watching with jaded eyes

Sometimes I wonder if, in my line of business, everyone has chosen to stay within their own glass bubble – refusing to acknowledge the rest of the world.

Why I’m bringing this up is, I am getting weary of people working within CG immediately assuming that everyone else sees things the way they do – and appreciates things for the same reason and from the same point of view. I understand that within reason, we’ll all understand the hard work (or lack thereof) behind a picture or movie better if we actually KNOW what’s involved… but that doesn’t mean we should judge the finished result solely based on that knowledge.

When someone who has worked on a movie watches another movie, they’ll see little details the uninitiated might miss. If they’re a 3D animator, they’re likely to notice any mistakes in the animation – as well as ingenious things that someone else might never notice. When they’re looking at artwork within their own genre, they might stomp on something beautiful because they don’t like the way it is made, or alternatively – applaud something that looks merely mediocre, because it was created in such a complicated, clever manner. Their eyes, it seems, have turned inwards and they’re no longer looking at things the way the rest of the world see them – they’re just seeing their own version.

The same goes for my kind of people – the 2D artists. We’re not so much looking at the finished result as what we consider the interesting bits. A piece of art might be admired and loved not because it is beautiful or because it is genuine, but because of how it was made. Technique over content, I suppose, in a way that makes a lot of the pieces now created – in both 2D and 3D – dull in the eyes of someone who is not initiated.

In my eyes, a painting, a movie or a piece fails to a great degree if someone who doesn’t know the techniques doesn’t find it interesting. Similarly, if you’re in the CG business and you see a movie with special effects – and you spot a few mistakes… this does not make the movie the ‘worst ever made’ (an expression I see increasingly frequently connected with movies I love, simply because there’s some piece of special effects that isn’t up to par) – in fact, as far as the movie itself is concerned, I don’t think the special effects affect the content much at all. They do not make or break a movie. The technique does not forgive an awful plotline and it doesn’t ruin a wonderful story.

I’ll take a random quote here from someone in a discussion about Disney’s The Wild:

“Disney took the soul out of animation, turned it into a money machine, and people hated them for it.”

Now. This is how many CGartists feel. Please tell me – who else feels that Disney has taken the soul out of animation? Me, I thought they pretty much put animation on the map. That they’ve created a LOT of wonderful children’s movies and that while they do release some flawed movies, that’s the case of any movie company. Yes, Disney is huge and slow the way any gigantic corporation is, but has Disney taken the soul out of animation?


I was similarly shocked after having seen King Kong – and read some CGartists reviews that stated that the compositioning in King Kong was the worst they’d ever seen?

Say what? Think what you want about the movie itself, but how can the work on King Kong possibly be worse than, say, Xena the Warrior Princess?

Anyway, I am digressing. What I’d like to see is people watching the actual finished result with fresh eyes, rather than condemning with their bitter business gaze. A painting is beautiful because it’s beautiful, not because someone has used only a mouse when completing it or did it all in MS Paint. The digital effects in a movie might not be as amazing as, say, what WETA did for Lord of the Rings – but that doesn’t mean that the movie itself is horrible. I understand that it’s fun to focus on the technique since digital art is such a technical medium, but enough is enough. I’m going to try to leave my bitter eyes behind the next time I watch a movie. I’ll try to see it for what it is. I’ll attempt to look at paintings, from now on, not as results of techniques but as finished, possibly wonderful things.

I suggest that others in my line of work try the same thing. Maybe we’ll discover new and wonderful things – or at least rediscover a sense of wonder that we’ve lost along the way.