Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Story vs Demo Reel

In my recent post you were treated subjected to the yawn inducing pixels of demo reel film "Meet Meline". Here it is again, if you missed it:

In stark contrast I offer the work of DarkMProductions:
Sign Episode One: Beginnings

You might notice a few slight differences between the two films. "Meet Meline" has slick production values, highly detailed backgrounds, fuzzy out of focus stuff, fuzzy squirrel things that the girl chases the whole film. Both films took about the same time to produce, about 2 years, and a small production team.

The style of "Sign Episode One Beginnings" is quite obviously amateur, made in Bryce and Anime Studio . I've used both, I started out using Bryce 3, and the first 5 minutes of Rocketmen vs Robots ep 1 is done in it. Anime Studio (back when it was called Moho) was what I originally started Archon Defender with. Not easy to get good looking results out of either program, plus I suck at animating in 2D. That's why I switched to 3D and forced myself to learn character modeling and rigging.

That aside, "Sign Episode One Beginnings" is by far the superior film. The cinematic shots are fantastic, the pacing of the story is spot on, and the characters are believable, and the film engaged me for the whole. I even took the effort to click onto part 2 (stupid youtube 10 minute limit... they really have to update that) "Meet Meline" is a yawn inducing, predictable, boring, shiny demo reel, so typical of 3D animation. It's amazing to me that when you have the tools at your disposal to create anything you want with animation, and 3D animation, why so often it falls short. It's all about story. If you don't have a story, if you don't engage your audience and allow them to identify with the characters, if your film has no depth: Then you aren't making a film, you're just testing out the software.

Luckily, a few filmmakers out there get it.


Jordan said...

I've been hugely inspired by the work of the few feature-length solo animators on the internet, and I've learned a lot from your blogs, but I think that in general you tend to err on the side of not appreciating beautiful, realistic, small-scale art.

I honestly enjoyed "Meet Meline," with its detailed presentation, high-quality sound design, and overall childish joy much more than "Sign Episode 1". Sure, it didn't open with an exploding planet or feature melodramatic violence, but it was charming, enjoyable, and touching.

The creativity and ideas of SE1 just didn't make it through the poor script writing and voice acting, low-quality animation, and anticlimatic pacing. Of course, personal opinion is a big deal in art, but I wouldn't consider it "by far the superior film."

Don't mistake clich├ęd dramatic elements or geographically large-scale concepts for story and depth. Detailed nuance, particular mood, and personal, intimate feelings are equally important elements in any work of art.

~ J

nodelete said...

I stand by my observation that 'Meet Meline' is far more the cliche film than 'Sign Episode 1' It's almost like they were following a checklist instead of a script:

1. Main character is a small child
2. 'Cutesy' exaggerated character animation
3. Over use of currently popular production technique. In this case, 'shaky cam' and depth of field.
4. Nothing really happens in the film; a bunch of random events slapped together. You could do a major edit of 'meet meline', shuffling the middle shots around, and it wouldn't affect the film.
5. A 'surprise twist' ending. This is usually when the kid in the film wakes up from the dream and all the random stuff we just saw are actually all the toys in his room. I have to commend the filmmakers for 'Meet Meline' for not doing this.

Jordan said...

...and I concede the point. "Meet Meline" was certainly predictable. The larger theme of my post, though, is certainly more important. Be careful not to scorn small, detailed aspects of a work of art in favor of grand, epic-scale pieces.

~ J

Tyler Zambori said...

I think both films have problems. In "Meet Meline," they really drag out the "what is he looking at, what kind of creature is this?" thing way too long. That is nto a story in itself.

In "SE1." the animation and production values are just so bad and/or nonexistent that it does interfere with the story, in my opinion.