Monday, April 27, 2009

Domo arigato, Kunio Kato.

Animators are a curious bunch... I might not be too justified in saying that but... work with me here.

I've actually been lucky enough to know an animator. Just the one – that I would classify as a true animator. Others, like most of you, I've experienced through YouTube and the occasional special feature on DVDs/Blu-rays. But, disclaimer aside...

Character design/sketch

Animators are a curious bunch. Often uncompromising. Even more so, I'm told and can imagine, than most prima donna Hollywood directors – but in a non Michael Bay way. They either don't compromise on the technical quality of their work OR the quality of their storyline... and some won't compromise on either... This makes them either;
a) Technical geniuses,
b) Masterful storytellers

Having had the privileged to work with, and observe, a real animator at work I imagine several factors help fit animators into one of these boxes. Many who rely on the skill to make a decent enough living will willingly shuttle between the first two choices depending on their project requirements, time, technology they have to work with, etc. – this is no mean feat. AND they, the real animators (extrapolating here from just the one that I know – but I imagine, cos of the YouTube videos and the special features, others would probably work along the same lines), will nearly always deliver a finished product that is, not withstanding CRAZY, unreasonable project requirements, always top notch.

Often times than not, animators control everything on their projects, performing multiples roles that, in normal circumstances, would be left up to a whole crew – from character design to lighting, to cinematography and the actual animating.

They truly suffer for their art – more so than in any other media related profession I'm sure...

Which, long winded as it is, brings me to my point. The one animator that I know and who I call a dear friend, Yamin Rasheed – the creator/producer of 'The Maakana Show', was called up recently by someone we both know and respect(ed) and accused of being a sell out.

A scene from 'The Maakana Show'

Now, neither I nor Yamin will pretend 'The Maakana Show' to be a great masterpiece of animation. Far from it – it is almost entirely entertainment, with just a little bit of social commentary and satire thrown in. It does not strive to be great. Rather, it strives to be relevant to the time it is based in – our social condition that is the here and now! And I believe, several short coming aside, that the show does indeed achieve this – maybe, right now, not to the best of its potential but give them time... if not in 'The Maakana Show' maybe in the next Cellmin production.

Passionate people such as these affect our lives through their work and to question their work in a petty, baseless, self serving manner is something that we should avoid at ANY cost. And I wouldn't just limit that thought to animators alone – this, I feel, is true of ALL art.

OK – what's the relationship between Yamin and the title of the post AND which box does he fit into you ask?

A scene from 'La maison en petits cubes'

Kunio Kato is the 2009 Oscar winner for Animated Short Feature – his film entitled 'La maison en petits cubes' is phenomenal and I'd say he's definitely in box (c).

Yamin is a Technical genius when it comes to animation. His work on, 'Abu' (a 15 minute short feature we both worked on during our time at TVM, around 1999) speaks to his need to tell entertaining and affecting stories... so right now he's in box (a)... but heading toward box (c)...

In short, the title is my way of saying 'thank you' to ALL the animators that I've come to appreciate, each for their unique talents – from everyone working at Disney/PIXAR to Matt Groening and everyone in between.

Be sure to catch 'La maison en petits cubes' – it's probably on YouTube.

And 'The Maakana Show' is on VTV every Friday, 10:00 at night.


Anonymous said...

I heard that VTV pays peanuts to Yamin's animation team. :(

aindhy said...

Anonymous - Depends on what you compare it to I guess. If you compare to what PIXAR makes, or even Matt Groening, then yea you might be right. BUT the true value of a weekly animated Dhivehi TV show was not determined before The Maakana Show came along… so let me put it to you this way;

Yamin does not think he’s getting paid peanuts!

He might not be getting paid extremely well but who is these days eh? ;o)

Still, he’s managed to sustain his production so it’s all good.

Other shows that follow will definitely benefit from this is my guess. If anything it is now a proven fact that an animated Dhivehi show will work - IF you bring content with it!