Non-Scientific Observations on Common Elements in Animation Entries...by Deanna Morse

Viewing the 1147 entries of the Hiroshima Animation Festival, I thought I could make some real concrete statements about the nature of the work being done in animation today. Well, I can?t. It?s just too varied. We saw a wide variety of films and techniques - drawn, puppet, clay, paint on glass, cg, timelapse, image processed, cel, mixed media, sand drawn on film...

However, I did keep some notes during the three weeks of screenings. Mostly, I wrote down things that were similar, so that I could share this information with my students. Looking back at my notes, sometimes it was just oddball stuff. For instance, we screened two films in a row that featured angry babies, then two about Snowmen. Two films used the same title. (It didn?t matter, we selected one for competition; it won an award.)

In this list, I?ve tried to cull more than two instances.. so here they are - my nonscientific observations about what we saw...

Common ways of starting films
in the clouds
in the morning
an alarm clock wakes up the protagonist
in the night as the day begins
in a starfield
using a newspaper to reveal the plot points
films that took a long time to get started
took too much time establishing a ?mood? before the story kicked in

Common styles and themes
animation ?reality? films
animating to documentary sound tracks
the effect of television on little babies
live action and animation intercut
men in prison
men in chains
dream diaries
people become insects
dragonflies
people get trapped in a computer game
bank robberies
old men alone in houses
dark stories

Reoccurring visual elements
big lips
men with big cheeks
buxom ladies characters with two different sized eyes
blood shot eyes
skulls
a face turns into a gorilla face
cowboys
circus
constellations
clouds
rain
mountains and water in computer
animated films
mermaids
castles
seashores
sand
spaceships
space shuttles
people with their heads cut open
clocks and watches
gears
flies and maggots
spiders
dragons
cows
birds
bees
butterflies
cats and dogs
lizards
saws for hands
computers
televisions
radios
sharkfins
teeth as a decorative element in a scene
checkerboards
stripes

Common camera gestures
the camera goes into the mouth and away
the camera goes into an eye
we look through a spyglass
Common sounds
burping
solo piano
background sounds of computers
televisions
radios
classical music
sonatas
doors that trigger a sound when they open
farting

This is not to suggest that all of these things need to be avoided. We selected films for competition that shared these common elements. Some of them even won prizes. But films that had a fresh style or characters grabbed our attention more quickly!

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