How Do You Solve a Problem like Animation?

I got a job! I am lucky enough to be a junior planner at a fantastic agency, working on one of the biggest accounts in the UK. I’m excited to roll into work a minimum of 9 days out of 10. So, now I’m something of a grown up (for real, I got an email about my pension options the other day (delete.), I want to get back on the wagon and start engaging with stuff outside my (admittedly, gorgeous) spreadsheets. Working in such a buzzy environment has pushed me to read more, see more, listen to more and fingers crossed, write a little more.

I have to write a newsletter for our client each week as a part of my job – it’s a nice way to spend a Monday morning, and it’s a little pocket of creativity all my own in a job where spreadsheets are my life. However, this does have a pretty small range of content I’m allowed to include -but the mornings I spend trawling every media news site out there gives me so much more than Waitrose’s latest digital exploits, and I want to talk about one of those right now.

Anybody who saw Frozen in the cinema might remember the gorgeous hand-drawn/CGI hybrid-cartoon that preceded the movie itself, entitled ‘Get A Horse’:

I flipped out over this harder than the tiny little girls sat behind me, I’m not even going to lie. See, unlike little Olivia and Cordelia behind me, I’d seen black-and-white Mickey Mouse classics at their age, and  fully, wholly believed they were the shit. Like, that that was as good as stuff was ever going to look onscreen. Of course, Pixar showed me. And the CGI came along. And I made my peace with that, like everyone else; until Sylvain Chomet reminded me to not become Olivia, who couldn’t even remember what she had had for lunch (I know, because she told approx. EVERYONE IN A 30 MILE RADIUS.) It’s important to remember that animation used to be hand-drawn, frame-by-frame; movement used to be created by speeding up the flip-book action required to bring these drawings to life.

The Drum published this really cool piece on May 15 about Sylvain Chomet, an illustrator commissioned to hand-draw The Simpsons’ couch gag as stereotypical French people.

Even the light switch is French, guys.

I don’t know how many of us forget that The Simpsons is a cartoon (albeit with digital ink and paint, not hand-drawing), but I bloody well do. That’s modern animation for you, as well as the sheer longevity of The Simpsons as a cultural touchstone. I love that animators are moving into CGI – I really like creatives who work in mediums with longevity, since having to spend less time defending your craft gives you more time to actually do it. The backfire of this is that CGI these days is crazy-lifelike.  The personality and heart you get with hand-drawn animation is lost; a necessary sacrifice, and one that Disney is still willing to make.

Chomet says that ‘long before you know how to write, you draw. As a child, drawing is the only way you can express yourself’. I’ve never been an artist – creating is one of those things that always feels a little too raw, a little too exposed, and drawing doubly so because there’s such a tenuous link between my eyes and my hands. (by tenuous, I mean non-existent). But there’s something about seeing someone else’s actual hand to paper work whilst I multi-screen my 2014 arse off that sits me in this happy place between child and adult, and it’s great.

Also fuck it, have the video – it’s hilarious: