[AB 12] Basic Animation Aesthetics

by David O’Reilly

O’Reilly bases his arguments on his previous works’ successful reception. He discusses the elements that contribute to capturing a more unified kind of animation aesthetic that works. Firstly, O’Reilly establishes that there are elements contribute to producing poor aesthetics that result in unprofessional and disengaging outcomes. Instead of aiming to produce a refined, realistic and perfected animated short, O’Reilly emphasizes on coherence in the aesthetic. The world that is created for the animation, the values, laws and models of worlds can be crafted to make sense, be arbitrary and artificial as long as they are kept consistent. In O’Reilly’s words it is ‘just as a lie repeated often enough becomes truth’. The essay also raises the issues in rendering time along the production pipeline and other complications that can discourage individual film makers. In order to achieve this convenience, using simple geometry was used, contributing to the animated short’s aesthetic. O’Reilly concludes with a significant point that the key to originality is knowledge of aesthetics. As aesthetic choices are examined, it directs and furthers new methods of thinking and generating ideas.


O’Reilly, David. (2009) Basic Animation Aesthetics. N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.


[AB 11] Hyper-Realistic Characters and the Existence of the Uncanny Valley in Animation Films

by Fethi Kaba.

In this article, Kaba examines the paradox in animation as it faces developing a realistic aesthetic. When animation draws nearer to hyper-realism, that induces an unsettling aesthetic questioning the believeability of the animation, hence the uncanny valley. The concept of the uncanny was first introduced in a psychological approach, then applied to the production of human-like robots. Masahiro Mori published in 1970 of “the uncanny valley” that referred to these robots that has become the subject discussed in animation, defining the uncanny valley by how “people are usually upset when faced with some phenomenon it cannot represent… I have noticed that, as robots appear more humanlike, our sense of their familiarity increases until we come to a valley”.

Kaba uses two examples as a comparison for what is the uncanny valley and what is still acceptable that is ‘The Polar Express’ and ‘The Incredibles’. The character design of ‘The Incredibles’ represents more of a traditional cartoon form as opposed to ‘The Polar Express’. According to Tid Newton, he states in animation it takes a bit of exaggeration to make something look convincing.

With this in mind, the article is useful in understanding how certain aesthetics are more successful than others.


KABA, Fethi (2013) Hyper-Realistic Characters and the Existence of the Uncanny Valley in Animation Films, International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp.188-195

[AB 10] Computers in Human Behaviour – The Attention-guiding effect and cognitive load in the comprehension of animations

This research paper investigates the effects of exposure to animation on learning. A hypothesis was proposed and an experiment was carried out. The study investigated the impact of cueing on cognitive load and comprehension of animations depicting a dynamic process in a neurobiology domain. Cueing in this case consisted of zooming in important information at each stage of the process. The results were discussed and the extraneous cognitive load (the amount of stimulation) was reduced by cueing. Cueing has achieved higher problem solving scores. The article highlights the importance of presentation and the method of drawing the attention of the viewer. This presents different potential techniques based on cueing, experimenting with colour and lighting to capture attention.


AMADIEU F., MARINÉ C. & LAIMAY C. (2011) Computer in Human Behaviour – The attention-guiding effect and cognitive load in the comprehension of animations, Computers in Human Behaviour 27, pp 36-40

[AB 09] The Animation Manifesto or, What’s Animation Ever Done for Us?

by Paul Wells

The pressing concern that Paul Wells addresses is that animation is not celebrated in its own right, only rather acknowledged because it is recognized for the narrative’s success. There is a general conception that the animation industry is restricted by the boundaries of it being for family entertainment. With this narrow perception of animation, Wells questions in the Monty Python style: what’s animation ever done for us?

He addresses the issue that audiences do not engage in the potential of adult content in animation, rather it has been stigmatized as family entertainment. Wells helpfully proposes a manifesto for animation. He describes how animation is a versatile cross-platform and cross-disciplinary medium, an artform that consistently and insistently experiments and develops. Ultimately, animation should be more recognised for its achievements and impacts that it contributes in the contemporary world.

Wells demonstrates through numerous examples of how animation has impacted the creative industry and on a deeper level the minds and attitudes of people. The article is useful in my practice and attitudes to understanding what animation is, creating a firm foundation and identity of the potential of the animation industry.


WELLS P. (2015) The Animation Manifesto or, What’s Animation Ever Done for Us? Metro Magazine 188 ATOM: p.94-100

[AB 08] Review of a Short Animated Film, Wolf Daddy Directed by Hyung Youn Jang

By Jee Eun Lee and TakHoon Kim.

This review of the short story is successful in considering the previous works of the director, also listing the potential limitations of the review. Through examining the cultural background of the film, that is in Korea and comparing it to the director’s previous films, it allows a deeper understanding of the director’s thought process and to propose directions for releasing a successful film.

The journal article discusses the success of the short film and how it relates to Korean culture. Typically, Korean animated films aim to visually express subjects of real world problems such as agony and suffering as this allows for a high emotions and sympathy to be evoked. Humor is more challenging to evoke such emotions to hook the audience of this culture. Wolf Daddy is a short film that contains a kind of uncanny humor that appears to have been the driving force of the success. The article continues to discuss about the considerations and approaches that should be instigated as the short film is preparing to be developed into a feature film.

Through the examination of the culture, previous films of Hyung Youn Jang and understanding the rules of nature in the world being portrayed in the short film, it is possible to suggest possible directions. The short film is an appropriate example of a type of uncanny aesthetic that demonstrates the true nature of animals rather than fully anthropomorphising them.


LEE J. & KIM T. (2014) Review of a Short Animated Film, Wolf Daddy Directed by Hyung Youn Jang. TechArt: Journal of Arts and Imaging Science. [Online] 1(3) p.5-7. Available from: http://www.thetechart.org/default/img/articles/201403/Jee.pdf [Accessed 23/10/16]

[AB 07] ‘Movements that are drawn’: A history of environmental animation from The Lorax to FernGully to Avatar

By Nicole Starosielski.

The article by Starosielski offers a detailed and thorough analysis of appropriate examples that demonstrate the different periods of the practice that are continuously transformed. Starosielski states that animation within the realm of environmental communication have yet to be addressed within the study of environmental media as there is a preference for news and documentary. Environmental animation is defined in the article as a genre of environmental media that uses animation form to intentionally construct knowledge of social and ecological processes that affect us or the characters.  Furthermore the article proposes that the animation’s ability to expose the viewer to imperceptible environments and produces three outcomes for representational practice: the visualization of environmental mutability, representation of environmental interaction and the environment as a construct.

To conclude, Starosielski has covered three waves of environmental animation and has discussed what would be the next steps for consideration and how animation industry can increase awareness for filmmakers to implement engagement between environment interactions. This is useful to explore ideas of interaction between environments and with characters.


Starosielski, Nicole. (2011) ‘Movements That Are Drawn’: A History of Environmental Animation from The Lorax to FernGully to Avatar. The International Communication Gazette 73(1-2), pp. 145-63.

[AB 06] The Mastery Machine: Digital Animation and Fantasies of Control

By Mihaela Mihailova.

In the article by Mihaela Mihailova, discusses the relation between the animator’s desire for a godlike persona as depicted in Peter Lord’s 1991 pre-digital Claymation short film Adam. The creator’s absolute control over the draw images was the ultimate goal of control. However, due to the up rise of the digital age, this ‘godlike persona’ has been overshadowed by the rise of the machine. The omnipotent creator has not evolved into the fantasy of the omnipotent technology. Mihailova concludes “we no longer dream about omnipotent creators – we dream about omnipotent creators and their omnipotent machines”. This idea is linked with the undead media, whereby Sven Lutticken discusses the use of more traditional techniques to be a secondary tool to the creation of animation, as the primary drive is through digital technologies. The computer-generated animation represents the promise of reclaiming a sense of control – both from technology and over technology. Mihailova addresses the vital role animation plays in other modes of cultural production due to the proliferation and cross-pollination of digital media. It is useful in understanding the animator’s possible attitudes and their perception and utilisation of the mediums they use to produce their works.


Mihailova, Mihaela. (2013) The Mastery Machine: Digital Animation and Fantasies of Control, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal 8(2), pp. 131-48.