Obama Ad

I watched the Obama thirty minute ad. It is fairly obvious to anyone in their right mind that if they were American, the right choice is Obama. That is not the topic of this post.

What I do want to explore is the danger that such ads present to the world.

My first questions is: was that ad a piece of propaganda? What is interesting about this question is not the answer, but the fact that I barely could convince myself that it needed asking. It was such a well conceived ad that I almost didn't ask it.

The answer is a resounding yes. Of course, all ads are. It is trying to convince America and the World that Obama is the man of for the job. That he is right, smart, perfect(even when he says he isn't).

So it is propaganda. Does that mean that it is false? No. It means nothing. There is nothing that anyone could ever say in an ad such as that, that can give you any facts about anything.

Why? Because in cases such as this, I always assume the worst. If there were a political party trying to take over America, exactly what would their ad be like? Well for one thing, if they were intent on winning, it would be perfect, just like this one. It is work of art made by writers, directors, actors and artists. I don't believe one word of anything like this. I am willing to questions everything Obama has said about what he will do and what he has done, and what he is like.

So if I don't believe anything that has been said, then how do we decide?

Well I don't turn to belief on issues such as this. There is no knowledge available that could convince me. So I turn to the same part of myself that knows how to gamble.

I gamble and guess when knowledge isn't available. Gambling is when you make choice about things you can't possibly know. But it isn't a fifty fifty game. We have the advantage when making a guess. When I look at this ad, there is no knowledge, no fact, but there are things to grasp at that let me decide. The primary piece of evidence that I have is something that I have already said. The ad is a fantastic work of art. This is a completely subjective observation, with only my best judgment and experience to guide me. But there is true artistry in this ad, and that is the part of it that isn't made up. It isn't fact, or knowledge, it is only something I can feel, and I would only make a bet using it, but in situations like this, I don't think there is anything better to make a decision with.

I'm sorry that this post completely divulged from where it started, and seems to contradict itself. Always assume what I write last is what I think is the most true. I'm not going to edit my changes of opinion because I think it might be interesting to read.


NFB Film Screening

I saw ten new animated shorts from the National Film Board.  Here are my reviews.  Here is a link to the official site

The Necktie

This film was based off of an extremely well known theme, that of growing up and wasting your life doing things you don't want to do at a job you don't like. But it was presented really well. Clean, funny, interesting.

The Forming Game

A much more abstract film that is really about abstract forms and drawings mixed with sound and motion. Again, clean, interesting, good.


An africain story told with cut outs and sand animation. This is the first time that I have seen sand animation that seemed as though the medium of sand made sense. The animation was a little rough, but the animator pushed the poses far enough that they were extremely effective and interesting.

Rosa Rosa
Some sort of love story that I found fairly confusing mostly due to the medium. All real images with white washes and lots of layers. I found it it be confusing and unclear. Even if the images being unclear was supposed to link with the message of the film, that idea wasn't even clear to me. I didn't like this one.

Sainte Barbe

This one seemed alot like someone who really loved Tim Burton. I didn't find the story compelling, about a kid and a grandfather with a magic beard. There was also a very weird design choice of a phallic nose design on one of the characters. I think I heard some laughter of the audience at it. I'm unsure if it was intentional or not, but in any case, I lose faith in the director if something like that gets into a film for a weird reason.


A very weird movie about Hockey. My main feeling was that who ever made it didn't really understand or like hockey. They didn't make anything beautiful or make a point by making something ugly. Annoying, loud, obnoxious. The reason that computer effects need to be used with great care.

Engine 371

A cautionary tale about civilization. I like how strong some of the imagery was that communicated the message, and it was interesting in mis-en scene. But I found something to be off about this movie. The whole thing felt fairly confused and the audio stuck out. It was made with flash which was used effectively in some ways, but I felt it hurt the quality of much of the animation.


Probably my favorite film of the night. It was a mood piece communicating what it feels like when it rains. A masterpiece in communicating the essence of the real world. It was made by someone who was really observed and felt what rain does to the world.


This was a fairly random assortment of animations that morphed one into the next. There were very compelling small bits that really impressed me. A lot of motion in 3d space that I found very enjoyable to watch. Not really a concept or narrative piece.

Drux Flux

An assault on the senses that I did not appreciate. The imagery was too fast and harsh for even me. It was trying to say something about industry and politics but it didn't make sense beyond trying to annoy me. Bad way to end a showing in my opinion, they should snuck it somewhere in the middle, always end shows with some of the best stuff.

Overall I'm really happy with the work put out my the NFB this year. I feel as though there is a movement towards really clean polished animation. I think this is a good direction for animation. If you look at my previous post about animation you should be able to understand why.


Animated Flour Sack

This is my first bigger animation project. We were to animated two flour sacks jumping off of a chasm. One was supposed to be scared, the other not. One was supposed to be heavy, the other light.

I went all out and animated it on ones (24frames per second) instead of twos (12 frames per second) and I went for 12 seconds instead of 8.


Animated Postcard

The theme that we have been assigned for our long term project this year in animation is animated postcard.

What I am currently seeing that as is:

Something Brief
About Being Somewhere
To People You Care About

That was supposed to be three separate points, but they sure fit together nicely as a phrase.

The main thing that I really need to figure out about the above formula is the About Being Somewhere. I know exactly where that somewhere is, it is Montreal, because that is where I am now, and I won't even try fighting the autobiographical tendencies of all art.

If we look back at how I get to know a place, and even how I leave a place, then we should remember that I observe where I am newly arrived and where I am soon leaving. Generally that is done by walking around, looking, listening. It is never very complicated, I generally don't interact on such excursions.

So I'm really not sure what the animated thing I will make will be, but it will probably all taken from life here in Montreal, however I can manage that.


It is interesting to note that this post was made not with the blog itself in mind, but the blog is actually acting as a tool with which I can put my ideas through. I have to type things clearly enough for everyone else to understand, which means later I too will understand. This works much better than me trying to write things down in actual journal form (physical or virtual).

New Digitization Method

Well I have figured out a really neat and somewhat complex method of cleaning up drawings in Photoshop to get them to this really nice black and white and colour state. What makes it special is that you can photograph the drawings with very uneven lighting yet still retrieve all of the drawing. This isn't just a levels trick, there are alot more steps.

Here are some drawings from my new analytical drawing class, and there are some older drawings I tested the method with. More drawings are available in the album if you click through to it.

If any one is really interested I could explain what I have done with photoshop.


What is animation?

This is beginning to become a much harder question for me to answer. It isn't a binary question either. It is related to what to think of as good animation and what to think of as bad animation. These questions concerning value judgment relating to art are always plagued with issues from the start. It isn't so much a question of good and bad art, but really full and rich art versus empty and weak art. So generally I would say that good animation is full and rich, and bad animation is empty and weak.

So what makes good full, rich, wholesome animation. What makes animation something that should become part of the canon of art history.

Here is where I think I am going to really diverge from the normal definition of animation. Animation is the art of presenting content to the part of the brain that interprets visual stimulus. It is not the same as painting, where the content is aimed at the eye. It is aimed at the part of the brain that receives signals from the brain and interprets the changes to understand what is going on.

Animation is not simply trying to show a ball on a screen, that is the job of painting, photography, drawing. Animation is tricking the brain into thinking the ball is moving, bouncing, whatever.

But I need to make a distinction. You could draw a progression of a ball falling in a comic book or story board. I do no consider that animation. In that type of storyboard form, the information from your eyes passes through many layers of the brains process to form the idea of the ball falling. An animated ball falling is impossible for the brain to resist. You simply can't see it not moving, there is no way to distinguish the separate pieces in your mind. Your mind knows that the ball is falling, and that is the art that you have made.

So what does this definition of animation mean to me? Well to being with, it means that I consider film making with a camera to be a type of animation. It is a very specific type of animation, that is really an art form on it's own, but I think it is important to see that film is animation, not that animation is a type of film. It is similar to how painting and drawing came before photography yet all are really just 2d imagery. The big difference was that film and animation came at roughly the same time, and film has had a much stronger backing from society, so it has always been considered the bigger art.

The next really important thing my ideas about animation bring to attention is the question of frame rate. Twenty four frames per second is the speed that normal films are run at. At this speed the brain is generally completely fooled by the illusion that is created by the series of images that make up an animation. However, I feel there is a general trend amongst animators that it is perfectly acceptable due to the large amount of work involved in creating animation to animate at twelve or eight or less frames per second. This is where I think the path towards bad animation begins. When the illusion in the brain begins to fall apart and become apparent to the viewer, I no longer believe that it is good animation.

That is not to say that the product that has been produced is bad, but I don't consider to be near the same thing as animation. TV shows that are really just a series of still images present in sequence should be considered as those. I have seen some really hilarious storyboard like videos on the internet. But they are not really animation.

I think that the question makes a lot of sense to me now.


Sita Sings the Blues

I have gone to my first movie of the film festival that is going on here in Montreal.

The film was called "Sita Sings the Blues".

The first notable feature of this film is that it is feature length and was written and animated by one woman. I don't think that should be the selling point of this film however. It is important in how it affects the movie. It impacts every aspect of this film, from the animation, to the story, to music, to vocals. There are serious limitations in creating a film by oneself, and they imposed themselves strictly on this film.

So I guess I take back what I said about this being a solo work making it a selling point. It truely is the selling point of this film, it is what makes this films form so different from anything that we normally see at the movies. We normally see massive undertakings of giant groups of people, which I think start to dilute some of possibilities that exist in individual people.

So, if you ever see this title somewhere, (which I highly doubt as it is an extremely independant film), than go see it.


Foiled by Vista again

The best thing about running windows vista is that it truly puts my detective skills to the test.

I've been running Photoshop, and it has always been getting really laggy on me. I had all my settings set so that I would get the best performance out of my computer. The main setting that does this is "desktop composition". What this really means is "do you want windows to run in 3d or 2d mode". Obviously the 2d mode runs faster.

Except I discovered in the case of Photoshop. Somehow the 2d mode messes with Photoshop in a such a way that it makes it lag. Therefore to increase the quality of my Photoshop experience, I had to do the counter intuitive choice of reducing my overall performance.

In the end everything has worked out fairly well, but windows truly is annoying. Whenever I get really frustrated with it, I usually end up rebooting back into the Mac side of the computer and everything just "works" (except of course most of the stuff I do only works on my windows side).

It is becoming more and more apparent to me what is so appealing about Macs. However they still don't cover a few essential things, 3d programs, videogames, Picasa. Those problems are deal breakers for me and I don't expect them to be fixed any time soon.

I am however fairly satisfied with having a foot in both camps. I feel I'm fairly well prepared to deal with any type of computing issues (except linux, never really tried it).