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Aaaand.. pause.
November 28, 2011 8:31 AM   Subscribe

What happens when you stop time in a cartoon universe? You get animation smears. (single-serving Tumblr)
posted by theodolite (24 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not sure I understand this
posted by zeoslap at 8:33 AM on November 28, 2011


Seems pretty clear:
In live-action films, motion blurs are natural occurrences.

In animation, you have to make them from scratch.

And most of them are pieces of art by themselves.
posted by DU at 8:37 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the site: "In live-action films, motion blurs are natural occurrences. In animation, you have to make them from scratch. And most of them are pieces of art by themselves."
posted by bentley at 8:37 AM on November 28, 2011


See also sculptor Peter Jansen's fairly amazing works.
posted by bz at 8:40 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also sculptor Peter Jansen's fairly amazing works.

Sesame Street!
posted by DU at 8:41 AM on November 28, 2011


Isn't there also a Chinese artist who explores this through sculpture? I seem to remember an installation piece that involves a motion series of wolves charging head-long into a wall.
posted by codacorolla at 8:41 AM on November 28, 2011


Guy really likes his Spongebob.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:52 AM on November 28, 2011


"Head On" by Cai Guo-Qiang, codacorolla, but it doesn't seem to be conceptually the same.
posted by dhartung at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


David Bordwell wrote a nice article on this sort of thing in Disney cartoons and Kristin Thompson later penned a post on smears in Warner Brothers cartoons, dedicated to Bob Clampett.
posted by mkb at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Guy really likes his Spongebob.

The Spongebob screenshots reminded me of Spengbab (Know Your Meme, possibly NSFW). (Google Images, potentially safer-for-work)
posted by ardgedee at 9:11 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had to more or less figure this out on my own when I started working on animation... I knew that the movements of my characters were way too stiff. I studied some old Chuck Jones cartoons and freeze-framed my way through some sequences. There were the smears! I mean, I sort of knew that this was done but I'd never had to dissect the idea. Their purpose in the Jones stuff was immediately obvious. So I put a couple together and worked them into my animations, and wow! Big difference.

Can't easily do it with 3D, though.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:12 AM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anthony Ausgang, has been making horror-cartoon paintings along these lines for years. (Previously)
posted by ardgedee at 9:25 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess it's just too easy to survive from day to day when people start having time to write blogs about things like this.

Wow.
posted by LoudMusic at 9:44 AM on November 28, 2011


This is also what happens when you stop time in reality too.
posted by crunchland at 9:53 AM on November 28, 2011


I'm really racking my brain trying to remember where it was, but I remember some cartoon that made a joke about these. It showed two dogs fighting (the standard puff of smoke with random legs poking out of it) and then when they stopped fighting, they both had extra legs, or maybe each other's legs, poking out of their bodies at weird angles.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:57 AM on November 28, 2011


Nu descendant un escalier
posted by Tom-B at 9:58 AM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm fond of the gorilla with four nostrils.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:13 AM on November 28, 2011


There is a point in every animator's life where they discover the insane glory of the Smear. Of the Multiple Image. And for a few months, it's all they can see. It's all they want to draw. Every scene, no matter how small and quiet it is, needs to have a smear found somewhere in it. They start covering bigger and bigger chunks of spacetime with one information-dense drawing, pushing the limits of what the human eye can process in 1/24 of a second. It's a compelling thing.

Because, in a way, drawing these things is a distillation of the entire craft of animation into a single image. There's an intoxicating joy in crafting this one drawing that nobody will ever notice unless they single-step your work, and making it an insane abstracted masterpiece that puts several disjointed but related moments on display at once.

Me, I burnt out on the industry. But I'm doing an action-filled comic, and I revel in drawing every single glorious smear I can find in it. Grab that slice of time, freeze it, and throw it up there on the screen. Once you've seen the Smear, you can never go back. Study it long enough and it transforms your understanding of the entire world.
posted by egypturnash at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


I once worked as a production assistant (read: gopher) for an animation-based video game. I remember looking at the sprites that our animators produced for the various bad guys and being completely amazed by these "smears." The animator was fond of enemies with larger-than-life abilities, like giant sledgehammers appearing out of nowhere behind a character's back. The smear was the key to making this impossibility appear completely natural.

After all this time it's nice to know the name of the technique.
posted by rouftop at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see... kinda cool.
posted by zeoslap at 1:26 PM on November 28, 2011


One of my favorite examples of the smear can be seen throughout Chuck Jones' The Dover Boys, especially in the animation for Dan Backslide. Funny stuff!
posted by biddeford at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2011


Less SpongeBob, more Ren and Stimpy, please.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:04 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Biddleford, your favorite example of the smear is also commonly considered its first use!

Here's John K breaking down a couple scenes in it. Complete with lots of stills of those glorious, glorious smears.
posted by egypturnash at 8:51 PM on December 1, 2011


The creator is Michael Ruocco; he's got a blog here.

LoudMusic: "I guess it's just too easy to survive from day to day when people start having time to write blogs about things like this.

Wow
"

Dude's a professional animator and probably runs across many such images every week while doing research. Plus since the blog's gotten more popular he's started receiving tons of submissions from readers.

But questions of posting mechanics aside, why treat this as worthless? Each image encapsulates a fascinating perceptual trick in a visually striking way -- pretty much a work of art in itself. If it were a blog full of photos of actuarial tables, say, or David Coullier, I might understand, but this is hardly something that deserves shitting all over.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:58 PM on December 3, 2011


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