automated manufacturing will allow us to create visual illusions of real things and then eventually create fakes that can't be distinguished from the real thing.

So what is the big deal about all of this? Well this will represent a considerable blow to the average person's ability to understand what is and isn't real. If that weren't bad enough, the societal consequences will be worse. The fact that anybody, and thanks to automatic animation technology coming out, I really do mean anybody, can do this means that we will have to find a way to know what is real and what isn't. The only way to tell what is real and what isn't is to have a surveillance state that records people and their surroundings all of the time.

That's right. The technology that's being used to make fancy special effects and artificial worlds is going to have far reaching consequences that will change our society in very ugly ways. You won't be able to have a surprise party anymore thanks to the constant surveillance on everybody at every time. And it will get even worse when we find a way to fool the human eye better with visual scenes seen in real life that are entirely fake.

Just imagine how many political parties, cults and religions are going to use pseudo-life scenes to convince people of their point of view. After 3D printing gets more sophisticated there will be fake artifacts to go along with it.

If you want to know just how far from reality we've already come, consider IKEA's advertisements which are made with rendered computer models that look completely real. There are already surely many other examples which we aren't aware of doing the exact same thing.

Today's magic tricks will be tomorrow's false realities. Remember that during the next  special effects heavy blockbuster you watch.

What Do We Do Once We've Mastered Animation?

Once we've made photorealistic moving pictures the next frontier will be photorealistic simulations with maximum interactivity. In other words, simulations where you can do any number of things you want that aren't part of some preconceived creator's plan. Picture a world where you can do whatever you want, like scrape the paint off a building or blow up a whole city and have it be done in a different way every time.

Then we will bring the virtual into the real world with robotic scenes that exploit magnetic fields to create real life animations using micro robots. There are other ways of creating pseudo-in-life scenes but this is the most practical. At some point they're bound to become interactive,, by that I mean touchable, though I imagine that day would be a long ways off because if the robots get too small, they could be accidentally inhaled. Robotic scenes that you can move around in could be an experience more exciting than a video game but of course there will be certain safety guidelines which I can't yet predict.

Somewhere along the way, art will also evolve psychologically. If you like looking at art that doesn't look back, you're in for a rough ride. In the future art will be able to analyze a person's gaze and change things depending on where you're looking. I suspect that most if not all the technology necessary to do this is available now. So if you're an artist and you feel like messing with somebody, go ahead and do it. Just wait until we have live animation that records the person watching it and adjusts depending on how much they like it.

At some point we will progress to the last two stages: simulated intelligent life forms and real designed life forms. We will do so because there is no other alternative just as Pixar makes more realistic looking environments in film after film because they want to stay on the technological edge. Just like they ignore the awkwardness of realistic looking CG environments, people in the future will ignore the ethics of artificial life doing exactly what we want it to do and its similarity to human slavery of the past. Proponents will say that unlike slaves, artificial life forms will want to do what we made them to do. But of course, if we give them any sort of will of their own, some will want to do something else and if they're smarter, stronger and faster than us then they'll want to boss us around. The question is this: Do we want to let the machines manage us or do we want to become machines ourselves and evolve beyond humanity?

If you don't believe me, then you'll want to read this:

That alone should be evidence that human beings are living on borrowed time.

Nobody knows exactly how bright or dark our future may be. If they do know, it'll be hard to tell the true seers from the fakes. For all we know every human alive will perish and none of this shall happen. Or maybe we might decide not to pursue further technological innovation that would potentially ruin us. I don't think that will happen though, because we tend to see the continued existence of the human species as an imperative and the Earth will become uninhabitable in around 100 million years as the sun grows hotter. Or, closer to the present, we will need to figure out how to maintain ecosystems that we barely understand. I suspect that the latter will be one of many forces that drive the development of general intelligence superhuman level AI.

Before I wrap this up, there are a couple of questions. Will we at some point redesign Earth's ecology in order to keep up with us if we evolve into machines of some kind? Should we not design psychological art of this sort due to what it may evolve into? How will we cope with animation and later interactive artforms that look and sound, maybe even taste, feel and smell like reality? I may answer some of these questions in a blog post soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Relatively Recent Animated Films with No US Release

First up, Garry Bardin's stop motion adaptation of The Ugly Duckling

Next, from Brazil there's two animated films that need to be brought over. One is Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury directed by Luiz Bolognesi and the other is Garoto Cosmico, the first feature from the director of The Boy and the World, Alê Abreu. While Garoto Cosmico doesn't look anywhere near as good as The Boy and the World, it looks to be interesting enough for completists to watch. I was surprised to learn on Cartoon Brew that the film isn't even available in Brazil.

From Italy there's The Art of Happiness directed by Alessandro Rak. I don't know exactly why this film hasn't been released in the US. It seems like the same pattern for every m. One or two places review it and if it doesn't get a glowing review, it almost always gets ignored.

Trailer: The Art of Happiness from Submarine on Vimeo.

From the studio Folimage in France, there's Aunt Hilda! which is directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Benoît Chieux. I would like to see this film despite the mixed reviews. It looks about as good as Mia and the Migou but appears to be unpopular due to its environmental message as well as the bizarre plot.

The two films here that interest me the most are The Ugly Duckling and The Art of Happiness. I'm interested in seeing all of them, however, if they get at least a DVD with English subtitles or an international release. Let me know what films you're interested in here, or which recent films I didn't mention here that you want to see given an English language release.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Elf on the Run (AKA Teresa eta Galtzagorri)

I just watched this movie through my cable's on demand service directed by Agurtzane Intxaurraga. It is about a girl and also an elf who escapes from the forest into a carnival, to be captured by a circus ringmaster and then set free by the girl. The girl is mad at her mother for being mean to her, especially compared to her baby brothe,r a series of events partially brought on by her accidentally breaking her mom's camera in a Rube Goldberg-esque way. This alienates the children she's playing with who leave and don't come back for the rest of the story. I don't want to spoil too much so I'll stop there save for a few critiques.

The highlight of the movie is the art direction and animation which is surprisingly good for what is a low budget production. The story is a bit above average, notable more for not including annoying characters and including the right pieces than for pushing boundaries. To put it succinctly, it's a direct to video sort of film but for once it's actually good. At least until the dance party moments in the ending. The version of the film I watched is dubbed in English and I probably would have enjoyed it more in the original language which I'm reasonably sure is Spanish. This film is a little weird in that it's available in a lot of places but there's little information available on it.

I give the movie a 7.5 out of ten. It is the best animated film I've seen since Mune. I might share my thoughts on Mune or Short Peace soon. I tried to catch A Silent Voice in theaters but it was only playing at night and I had to work. I'll have to watch it on DVD when it comes out.

For those who are reading this post in the United States, contact your local congressional members and tell them to support net neutrality. If you look at this site, you'll be able to identify your local congress persons and find out whether they support net neutrality or not. If they don't, let them know that you won't stand for it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

North of Blue and Window Horses

I found out through Animation World Network that Joanna Priestly is creating North of Blue, an abstract animated feature. Read about it there for your self. The trailer has yet to be released.

Window Horses is an animated film about a shy poet who goes to a poetry festival in Iran. It's showing in festivals right now. I hope to either catch it at a festival or see it in a later commercial release. There's no saying how long this film will stay obscure.

I'm currently working on a page with information on film availability. One change I may make in the future is promoting films that are simply old and not just obscure ones. After all, many animated films are becoming less and less obscure. I'm also entertaining the idea of making an animation web forum for overshadowed movies outside of the mainstream of US and Japan. See you all again when I make the next update.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Defunct Animation Blogs

Over time there's been a lot of animation blogs that produced good content but eventually shut down for one reason or another. It's a bit frustrating to see some of the best animation blogs and even communities disappear and to make it worse, half the time you're not sure why the blog closed.

Frames Per Second Magazine link
Animatsiya in English link
Ha Neul Seom link
Michael Sporn's Splog link
Too Long for Twitlonger link
Animondays link
Keith Lango Animation link

I have been around the animation community for a long time and seen a lot of blogs close. Frames Per Second closed because of the death of Emru Townsend who couldn't find a kidney for transplant. Animatsiya in English closed because of the blog runner Niffiwan's frustration with video takedowns and probably from moving on in life. I still don't know why Ha Neul Seom closed down and it's a shame and I don't know why Your Daily Cartoon has stopped. Michal Sporn's Splog, as anyone who's visited it knows, ended when Michael Sporn died. Too Long for Twitlonger had some really interesting commentary but wasn't around for very long. Animondays was a good blog though I remember surprisingly little of its content aside from the Craig Bartlett interview. Keith Lango had perspective and animation tips but got caught up in work.

Some blogs are as far as I can tell, still around but haven't been updated in a while.

Animation Backgrounds
The Animation Activist
AniPages Daily

Many of the great sites of the animation blogosphere are gone or on hold. The English Animatsiya(Russian animation) community is dead and tensions between the US and Russia are very high(Syria, elections, etc...). IMDb has closed down all its forums. The only movie stores left in my area are big box stores and video game stores. In brighter news Netflix is investing in original content some of it good, but distributors getting into the animation game isn't how I wanted the progression of animation to happen.

I'll be updating this blog and making improvements. My links section is badly out of date. There is more to do and I need to get to it.

Edit-4/9/2017 Removed Your Daily Cartoon from the defunct blog list as I see that it has recently been updated.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2D Animation Comment My "Illegitimate Email" Kept Me From Posting on Animation Anomaly

Below are my comments on the Animation Anomaly thread The Real Reason 2D Animation Isn't "Viable". This is a response to Aaron Keefe.

I understand your point that 2D animation done on the computer and not just colored on it is technically 2D computer animation. I've made allusions to the pinscreen and how digital animation is technically just a high resolution color pinscreen

I think that it is possible to make 2D computer animation just as stunning as the 3D variety. One way is to harness noise art in a figurative sort of way. Another is to harness artificial evolution of 2D images. One more way, at least a couple of years into the future is thought printing. That would revolutionize visual art in allowing anybody with a vivid imagination to print out artworks with just a couple of mental visualizations. It would be invasive if done publicly if bad thoughts come up, so it would most likely be done in private and only the results would be shared in public. It's not just art that would be revolutionized by this. Communication itself would be revolutionized. As somebody who doesn't want to become a cyborg, I find the future worrisome.

Even for those with more limited visual imaginations, I expect computer drawn animation to be outdated soon. After all, why draw anything when you can have a computer create patterns that imply depth and can be shared in an online database? After all, just about every basic shape has been drawn before by somebody. I suspect that the future will be a combination of drawing and pattern sharing. Through this system, artists will be able to create animations that are more detailed than those that came before them. It will be like the word guess feature on today's smartphones. This is how the particular example of noise art will be harnessed.

Between those three basic tricks I mentioned, 2D artificial evolution, thought printing, and what I'll call 'permuting', hand drawn animation as we know it may soon no longer exist in its current state, except in the hands of die hard fanatics.

It's possible to do many of these things in 3D too, but that's a whole different subject. For one last note, while these technologies may open new possibilities, they won't take away from the dedication that it takes to be the best that one can be. Artificial evolution takes a lot of forethought in deciding what direction to go in, thought printing takes a well used imagination filled with many images honed through practice, and permuting takes a level of shape sorting that may overwhelm people with its over-complexity and sorting of fine details. If you're wondering about anatomy, there are already websites with 3D images available for animal skeletons. Expect more things like that in the future.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. I have more to say on 2D animation, but I'll leave if for another time.