(The following post (especially the second part) is quite a bold for a newcomer and outsider like me, so please bear with me. It has to be said… It is in no way offensive)

Although I am not a true part of the animation blog community it seems to me that there is quite some controversy going on. This seems especially true regarding the question “screenwriting or storyboarding?” as you can read here, here and here.

This is indeed some interesting stuff going on in this community but I believe that it not only misses the important part but also help to hide one even some more important points that seem to be forgotten.

Scriptwriting or Storyboarding?

One thing is for sure: the cartoon in its classic form is a hell of a visual medium. There are exaggerations everywhere as well as funny poses, weird expressions and even more.

But in the end, I believe that all that doesn’t matter. Why? Because in the end everything that is a movie/film/series is visual. The only difference is the way it is presented.

I can understand why many animators say that a cartoon or animation in general should be created mainly on a storyboard as animation is indeed a very visual style of film. There is really almost no way someone can truly and faithfully describe all those stretches and other crazy visual stuff going on. But does this matter?

For me visual gags are not the main element of a good cartoon. Indeed some might argue otherwise but for me it is only the added bonus. For me, the most important thing for an animation is the story. Not the funny things we see, but the underlying story that weaves everything together and gives us more than gags alone.

In this regard I consider storyboarding the second step after the script has been written. Why? Because in the scriptwriting stage you have nothing with which you can compensate the lack of a good story. On a storyboard you can have thousands of extremely funny drawings, on paper you have nothing else than words to bring something to life. If you are successful with that everything else will only make something great even better. Hence everything visual will be a wonderful added bonus.

But I also get the slight impression (correct me if I am wrong) that the discussion is going into a completely wrong direction.

What’s missing in western animation today…

In the last four to six weeks I have read some big number of posts regarding cartoons and animation. One thing that I noted besides the fact that most posts are a great read is the fact that almost everybody seems to be living in the past.
All those analyses of animation, color and composition, and all the discussions going on indicate that almost a whole industry is living in the golden age of animation. Or at least wants to be. When the stories were minimalistic and the animation wonderful.

Please don’t get me wrong when I say this but please get over it already. We don’t live in the early or middle 20th century anymore; we are living in the 21st century. Of course the animation principles still apply as well as composition and everything else. But do you think you can be innovative when you analyze everything that’s between 40 to 60 years old? Don’t you think it is time to move on and look around at things that are being made today? Don’t you think it is time again to be innovative?

I know you are a truly creative bunch of people. So please give me something that is not only good but also modern. Find new stories. Find new principles and ideas. Get the guts to be experimental.

I have stated it in the past and state it again. In comparison to Japanese animation and their ideas of story and animation most western animation looks bland and boring. And it is a shame because western animation could be top notch if it wants to be (perhaps this already happened and I simply missed it?).

If you want to know what I am talking about go to Youtube and watch the beginning of FLCL (Fooly Cooly), a Japanese series consisting of six episodes (note: the beginning is truly only the beginning, it gets crazier). When I first watched this thing it blew my head off. It was an eye opener for me. Crazy yet consistent and layered story, wonderful characters, great and serious moments, kinetic action, new kinds of visual jokes. It was almost as if someone opened the door and showed me a world of truly innovative animation that for me even surpassed every live action comedy.

This is the kind of modern animation you should strive for. Take the past and remodel it to something new. Find new audiences, find new demographics. Don’t strive for kids only.

In other words: please get you act together and be modern, deep, older, fresh, freaky, crazy and the more. You can do it. I know it. And I am the first one to watch it.

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