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View Full Version : NY TIMES: Pipe Down, We're Trying to Watch a Cartoon


RobertoOrtiz
03-20-2006, 01:59 PM
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"In "Robots," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=289664&inline=nyt_ttl) eager young Rodney Copperbottom, on arriving in Robot City, meets Fender, voiced by Robin Williams (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=116900&inline=nyt-per). All the wonder the audience should feel as Rodney beholds the Erector-set metropolis of his dreams is crushed under Fender's nonstop shtick. The characters in "Hoodwinked" natter constantly, even as their unfortunate mouth movements reveal inadequacies in the design of their faces. And if the trailer is any indication, "The Wild," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=328078;158536&inline=nyt_ttl) coming from Disney on April 14, with voices by Kiefer Sutherland (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=69200&inline=nyt-per) and Janeane Garofalo (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=196031&inline=nyt-per), among others, looks like yet another gabfest. "


Silence in animation isn't entirely a thing of the past. Recent films have proved that nonspeaking animated characters can express powerful emotions. When the title character dons a disguise to take her father's place in the army in Disney's underrated "Mulan," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=162682;181549&inline=nyt_ttl) her silence heightens the emotional intensity. The audience sees her wince as a sword slices off her long hair ó words would be superfluous. But the characters in Disney's "Brother Bear" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=282032&inline=nyt_ttl) and "Home on the Range" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=290407;126260;63329;126259&inline=nyt_ttl) never seem to stop talking. "


http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/movies/19solo.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=login

-R

arctor
03-20-2006, 02:49 PM
sorry...this article is useless...
just someone offering a rambling argument that can be made about all films...and the whole reason for the article seems to be for the last few lines which just repeate that Lasseter is now at Disney and all will be well in the world.....

CupOWonton
03-20-2006, 03:10 PM
To sum this up for people who dont want to read the article:
"OH N0000Z! INTENTIONALY FUNNY CARTOONS HAVE DIALOGUE! TOTAL SUXXOR!"

JeroenDStout
03-20-2006, 03:42 PM
Well, I guess it's right that there is way too much fast gabber in anything these days and way too few quiet moments. To paraphrase CupOWonton into my own opinion on the matter:

"OH N0000Z! DER IS A 2 SECOND SILENCE! TOTAL SUXXOR!"

joshmckenzie
03-20-2006, 08:38 PM
I enjoyed reading this article and completely agree - there is simply too much talking in modern animated films. A lot of the talking is often the useless "filler" type of dialogue e.g. the neurotic or insecure lead characters who have to to verbalize every neurotic self-doubting thought that enters their head. Or the comic sidekick/best buddy characters with their rapid-fire delivery of non-stop banter.

Part of the problem seems to be casting comedic actors in roles. What do comedic actors love to do? They love to talk! What do the screenwriters do? They oblige by giving them tons of dialogue. Also, you really sense sometimes that screenwriters would simply be lost if they couldn't fill up screentime with characters talking non-stop.

slaughters
03-20-2006, 08:51 PM
Filling a an action comedy cartoon with - well - action and comedy is not a *bad* thing.

For those who want silence and dramatic moments in a 3D animaed movie just wait for the 3D "Diary of Anna Frank" movie that is coming out (or go watch "Grave of the Fireflies" again)

JTD
03-20-2006, 09:16 PM
I think what the article is trying to point out is that recent big screen animations have been using the same verbal droning technique that morning talk radio stations employ. I have to agree; in my opinion and mine only, I don't find endless chattering funny or necessary. But then again I'm not as sophisticated as some of the people eating up this verbal diarrhea so what do I know?

RobertoOrtiz
03-20-2006, 09:36 PM
I agree that the Animation is by it very definition a visual medium.

I mean if you concentrate so much of what the characters are saying, then you are doing
radio.

Animation can be very moving without any words...

Case in point , Mulan

Want to see some kick ass animation with no dialogue...

Check out the clip in the article at the Disney site
http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/mulan/home.html
, and go to Video Clips/ Movie Clips/ Moment of Truth

The sequence where she cuts her hair to save her father is very powerful and moving.

-R

slaughters
03-20-2006, 09:38 PM
...But then again I'm not as sophisticated as some of the people eating up this verbal diarrhea so what do I know?If you dislike things like stand up commedy acts then most likely you'll dislike the more recent animated commedies as well since they are using very simular techniques.

But hey - since you used the word "diarrhea" in a normal english sentence you can't be all bad :)

JTD
03-20-2006, 09:52 PM
Thanks. I was going for the effect. http://community.the-underdogs.org/smiley/happy/wink4.gif

ilasolomon
03-20-2006, 10:46 PM
Les Triplettes de Belleville!

paintbox
03-21-2006, 11:38 AM
When I happen to see cartoons these days the mindless chatter is really annoying, at last but not least, rarely funny because it usually sounds too forced, imho (of the laugh or we'll shoot-type)

All the classic cartoons didn't need a word (Tom&Jerry, Road Runner, Old disney's) yet are still funny.

Breinmeester
03-21-2006, 03:40 PM
This is a very interesting discussion! :thumbsup:
I agree that animation is mostly a visual medium. My favourite pieces of animation are almost all about conveying emotion with motion, not with dialogue. I have to make a reasonable amount of short animated films at my college and over there there's a consensus of using dialogue only when you need to. On the other hand dialogue can help build the personality of the character. But then again it shouldn't become a mean to personalize your character if you fall short to doing it using motion. I believe that characters that have their personality defined by how they move are stronger characters than characters that are defined by what they say.
Anyone else any thoughts on this??

RobertoOrtiz
03-21-2006, 05:09 PM
This is a very interesting discussion! :thumbsup:
. I believe that characters that have their personality defined by how they move are stronger characters than characters that are defined by what they say.
Anyone else any thoughts on this??

I agree completly. I will mention 3 films that had 3 quiet sequences that touched the soul of the characters and to be honest dialogue would have ruined them.

Ok they are 1 traditional, 1 CG and 1 Anime.

Beauty & the Beast : "The Beast falling Wounded"
Scene where the Beast fights to save Belle in the forest. It showed that he was vulnerable after all.
_______________________________________
Toy Story : "Buzz Last Flight"
Scene in Sid's house where Buzz atempts to fly out the window. He did it AFTER he saw a TV commercial that showed him that he was a toy. In that scene Buzz steals your heart.
_______________________________________
Nausicaš of the Valley of the Winds "Rescuing the Baby OHMU"
Hayao Miyazaki (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0594503/)'s masterpiece. Nausicaa attemps to rescue a baby insect by standing on her glider and maker herself a perfect target to the flying machine gun guarding the injured insect. Powerfull scene and it showed how far she was willing to go for her beliefs.

urgaffel
03-21-2006, 05:23 PM
Another example is Emperors New Groove, the scene where Cuzco and Pacha (sp?) sit at the pond on the morning after and there's this awesome scene of very very awkward silence :) To be fair, it leads into it with dialogue, but I think it would still convey the feeling perfectly even without it.

Smartypants
03-21-2006, 11:27 PM
Maybe the reason why so many American-made animated features rely on dialogue these days has more to do with what filmmakers find funny, and/or what they think their audiences will find funny. Perhaps it's because in our culture, one-liners and jokes told verbally are more commercially successful than humor that relies on physicality and body language.

Also, maybe it has to do with the fact that studios have this idea in their heads that in order to sell tickets to animated films, they have to get big name actors for the voice talent.

Just a couple of thoughts.

pearson
03-22-2006, 12:11 AM
This is a very interesting topic. I know this isn't animation, but it's a good example: on the Cinderella Man DVD, in the director's commentary, Ron Howard reveals that the scene where Braddock says goodbye to his family before the last fight originally had dialog. On a whim they took the dialog out and it was much more powerful. I can't imagine that scene with dialog; it was perfect without it.

I think that the abundance of dialog may stem from the process used by some studios. Some start with a scriptwriter, not storyboards, so puns that would only work visually may be left out. Also, it might have something to do with the ADD generation, who need everything explained and constant dialog and quick cuts to stay focused.
:shrug:

Frank Lake
03-22-2006, 01:26 AM
Verbal diarrhea is what happens when you have a script that is emotionless.
Verbal diarrhea is what happens when you have characterless characters.
Verbal diarrhea is what happens when you has studios pushing out movies that they don't care about and take no pride in.
Verbal diarrhea is what happened when Hollywood wanted things cheap & faster.

rblitz7
03-22-2006, 01:34 AM
I wouldnt say its a problem, its just the current trend in animated films which might or might not go away. Its all up to the director and he decides what kind of movie he wants to make.

Leionaaad
03-22-2006, 12:31 PM
Nobody said anything about Ice age: we have this Sid, who never stops talking
and so is the donkey from Shrek.

JTD
03-22-2006, 01:42 PM
In some cases it works. I like Sid, not so much Donkey. But the point is the overuse of constant chatter. It doesn't work for every single cartoon character and shouldn't be used excessively. Everything in moderation:

a beer every night = good
48 beers every night = bad

sun tan = good
sun tan that is so dark it leaves pale shadow lines all over your face = bad

winning the lottery = good
winning the lottery along with 28,000 other people = bad

dilipale
03-22-2006, 02:08 PM
Interesting debate.

At the risk of sounding like a fence sitting politician, I think there is room for both styles. However, I favour the less is more approach myself. Some of the most emotional, thought provoking, and funny animation I've seen has been dialogue free. These films also tend to be shorts that are not subject to the same commercial pressures features are under. Sadly, if you took away the witty banter from some animated movies there really would be no reason left to watch them!

From an animation point of view, dialogue can be a very comfortable crutch for animators. Dialogue gives you so much structure, beats and hook points to hang your animation on, that some can be lost without it.

CupOWonton
03-22-2006, 03:57 PM
Verbal diarrhea is what happens when you have a script that is emotionless.
Verbal diarrhea is what happens when you have characterless characters.

Go jump in your wayback machine and tell that to Shakespear.

robcat2075
03-22-2006, 06:07 PM
Talk isn't necessarily bad. I think we're all pleased with "Ah-ha, pronoun trouble!" and all the dialog that led up to it.

But I'm sure television is a big factor. The moviemakers and audiences are all accustomed to shows that are crafted to remain intelligible even if you don't follow the screen.

Related note... In one of the AnimationMentor lectures this quarter, an animator mentioned that sound editors were starting to add vocal sounds and interjections where none had been animated because they were afraid to leave a character silent for very long.

Capel
03-22-2006, 09:15 PM
Go jump in your wayback machine and tell that to Shakespear.

ok, now that was funny.

Bentagon
03-23-2006, 10:24 PM
The great thing about that Mulan clip Roberto (I think?) linked to, was not just that the whole clip was without dialogue... it was that what happened before didn't have that line where she'd say "I'm gonna take my father's place!" Nor does anyone else say what she's done after that. We don't need it.

The thing with Sid was that the other characters were silent enough to have pauses... and then what Sid would say would make it funny! Like when you have an "uncomfortable silence" and then suddenly someone makes a stupid oneliner joke. He's not really trying to express what he feels through what he is saying.

I've heard in monsters inc there was one scene where they had a few lines saying something to eachother, and when the animator got it assigned, he just animated a sort of shrug, and it totally worked, so they cut the dialogue.

yann22
03-24-2006, 11:41 AM
Seems that in wondrous turn of events the animation industry is trying to emulate the style of Eric Rohmer

:D

RobertoOrtiz
03-24-2006, 01:20 PM
The great thing about that Mulan clip Roberto (I think?) linked to, was not just that the whole clip was without dialogue... it was that what happened before didn't have that line where she'd say "I'm gonna take my father's place!" Nor does anyone else say what she's done after that. We don't need it.

.

The scene works becuase the actions showed that the character of Mulan the idea of risking her life to keep her father alive was a no brainer. For example, if a character was standing up to a bully, what would be more powerful:

A) Having the character crack jokes as he is getting hit by him?
b) Having the character just stand up over and over again , and refuse to budge, after he is
being hit?


The thing with dialogue is that it entailes a thinking process, some might say a pause in the thinking pattern of a character.
In my opinin silent actions entails a more intimate process, where you are getting a glimse of the soul of a character.

By Mulan just suiting up, (and there was not single scene in that movie that forewarns us that she is even contemplating this) it shows us, how deep her love for her father is.

-R

Breinmeester
03-24-2006, 02:37 PM
Exactly. And in both examples you used, the character keeps his/her idea to him/herself when he/she doesn't speak it out. It makes the character a lot more determined and the goal much more personal.
Characters feel strong when we have to trail back the emotions or thoughts that anticapated their actions, because the character not only thinks for itself, but it also thinks ahead of us (the audience) when it isn't 'thinking out loud' (keeping the audience on track by speaking out its ideas).
In this context it also works well when the animator contrasts the anticapated thought. Example: a 16 years old girl comes home late after a night out with the girls. She sneaks in, but we know her father has been sitting in the dark for a couple of hours waiting for her. When the father confronts his daughter by flicking on the lights we expect him to get very angry, but instead he says nothing at all and goes to bed.
Because his reaction/thought is in contrast with what we anticapated, the fact that he is a real character that thinks for himself is highlighted.

Zarathustra
03-24-2006, 02:58 PM
Here's the issue: Most of the stars voicing these films have kids. They need tons of voiceovers so their brood can have ample opportunities to enjoy hearing them in the film (and in case they're not that sharp, plenty of chances to figure out their parent is in it).

tevih
03-24-2006, 06:09 PM
I often get tired of the neurotic rambling characters. I couldn't stand marlin in finding nemo, hated ben stiller in madagascar - but it's not to say I hate all rambling. I was in stitches with robin williams' quick banter in robots, and I loved mike in monsters.

Stupid to say a "type of character" is bad and is found too often in a certain type of film. It's not any more often than other films (ben stiller always plays that neurotic guy), and it depends on the character, the story and the acting to make it work or not work.

I didn't bother reading the article.

Nemoid
03-24-2006, 07:50 PM
To me , the best non talking character is Wile E Coyote ! the eternal looser. :D
episodes of that Cartoon are masterpieces of timing, and no one speaks. Jones used timing so well he didn't need voices for this character, and Wile himself would have been a very different (worse) character if he talked.

p.s.
i remember when i saw that masterpiece episode, in which the Roadrunner ends up to be in a little corner of a huge mountain. the rock starts to break, so....................................
all the rest of the mountain falls down and the little corner with Roadrunner remains exactly at the same place !

what's phisics after all. :)

Kurtis
03-24-2006, 10:38 PM
Nobody said anything about Ice age: we have this Sid, who never stops talking
and so is the donkey from Shrek.

Correct me if I'm wrong, it has been a while since I've seen it.

One of the most moving parts of Ice Age is the cave drawing sequence with the mammoth family. I don't recall their being any actual dialog in that sequence, just some sound effects.

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