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Guano in 3D

A couple of excerpts from a rare interview (MP3 file, 32 minutes) with independent animator Don Hertzfeldt (bitterfilms.com) on Scene Unseen Podcast.

Don Hertzfeldt on progress:

"I feel like I'm constantly learning and I think that's the key to keep making new stuff because I think the moment you think you know everything you kind of turn into an asshole and I would think the process is not as much fun any more."


Don Hertzfeldt on Computer Graphics (CG) and traditional animation:

"First of all I don't want to sound anti CG because I'm not. It's just an amazing set of tools. The cool thing about animation is you can literally do anything. It's technically speaking the purest form of film-making because you are literally working one frame at a time, sometimes working with your hands on every single frame of the picture. So you're free to do anything. Anything you can imagine you can put on film which you can never do in live action. So it's just really stupid and ironic to me that with all this amazing new technology here we can push the boundaries of cinema, we can change the language of cinema – they're trying to just get towards photo realism.

There's this weird misconception that photo realism is the new holy grail of animation which is the complete opposite. I don't care how cool the trees look and how great the dirt is rendered because I can see that in real life. I can see that with a normal camera. I want someone to cook up something that I have never seen before and blow everyone away and it just kind of drives me mad sometimes. And it's frustrating, too, that the studios fired all the 2D guys and it's all CG now. It always sucks to see animators out of work. But then on the foot side I am thinking they were making crappy 2D films. I didn't go see any of them. And now they're making crappy 3D films.

To a certain extend I couldn't care less because I'm doing my own thing and all the most interesting animation going on – and I think this is true of all history – happens in short form. It's all these artists that are completely free of committees and corporations and they can just totally do what they want to; most of the time overseas. And that's what The Animation Show is all about and that's what I am trying to do personally. And it's sort of like if all the music labels said: 'OK, all of our top ten bands, they are not allowed to use guitars any more. They're all gonna record with synthesizers and keyboards.' That kind of sucks but I never listen to that music anyway. I listen to independent stuff and I'm not really, you know ... fuck if I care if you guys just use keyboards because we're doing this over here.

It's something to keep an eye on from the sidelines. But I don't lose a lot of sleep over the CG stuff because ultimately it's all gonna come around again. Audiences will realise that it's the story. And I don't care about these singing penguins if the story sucks. You can make something like Finding Nemo with crayons and it'll be funny and all still work because the characters are good. Ultimately I think audiences are gonna come around and you'll see 2D again in studio features."

...

"The problem that everyone had after Walt Disney's influence, everyone made crummy 2D movies because they thought they had to be like Disney. And now they see John Lasseter's Pixar success and so everyone else is making crummy CG movies because they're trying to be like Pixar. But none of them are ever getting past the form. They don't realise it's all about the writing and the spirit these guys have. (...) And the medium just stagnates. CG dogs and CG pigeons and CG penguins and CG lions. You get one talking animal movie and then you get a dozen others and there is never any progress."

If you don't know Hertzfeldt check some of his animations. Rejected is a good place to start, and talking about it: don't miss Hertzfeldt in 3D:

Intermission!

 

Why not support the artist and buy a DVD?

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