Out of the Inkwell and into the Waking Life

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  • Topic: Animation, Waking Life, Animated cartoon
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  • Published : October 2, 2010
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Out Of The Inkwell and into the Waking Life:
Analytical Report


Introduction Objective

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Where it all started Max Fleischer and the invention of rotoscope Rotoscope Koko’s birth After roto The “interpolation” of rotoscope Technological advancements Roto tools The making of “waking life” Animation does the trick

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2006, film editing class, on Valentine’s Day, “...a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” (Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind)

A Scanner Darkly, Renaissance, some words resonated though my daydreaming state. Had my teacher, not written them down on the whiteboard as he spoke, they would have stayed just that - words.

“Renaissance” was the first one I watched. “A scanner Darkly” followed. I was left hungry for more. That’s when I stumbled upon “Waking life”. Take impressed, “multiply it by infinity and take it to the depths of forever and you still have only a glimpse” (Meet Joe black) of how I felt. I was hooked.

I had so many questions: How were they made? Who came up with it? Why was it done that way? These films not only captured my attention due to the fascinating animation, but also instilled my interest in visual effects. I had a dream! I wanted to master the technique that was used to make these films. It was then that I started my research. Objective The main objective of this report is to assess two creative works from different centuries and analyze why these works could not have been created at a different time and place. I also hope that it will facilitate the familiarity of my fellow students (and others interested), with a widely used and very important technique in postproduction and 2D film animation.

The two works I chose for my analysis are Max Fleischer’s “Out of the Inkwell” and Richard Linklater’s film “Waking Life”. Although I am mainly describing a technique, it is what these two works have in common. I think that my choice of works is quite relevant not only to my field of study, but also in concordance to each


other. They complement each other in the most direct way. Even though they have been made for different audiences, at different time, for different purposes, bearing different subjects, one was practically born out of the other. A technique was born during the making of one of them and - after being refined, improved and technically modernized - extensively used in the other. It is interesting to observe how things have progressed since the technique was invented.

In order to be able to analyze my selected works, I must swiftly ‘brush through’ the history and founders of animation. Where it all started Most of the time when we hear the words Animated Cartoons we think: Disney. We know little, if anything about the thirty years of creativity and experimentation before Disney, flourishing in such extraordinary work as “Felix the Cat” and “Girdie the Dinosaur”. The presently renowned “Mickey Mouse” meant nothing then and conjured up no sentiment whatsoever. Meanwhile, the word “Felix”, would have probably send an impulse through most living in that time.

It all began on March 12, 1896 when James Stuart Blackton, a journalist for the New York Evening World, was sent to interview Thomas Edison (an American inventor and businessman). During the interview, Blackton made some quick sketches. Edison was so impressed by Blackton’s drawing skills that he invited him to appear before his newly developed motion picture camera.

It was this collaboration that led to the foundation of Edison’s Vitagraph Company, which was later, in 1924, bought by the Warner Brothers. The Enchanted Drawing (1900), followed by Humorous Phases (1906) and Lightning Sketches (1907), were Blackton’s first experiments. But these could hardly be ranked as actual animated cartoons.

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