1. Topic/Background/History Relevance:
Advances in technology have enabled filmmakers to create visually stunning masterpieces that were once a figment of their imagination. Let me begin with Toy Story, the first breakthrough in the marriage between technology and film. Toy Story was the first Hollywood computer generated (cg) film, primarily aimed at the younger generation but enjoyed by all. Advances in technology also has improved the visual effects aspect in many film, making what once seemed to be impossible now a reality. I will be examining the effects of technology in relation to film and how these digital advances can be considered as art.
The history of digital art in film is relatively small in comparison to the entire history of film dating back to the early 1900s and Thomas Edison. I would like to begin in 1995, with the real first breakthrough in utilizing computers and technology to create the film Toy Story. This one event seemed to ignite the idea that computer made graphics could be used instead of the traditional cartooning.
Toy Story also led to the idea that computers can be used to create special effects in action films such as Jurassic Park and more recently 300. Teams of computer programmers are creating such a stunning visual backdrop in films that it is replacing the traditional technique of filming on location and blowing real things up (as much fun as that is). It is now, as a film audience, hard to tell the difference between what is reality and what is virtual reality in film, something that places great significant impact on the whole experience of watching a film.
2. Defend/Define why digital art in film is art:
It is pretty apparent why the use of technology in film is considered as art; it is replacing the traditional sense of art direction in contemporary film. For example, Toy Story introduced a new medium in which film can be produced and enjoyed. It takes a creative process to create computer animated films. Deepak Chopra states that creativity comes from having an intended vision, then gathering information, then analyzing the information, then incubation sooner or later, you have the eureka experience (1).
The final product is considered art because it falls directly in the definition of art which is The expression of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power (Computer Dictionary). I believe it takes both what Deepak says about creativity and how we define art to come up with why certain aspects of life are considered as art, such as digital technology in film.
The use of digital art in film is a natural progression of advancement and is foreshadowing what to expect in the years to come. It is the way the industry is heading and is becoming the staple of how to create visual effects in film. Using computer technology to create film provides the artist with a limitless pallet only constrained by his/her imagination. In some respect, digital art could be considered more of an example of art than tangible creations because the options are literally limitless to what one can create. This creates an environment that is extremely conducive to creativity and in turn is a perfect example of why the use of computer technology in film is considered art.
3. Discuss the relationship between film and culture. How does it impact culture? Communicate values/beliefs/etc. ?
Film is an American pastime. That being said, the use of digital art in film has an immense impact on culture and communicates values and beliefs through the way that it is presented. People go to movies to take a step out of their reality and step into that of the filmmakers. Being a filmmaker myself, my main go is to make the viewer forget about the world that they live in and be taken by the story they are experiencing. Through the arts we learn to see what we had not notice, to feel what we had not felt, and employ forms of thinking that are indigenous to the arts (Eisner, 20). The film allows the viewer to feel emotions, experience events, and live a life they never thought possible and feel somehow connected to it all.
Pixar films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille all communicate fundamental American values to its viewers. These films are aimed towards the younger audience communicating deeply rooted beliefs such as friendship, love, and the difference between good and bad. For example, in the film Finding Nemo, Nemo learns the importance of parental relationships when his love for his father grows throughout the film.
The use of digital technology has opened up a new realm in which to communicate these values. For example, in the past, and movie like Finding Nemo would have been animated in the traditional sense and maybe it would not of been as successful at telling the story that it did with the use of a realistic underwater world. Children and adults are able to connect to the story much better when they arent distracted by cartoons and are captured in the moment by stunning visual effects in the movie.
4. Who are the artists creating this work? How do they engage? Get educated?
It takes a salad bowl full of artists to create digital masterpieces in film. A typical team at any movie studio would consist of a director, art director, art coordinator, many computer programming artists, and artists drawing out creations before they are transformed into virtual reality. Collaboration is a key ingredient in creating films such as Ice Age and special effects in todays movies.
Chuck Richardson, a production manager for Ice Age said, ”An assembly line sets a horrible burden on the process It demands inventory. It consumes work. It demands people be creative on a schedule. It is very wearying, because people don’t realize how much work it is. Producing an 80-minute film is more work than they’ve ever done in their entire life in a concentrated period have to animate four seconds a week (2). This is a process that takes true dedication and a passion for what the artist is creating. It is crucial to produce films that are as non disruptive to the creative workflow as possible.
The majority of these artists work in the film industry for a number of years and have built up quite a demo reel. I know this because I have worked on a number of films and have close relationships with folks involved in most every aspect of this very creative and open process. It not only takes a great artist to create their art, but it also takes great software designed by artists for artists. Programs such as Maya, RenderMan, and Adobe After Effects are just a few of the key programs used in film production. High budget studios such as Pixar utilize this software, but with their deep pockets, are able to program software specific for the job they are making.
Its a very exciting time to be involved with film and the advance of technology. The creations that are coming into fruition are just mind boggling and provide a perfect example of how this form of art impacts American culture. Computer animated films have come a long way since Woody and Buzz Lightyear but I guess the saying still holds true; To infinity, and beyond!