Here are the links to my final specimen posts.  I chose posts seven (Greeting Cards Turned Animated Series) and ten (History Behind the Chipmunks) to represent my effort in the second half of the semester.  I did not change anything to either post.  Thanks for a great semester!

Web comics are growing in popularity because they can be easily accessed.  These animations are not advertised via commercial, on television, like many animated cartoons; however, they still attract an enormous audience.  This is thanks, in part, to word of mouth.  Often, people stumble across web comics and refer them to their friends via email or social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace.  Homestar Runner, a web comic site, has grown in popularity thanks to word of mouth.

I heard about this website about a week ago thanks to word of mouth.  My boyfriend and his co-worker mentioned it and then actually took it upon themselves to show me the site because I had never heard about it before.  The website, Homestar Runner, has collections of Flash cartoons and is made possible, in large part, to the fans.  The creators are able to keep the site online thanks to merchandise sales which include t-shirts, calendars, bumper stickers, and other things.  So, it is thanks to word of mouth that I am able to talk about my topic this week.  Homestar Runner has a few different web cartoons but I thought it would be nice to focus on “Teen Girl Squad.”

Teen Girl Squad is a web cartoon that effectively portrays teenage girl stereotypes. These stereotypes, of course, are popular/preppy, brainy, gothic, and nerdy.  The girls in the web cartoon were never given actual names.  Instead, the girls are referred to in a nondescript manner “Cheerleader”, “So and So”, “What’s Her Face”, and “The Ugly One.”  The series follows the aforementioned characters, throughout their teenage years, and shows how things progress and change during particular phases of their lives.

The web cartoons I am going to refer to can be found here.  In both middle and high school girls of like types, stick together.  Personally, I remember the popular girls keeping a certain amount of less popular girls around to do their bidding.  They, more or less, would use the less popular girls to boost their self-esteem.  This is made apparent in the comic.  For example, “Cheerleader” announces that it is time to get some summer fashions and tells “What’s Her Face” to go to the thrift store or a junkyard.  Meanwhile, she and the other girls, “So and So” and “The Ugly One,” go to the mall to try on summer fashions.  The cheerleader, or stereotypical popular girl, shunned “What’s Her Face” because she is different.  She appears to fulfill the “gothic” or “outside” role in middle/high school.

The comic also shows how young girls put others down in order to make themselves feel better about their choices.  “Cheerleader” tried on an elephant hat, which she thought was cool and the others told her it wasn’t.  She immediately responded with “well you need boyfriends” and the girls held their heads down and sulked.  It is obvious “Cheerleader” has all the power in this comic which is similar to how my middle/high school experience was.  The popular people seemed to always be on top while the others floundered and prayed they would make it out alive.  The comic was interesting and did a good job of showing stereotypes in school.

I commented on Emily & Myca’s posts this week.

Last week, in class, we screened Toy Story 2 and talked about the growth of Pixar Animation Studios.  We discussed how Pixar has continued to create interesting story lines and make things come alive.  In addition to Toy Story 2, we have previously enjoyed their short Luxor Jr. which portrayed the relationship between parent and child through the use of desk lamps.  As stated before, Pixar makes everything come to life and have an active personality that entrances their viewers.  They always leave us wanting more and I mean that in a good way!  It is because of this that the animation studio has grown like wild fire.  This week I want to draw attention to another one of their shorts by the name of Tin Toy.  The short ties in beautifully with Toy Story 2 because it is about toys.  Also, the short encompasses what we talked about in class.  We were asked what a toy’s worst fear was and many responded with “being broken,” but nobody mentioned getting slobbered on by a baby!  Tin Toy successfully portrays the natural curiosity and simplistic nature possessed by babies.

Seven years before the release of their first full-length feature film Pixar released their fourth animated short entitled Tin Toy.  The short takes place in what appears to be a family’s living room and stars a tin toy named Tinny and a baby named Billy.  Tinny, as you can see in the clip, is a one-man band toy who originally hopes to be played with.  His excitement, however, soon turns into fear after seeing Billy destructively playing with toys.  Billy, like most babies, is curious and puts everything in his mouth.  This particular portion of the short really portrays the curiosity of babies.  In real life you have to keep a constant eye on babies once they learn to crawl because they are explorers and love to put anything they can get their hands on in their mouth.  Pixar captured this innocent inquisitiveness very well.

The next portion of the clip captures how children can find joy from even the simplest of things.  After watching another toy become taste-tested Tinny decides to retreat.  As he ventures off in the opposite direction he makes noise that draws Billy’s attention.  The baby waddles after Tinny and eventually falls when Tinny makes it to safety under the couch.  Under the couch Tinny is joined with several terrified toys that have previously ran from the child.  Billy bursts into tears and Tinny feels obligated to help him and comes out of hiding.  Tinny successfully cheers up the baby but quickly becomes ignored when Billy acknowledges an empty box and a bag (which has the original square logo of Pixar on it).  Billy starts to play with it and shows how easily a child can be entertained.  This holds true to real life because often children like to create their own world and empty containers become morphed into spaceships, castles, and boats.

I thought it was interesting to reflect back on a short that tied in so nicely with what we talked about in class.  Also, reflecting on the short allows everyone to see how far Pixar has come since 1988.  It was interesting to see one of Pixar’s first attempts at animating people.  They have continued to develop greatly in this particular aspect of their drawing.  While, the baby’s personality is captured, its appearance is less aesthetically pleasing in comparison to the toys.  In a way, this adds to Tin Toy because it enhances a sense of fear amongst the playthings.  With that said if you compare Tin Toy to Toy Story you can clearly see the strides Pixar has made when animating people.  The differences between the short and the full-length film are astounding.  The colors are brighter, personalities are stronger, and there is a lot more going on.  During a period of seven years, between the release of Tin Toy and the original Toy Story, Pixar has made an astonishing amount of progress.  The animators at Pixar have successfully been captivating audiences longer than I have been alive which I’m sure is a trend that will continue.

I commented on Bonnie & Danyael’s blogs.

Animation is an art form that has been brought to life through several animation devices.  We commonly think of animation being presented on a big screen, but this was not always the case.  Prior to the creation of the photographic film projector, by the Lumière brothers, animation was viewed differently.  Animation was brought to life through the use of animation devices.  This week, I felt it would be interesting to talk more about some animation devices we’ve learned about in class.  In particular, I will focus on the zoetrope and its successor the praxinoscope. Minute changes between the zoetrope and the praxinoscope vastly improved the viewing experience of animation.

The modern zoetrope was invented in 1833 by William George Horner.  The name derives from the Greek words “zoe” and “tropos.”  The word “zoe” means life and “tropos” means turn.  The zoetrope was cylindrical in shape and had slits cut vertically in the sides.  Inside of the cylinder there were frames of drawings or photographs that would come alive when the device was twirled.  The device was used to form an illusion through a rapid series of still pictures.  In order to use the device you would look through the slits on the cylinder while it twirled.  The pictures would blur together and create the illusion of movement.  The zoetrope’s name is very fitting because it essentially created a sense of life through turning.  The animation device was well received when it debuted, but interest declined after the invention of its successor, the praxinoscope.

The praxinoscope was invented by Emile Reynaud in 1877.  Like most other things animation devices were improved upon.  The creation of the praxinoscope allowed users to see a clearer picture than the zoetrope had.  The toy was set up similarly to how the zoetrope had been.  For example, it was still cylindrical in shape and was lined with images inside.  The viewing slits were taken away and replaced with an inner circle of mirrors.  As the device turned the mirrors helped create a smoother, brighter, and clearer sense of motion than the zoetrope.

Advancements in animation devices are much like advancements in other things.  Gradually, people find ways to improve upon the things we use in everyday life.  The differences between the zoetrope and praxinoscope were very small and yet they created a vast improvement upon the animation viewing experience.  The way animation is created is continually changing.  For example, traditional cell drawing is seemingly being replaced by the less time constraining art of computer animation.  The advancement of technology and ideas are linked directly to the improvement of animation and many other things.  I wonder how we will be viewing our beloved animations in five to ten years.

This week I commented on James & David this week.

Over the weekend I watched Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel with my sister, and thought it would be interesting to learn more about the history behind these loveable chipmunks. I have enjoyed watching and listening to them my entire life. Also, I was curious because I previously learned that the Carebears had an interesting story and wondered if the Chipmunks had an exciting story as well. Turns out, they did! Alvin and the Chipmunks were not originally created for the purpose of animation.

Alvin and the Chipmunks were created as an animated music group by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. in 1958. Bagdasarian and his family were down on their luck financially when he decided to take a chance. According to chipmunks.com, the family only had $200 left and Bagdasarian took $190 of it and purchased a tape recorder. The tape recorder allowed him to change the speeds of the voices he recorded. He wrote the song “Witch Doctor” and experimented with the sound using the recorder. He pitched the song to Liberty Records, which was about to go under, and they decided to give it a shot because the company was quickly fading anyway. The song turned out to be a huge hit and sold more than a million records. Of course, after the success of the first song more songs were requested.

“The Witch Doctor” (song begins around the 2 minute mark)

Bagdasarian then created “The Chipmunk Song.” Prior to this record the chipmunks had remained nameless. It was after the creation of “The Chipmunk Song” that the chipmunks were named Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. They were named after three of the record executives at Liberty Records. The song was released during the holiday season and was another instant hit.

“The Chipmunk Song”

Alvin and the Chipmunks were somewhat created by a fluke. They were created because Bagdasarian was messing around with a tape recorder and took a chance. He went out on a limb hoping that somebody besides his family would see the appeal of his songs. Of course, the songs were received well and a show and eventually movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel were created. The success of the Chipmunks has spiraled and though they’ve changed in appearance over the years their squeaky voices are still perceived the same way.

Cover Song Clip From Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

This week I commented on Amanda & Chris.

What character comes to mind when presented with the words spinach, sailor, tattoos, and strength?  Popeye, of course!  Elzie Crisler Segar’s character, Popeye, is one of the world’s most commonly recognized animated characters.  According to Wikipedia, Popeye “first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929.”  His popularity grew over time and eventually the comic was renamed after this beloved character.  As in most cases, the success of the comic strip transitioned Popeye into an animated character.  Mike Jones has chosen to bring Popeye back into the limelight because he has always been an avid fan and hopes to help create new Popeye fans.

It was recently announced on March 23, 2010 that a new Popeye film may be in the works.  According to fanbolt.com, “[t]he film will be made by Sony Pictures Animation, with Sony Pictures Imageworks handling the CG, the same company that is working on ‘The Smurfs’.”   Mind you, nothing is official as of this moment.  According to contactmusic.com, it would be the first time in thirty years that Popeye would take on the big screen.

As stated before, the details are still on the negotiation table but it is rumored that Avi Arad will produce and Mike Jones hopes to write the script.  According to getthebigpicture.net, “I’m an unabashed, lifelong Popeye fan,” Jones told Variety. “Introducing this squinty-eyed sailor to a new generation also means reintroducing him to those who, like me, grew up with him.” Jones hopes that he can introduce Popeye to younger generations in a successful manner.  In a way you could say that Popeye has been enjoying retirement for thirty years.  Soon, that may change because it seems that he is looking to make a comeback and grab a new seed of fans.

I commented on Samantha Francis & Ian Crawford.

Last week I talked about how the Care Bears were derived from greeting cards.  This week I want to focus on, not where animation originated from, but what it can lead to.  Disney’s The Lion King was released in 1994 and continued to be the highest grossing animated film until Disney and Pixar teamed up to create Finding Nemo.  According to Wikipedia, “The Lion King still holds the record as the highest grossing traditionally animated film in history.”  The Lion King has continued to be very popular because of both its storyline and soundtrack.   The film’s popularity and success led it to crossover and become a major success on Broadway.

In 1997, actors took to the stage in the musical rendition of The Lion King.  The musical version of The Lion King, like the animated film, got rave reviews.  I thought it was very interesting to hear that the first act of the Broadway version is longer than the original animated film.  In order to turn The Lion King into a Broadway production they had to expand the storyline.  The animated film portrayed the Savannah through images.  The musical version still had to make the Savannah come to life but they had to do things differently.  In order to make this production a success the actors had to spark the imagination of their audience.

The actors did a wonderful job and got rave reviews.  According to Newsweek, the musical is considered a “landmark event in entertainment.”  Recently, The Lion King celebrated a milestone of 5,000 live performances.  Disney’s Broadway site says that over 45 million people have watched the musical rendition of the beloved film.  In 1998, the musical won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  In this interview, one guest who watched the musical said “it’s unbelievable that human beings could create such beauty.”  The Broadway production has been translated into many different languages and shown in several countries.  Currently, you can watch the musical in New York City, Las Vegas, or catch the cast when they are on an international tour.

You can watch a sneak peak of the musical here.  To find out more about when you can catch The Lion King on Broadway click here.

This week I commented on TaylorDeMarco.

I chose to resubmit blogs one and four as my midterm specimens.  Blog one was entitled “An Analysis of the Little Mermaid” and blog two was entitled “The Trials and Tribulations of Making Toy Story 3.”  I feel as though these blogs were the most fun to write and that they were the most interesting.  My enthusiasm for both films came across in my writing which I believe is what led these blogs to be two of my more popular blogs.  I did not change anything in either post because I believe they stand on their own as they are.

Specifically, I chose blog post one because I feel it holds an important message.  I strongly feel that nobody should have to change themselves in order to find love.  The post specifically talks about The Little Mermaid and how Ariel sacrifices her voice in order to obtain legs with the hope of finding true love.  I feel the message portrayed in my post is very valuable and that it does not get expressed enough in today’s society.

I chose blog post number four because I thought it was very interesting.  After seeing the trailer for Toy Story 3 I decided I would blog about the upcoming movie and stumbled upon my topic through research.  I, like many of my classmates, did not know there was a dispute between Pixar and Disney.  Personally, I have June 18, 2010 marked in my palm pre calendar.  After writing this post I became even more eager to see how Toy Story 3 turned out.  Learning about the behind the scenes dispute, between Disney and Pixar, sparked my already ignited interest in the upcoming movie even further.

The Care Bears are probably one of the most recognizable set of characters.  Even if you cannot name any of the bears themselves, they are still identified as the Care Bears.  More than likely the majority of you could at least name one of them.  This is because many of us grew up with the Care Bears.  They were very popular during the eighties and seem to be continuing their popularity still to this day.  While researching the Care Bears I came across a historical tidbit I found particularly interesting.  The Care Bears were originally created by American Greetings in 1981.  The Care Bears show us that the roots of animation vary.

Personally, I’ve always equated the Care Bears as an animated children’s television and movie series but that was not their original purpose.  I always figured the series came first and the cards followed but this was not the case with the Care Bears.  The artist Elena Kucharik created these bears to be used on greeting cards for American Greetings.

As the cards grew in popularity a higher demand for these loveable bears was created.  Eventually, two years after the cards were developed, Kenner Toy Company made the characters into stuffed animals for children in 1983.  Each Care Bear has a symbol on their tummy that represents both its task and individuality.  These stuffed toys are still widely available to this day.  Advancements in toy technology have allowed them to light up or sing when squeezed.

Despite the success of the cards and toys it was not until 1985 that the Care Bears television series was launched.  The television series ran for three years from 1985-1988.  Also, during this period of time the Care Bears starred in three animated feature length films.

The Care Bears have gone through many changes as their purpose has developed.  The Care Bear craze does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.  According to Wikipedia, Scholastic Press took things one step further in 2006.  They launched a book series based off the original movies.  Also, the bears were in last years’ Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on a float.  The Care Bears were not originally intended to be an animated series but its success snow balled and it became a franchise.  Animation truly can be created from all sorts of inspiration.

This week I commented on James & Kristina’s blogs.

Movies geared towards children often attempt to teach a lesson.  Often, this lesson revolves around the idea of making the right choices.  However, some children movies teach about different aspects of life.  For example, Disney’s Oliver & Company expresses the differences in New York City class systems through both the animals and people.

No matter where you travel there are different levels of social classes.  Usually, these differences are much less apparent because the classes don’t typically cross paths.  In a city like New York City, however, it is a common affair to cross paths with many different ranks of people.  This is shown quite clearly through the way the different characters, both human and animal, are dressed or fashioned.  Also, their rank is made even more clearly when you compare and contrast their living arrangements.

For example, New York City’s lower class is shown through Dodger, Tito, Einstein, Francis, Rita, and Fagin.  As you can see, from the pictures, both the dogs and their owner Fagin are quite scruffy.  Through their less than clean appearance one can easily tell that they live on the streets or are at the very least struggling to make ends meet.  This clearly represents the bottom of the social class totem pole.  Fagin and his gang of dogs live in a bad part of town and have no money.  Their home, a worn down boat, does not have many things in it because Fagin does not have the means to make purchases.  At the beginning of the movie, Dodger stole sausages so that the dogs would be able to eat.  Later in the movie, Fagin actually munched on a dog biscuit to curb his hunger pains.  Poverty was clearly portrayed through these characters.

Above, there is a picture of  Fagin and a clip.  In the clip above Dodger shows Oliver how to be street smart and steal food to survive.  He represents the lower class who is struggling to survive.

At first, I sat and wondered where the representation of the middle, every day class, fit into the picture.  About midway into the film there is a short scene where a prissy poodle named Georgette sings a song and the normal every day dogs come barking up her tree.  She literally looks down on them from her glamorous balcony and tells them they were barking up the wrong tree.  She basically pegs them as every day dogs.  These dogs were dragging dog houses that were more than likely located in a middle class family’s yard.

The scene above shows both the upper and middle class.

Georgette, the poodle, being the upper class and the other dogs representing the middle class.

Lastly, the upper class is represented by Jenny, her butler Winston, and her snooty five-time champion poodle Georgette.  Jenny is a pristine little girl.  Through the entire movie she is dressed quite nicely.  Though many different classes walk the streets of New York City, Jenny met up with Fagin’s dogs because they tried to hotwire her family’s car.  It’s obvious she has money because she has a driver who doubles as her family’s butler/nanny.  People without money do not have drivers.  Like Jenny, her poodle Georgette fits the role of the rich.  Georgette is a nicely put together dog who easily gives off the stereotypical rich girl snootiness with ease.  And, of course, Jenny’s home is located in the ritzy part of New York City where everything surrounding her home is in immaculate condition.

Here is another representation of the upper class.

Jenny is in her ritzy Upper East Side home working on her piano lessons.

To round things out it is also important to note the difference between the scenes that take place in Jenny’s neighbor versus the scenes that take place in Fagin’s.  The scenes that take place in Jenny’s home, which is on the Upper East Side, have a sense of shimmer to them.  The sun always seems to be shining brighter and the scenes are usually cheerful.  Also, the buildings in her neighborhood are in pristine condition.  The scenes that take place in Fagin’s neighborhood, however, seem much darker.  The color usage in Fagin’s scenes helpfully adds to the sense of despair and hopelessness that Fagin feels because of his situation.  His home, if you could really call it that, is falling apart.  There is very little light in his scenes unless they collide with Jenny’s.

Personally, I think this was a good lesson to teach children.  Not because the world should be divided up into class systems but because of how Jenny treats Fagin and his dogs.  Even though she is a sweet little rich girl she still welcomes them into her home with open arms at the end of the movie.  They all joined her for a birthday party and gave her trash they found around the city.  This movie not only teaches children that there are class systems; it teaches children that class rank should not matter.  Oliver & Company teaches children that kindness has no bounds.

I commented on Christopher DeMarco and Kristina Wade’s blog posts.

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