The art of animation has changed radically with the introduction of digital to supplant the labourious process of individual painted cells and with it an new sophistication has taken over the world of film cartoons. I’m old fashioned enough to still love the old methods that I grew up with – the animation of Disney, Warner’s et al that rejoiced in the touch of a human hand artfully wielding a pen and brush.
Amongst the today’s greats in the “old style” of animation is the Russian Yuriy Norshetyn. According to the Washington Post, “He is considered by many to be not just the best animator of his era, but the best of all time”.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe he explained that his style of animation was unusual in that it involves uses multiple glass planes to give his work a three-dimensional look. The camera is placed at the top looking down on a series of glass planes about a meter deep (one every 25–30 cm). The individual glass planes can move horizontally as well as toward and away from the camera (to give the effect of a character moving closer or further away).
I’ve been captivated by his Russian fables, the morals of which I have to admit often escape me but then morals have never been my strong point. I’m not sure what we learn from this little other than the glory of Russian folk art and the genius of Norshetyn.
And any website that tells us that the working day begin when:
… the head of the studio – Yuri Norshteyn – slaps his staff upside the head and makes sure the individual and rebellious are put in the corner facing a wall, so they won’t make trouble…
has to be worth exploring: Norstein Studio
Norshetyn and his team have been working on an animated version of Gogol’s classic The Overcoat from 1981 which is still not completed. Various truncated scenes have been presented at international film festivals to acclaim. I love the story and am going to try and track down what there is to see of this great animator’s version.