My First Animation

I spent a couple spare hours tonight fiddling with Animation Desk, a free basic drawing/animation app I found in the Microsoft app store. It’s really quite addictive, being flexible and easy to use even for those of us who have no art skills. I was so amused with my first effort that I just had to post it here:

(There are 12 frames in this video playing at 24 frames/second, making the whole thing only half a second long; if you play the video on Youtube you can change the settings in the lower right corner of the video to play at slower speed, or right click on the video to loop.)

I really got into animated television shows with Avatar: The Last Airbender in freshman year of college, and from there progressed onto anime as well as American-produced series. Animation has a reputation (in the U.S. at least) of being “for kids”, which often precludes them from being taken seriously by critics as works of art with messages as substantive as their live-action counterparts. If anything, one great advantage of animation is its enormous potential to transcend what is “real”, freeing an artist to exaggerate action, expressiveness, and dialogue as well as create worlds in which viewers can suspend all disbelief. Imagine Kill la Kill, a wild show with transforming school uniforms that examines how our clothes shape our identities and roles, without its schizophrenic transformation sequences and brilliant colors. Or what about The Venture Bros., a self-aware parody of popular science fiction and fantasy tropes, with its elaborate blunders and baroque machinations orchestrated not by its zany animated cast, but by live actors? And even for shows like Spongebob Squarepants, animation facilitates comedy by exaggerating facial expressions, distorting physics, and setting up scenarios whose impossibility in our world renders them all the more entertaining.

And lastly, animation is democratic. A complete, coherent episode may take skilled staff months to complete, but even so, any schmuck can, with a bit of time, stitch together a sequence of doodles into moving, living artwork. Hence this clip: 12 frames of a stick figure flying around with explosions, nothing compared to a complete episode or even a scene, but something I’m kind of proud of nonetheless.

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