The Collapse of a Rejected Universe

Hello, students and colleagues of the NTU Animation course, and any wayward soul who might have stumbled upon this blog!  Here you will find interesting news/articles/links/tidbits relating to our course, ideas for papers, thoughts on animation and the culture that surrounds it, questions for you to ponder or engage if you so wish, and other assorted nonsense.  Having only ever used traditional methods in my own practice, as I grapple with learning animation software, I may even post bits of the work I produce.

Even though I grew up in the wonderful world of Disney and I love The Simpsons enough to have thought about nothing but the series for four years during my PhD studies*, it was don hertzfeldt‘s Rejected that first really drove home for me that, in animation, you really can make anything happen on the screen.



His films also reassured me that one doesn’t have to be a great (or even particularly good) illustrator to make excellent, Oscar-worthy animated films.  Though he’s no Cecilia Giménez, hertzfeldt has a distinct style and a keen instinct for timing and performance; in this can be found a valuable lesson for those who wish to animate but feel limited by their drawing abilities.  Even though his characters are essentially stick figures, hertzfeldt’s style is unmistakable.  He has always rejected offers to produce work for advertising (given his oeuvre, he was so baffled by these offers that he was inspired to create Rejected as a satirical response), so some advertisers have simply paid someone else to try—and fail?  You be the judge—to replicate his style.

In their minimalist singularity, hertzfeldt’s films demonstrate both the limitlessness of the medium of animation and the astonishing results that  can be produced—even by one person working nearly entirely alone—when they are determined to explore, be innovative within and understand that medium.  He exploits not only the possibilities of animation, but of film as a whole.  He also exploits all of his own talents; he does many of the voices and narrations in his films, and as a classically trained pianist, he also sometimes provides the scores.  As he stated in a Q&A, he’s someone who will avoid throwing any tools out of the toolbox, and he’s clearly someone who will use the tools that are there.

So that brings me to my first question: what first inspired you to animate?

*To be fair, I don’t really think about much other than The Simpsons any of the time.