9/ Abstract Thought/ 3D Films

An Animated Feature for 3D

-Is 3D sustainable for cinematic value

-film itself needs an important reason to use 3-D. But do we really need a reason for this? Rick Mitchell argues  that because the best 3-D film processes are too expensive for most theatres to install, 3-D production will remain centered on the less satisfying processes and therefore fizzle out.

-challenges overcome- 3D TVs now available at home, and those without glasses available. No prevention for headaches- but this has not stopped gaming industry selling.

-Arguements for= adds realism but stereoscopic technology to do more  than gesture at a lived spatial experience.  J. P. Telotte has argued that 3-D films imply physical contact through an illusion of depth, and these moments “pointedly work to violate our space, only to leave us sensing something amiss, something unaccounted for.” Popular as offers feel of realism in a made up environment.

I found this interesting- I myself never have truly enjoyed 3D cinematic experiences, due to the annoyance of the glasses and the general nausia it gives me. It also strikes as an odd think to want- to sit alone in a room, wearing those odd glasses by yourself. I also think it really does not offer much to the experience of a film at all- many using it as an added feature, but having nothing to cater for it (Shrek and Spy Kids being an example).


Abstract Thought as a Danger Zone in Inside Out

– the characters escape into a a tunnel respresenting abstract thought.

– From beginning it is shown as a danger zone- DANGER KEEP OUT- signs.There – vast white space, characters become geometric shapes, unusual for Pixar due to their focus on extreme detail and lack of definition.

-it is not just spooky- it is a physical threat to the characters. First stage being Picasso version, then in to pieces, and then into 2D shapes. Finally, right before they manage to escape, all three characters are reduced to single-colored shapes (a yellow star and two blobs, blue and pink). In that sense, abstract thought is portrayed as a destructive, uncontrollable, and terrifying force.

– As it turns out, what is dangerous and scary about Abstract Thought is abstraction itself. In the Pixar universe, straying away from the reassuring familiarity of three-dimensional physical reality (however creatively augmented by stylization and caricature it may be) is unthinkable and self-destructive. In Pixar – and American studio animation at large – abstraction remains off limits, while two-dimensionality is increasingly unwanted and dangerous.

Shane Ackers: Big Worlds, Little Stories- counting up to 9 

PW: Animation seems to attract all kinds of personalities, from different backgrounds, and will a range of skills. Why did you decide to work in the form?

SA- Inspired by  Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay and haunting worlds they created.  They were abstract and used non-conventional characters and objects, unfamiliar in animation, which allowed a metaphorical landscape to be created. Their films were loaded and could be interpreted in many different ways.

PW: What was the thinking behind the UCLA programme at that time – were they attempting to produce independent auteurs, or were they directing their efforts to training people for established production pipelines on major movies?

SA- Unique- round house film maker and show own voice. Develop ideas and concepts. Not taught techniques but given tools to do so.

PW: Was 9 your first full animation, or was it preceded by other work?

The Hangnail (1999)- 3 minutes long

PW: Concepts and ideas rarely fall from the ether, and neither are they fully formed. Was 9 a story with a long history, merely waiting for an opportunity to get made?

-characters same puppet with different numbers on back

-creating a story with no speach, personality in puppets.

PW: It is interesting that you use the term ‘pantomimic’, as it is often used as a comic term, but you obviously see it in a wider sense.

-When we just communicate non-verbally, it becomes pantomimic and takes on a universal dimension. There is a kind of common experience through body language.

-film maker uses set design, lighting etc to reach out in this pantomimic sense

PW: At one level, 9 is a classic science-fiction story. Did you view it partly as a ‘genre’ film?

– spiritual film ironically about post human (spiritual implies human)

–  man kind causes its own apocalypse (but not mentioned)- using past ideas to live- weapons etc.

PW: The art direction in both the short and the feature is very distinctive. We seem to be in a space some time after World War I yet pre-World War II, but also in an alternative world characterized by what might be seen as a ‘steampunk’ aesthetic. What were you seeking to achieve by this approach to the design in 9

– between Great War- uncertain time in human history

-parallel world relatable in which everything can come to an end. Response to the overly cheerful CGI films at the time.

PW: I find the colour palette to that world very interesting, in that it seems quite dense, subdued and dark, clearly working as a model of narrative in itself, and supporting the view of this as a world with a past history.

– world end and decaying- browns

-like the way the world becomes distressed as a consequence of humankind’s desire to separate itself from nature, but nature resisting and starting to claim back its space. Man can never really separate himself from nature and the earth, and the colours were definitely chosen with that idea in mind.

PW: Many aspiring film-makers hearing your story, though, would think that it was extraordinary to have their work admired by Tim Burton, and that such an opportunity was so unusual, that it was worth the effort and difficulty

-difficulties of working in Hollywood- pitch idea, work for money, work on the idea, work for money until Tim Burton showed interest

PW: The producers obviously saw great potential in the world you had created in the short, so once you had dealt with these initial changes and challenges, what was it that you felt you could achieve in the long form?

– lack of complex story telling and view of a wider plot line.

– collaborating with the visual and cinematorgraphy

– Mixing pot of ideas.

PW: From being a ‘director’ of a short to being a ‘director’ of a feature must be an entirely different thing. In the former, you can fully control everything, and tell your story through action and art direction, but in the latter a big part is also about how you direct actors. What was your experience like in that respect?

– no table reads, actors had to bounce off the direction given

– invested and brought ideas to performance

PW: So, even though you had a demanding and challenging first feature experience, what are you most proud of in the film?

– sees all the battles and distress through the actions taken

– sequence of the silent characters- twins- creating the personality in them

After watching the short and then the film, I found it odd that the made a full 1.5 hour feature film. The short was a lot more powerful, saying everything it had to say in the limited amount of time, and creating a lot of character and emotion with no dialogue. I think some things should be kept the same- remakes and extensions not strictly necessary.