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> Some photos at the Lux jan. 27 2007


Motion Design Vs. Film

The Lux, formely known as le Crac, reopened its doors this month in Valence, France as a new interdisciplinary centre for exploration in moving image. Its aim is to present the public with a range of screenings, dedicated festival activities and pedagogical events for greater awareness and understanding of the contemporary scene in the domain. Film, danse, music, installations are all catered for under one house with a slant towards the digital and new.

This week end marked the end of their first seance with screenings from Onedotzero, a student workshop on mobile motion design, a VJ evening with Superscript and an open panel discussion on Motion Design vs. Film. Shane R. Walter, director of Onedotzero, Adrian Shaughnessy, graphic designer, critic and writer, H5, the Parisien based design studio and Dimitri Granovsky, strategic manager for Imagina Festival fed us their thoughts on the present day situation. Without dwindling on formal definitions for either film or motion design, (indeed some refusing outright to box in a cultural movement with terminology), the panel were quick off the mark to reveal some fascinating points. Adrian Shaughnessy had no hesitation in stating that motion design is something very new which has broken away from formal film tradition. In fact it has little to do with film in his opnion, its syntax drawing more from a graphic design background and theory. Shane R. Walter adds to this, refering to an essay written in Motion Blur, ‘End of Celluoid’ (Onedotzero 01 Catalogue,1997) which caused outrage amongst the cinephiles of London town at the time of publishing. The reference is provocative yet pertinent to how many perceive the current creative forces both politically and aesthetically. We are more and more in a World of “nanotainement”, to quote from Shane, where we are used to short bursts of visual information and entertainment. Although short creative pieces may lack the epic drawn out drama or comedy of a feature length film, it does appear that the big productions are becoming rarer and rarer in terms of quality or interest for the spectator. [Even people in the industry are getting bored of the ever present 3D rendering, predictable narratives or animal characterization in animation features]. Moreover and more importantly, production is moving into the hands and abilities of anyone with inspiration to create. A democratic digital culture is on the rise.

The studio H5 took a more economic view, stating the fact that technology became so much more cheaper and accessible that instead of blowing budgets on live action clips, they turned to animation as a technique rather than as an aesthetic. However, their graphic design background has served them well, a practice that infuses their work with new readings and a particular style. They were eager to underline the importance of traditional film form, paying particular attention to telling a good story. This is where the discussion could have been taken further. The question of narration is so embedded in film, yet it is not necessarily a prerequisite in motion design. In fact, I would go as far as to say that motion design is much more abstract and that narration – meaning plot and character development – is practically non existent in pure motion design. This, however was not apparent in the discussion. Dimitri Granovsky is convinced of the essentials of narration – it is the vital essence of the moving image culture and needs to be nurtured. But how ? If it simply is just a question of adapting what has been mastered in film to an animated film script, then surely we are doing nothing new or innovative – and dare I say this is not motion design. There is an obvious difference between film and motion design but where do we draw the line between animated film/feature length cartoon and motion design ? Or rather, why is their a tendency to consider animation (as a genre) and even cartoon as motion design ?

Some Quotes :

“Now that we’ve learnt the language, what have we got to say ?”, S. R. Walter

“It is a new democratic mouvement”, A. Shaughnessy

“The technique has been mastered. Maybe now we are going to work on the content”, D. Granovsky

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