Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Gobelins, l’école de l’image

As a precursor to my review of the latest batch of movies from the Gobelins School I thought it pertinent to note one or two reservations others have about their style of animation. Readers of the Animation Blog will be in no doubt of my high regard for their work but it is conceded that there is an undoubted family resemblance in their films. Bryon Caldwell’s very readable blog, Animopus, acknowledges that the “clean, professional, and polished”, the “snappy” editing and, indeed the primacy of the school when compared to any other training institution, has an unmistakable family or house style, a “reoccurring theme in most of the Gobelin films is fast action and editing”. A comment from Jaz notes: “It's amazing how you can look at the first few seconds of each one and know automatically that it came from that school.” A discussion last year for Cartoon Brew had an observation from Fran Krause that, “One of the things I like about most student film shows is that each film has its own style, so as beautiful as the Gobelins films usually are, it does make me wonder if some of the individual styles are getting lost. They usually have a Gobelins-y style. Airbrushy backgrounds, squat heads, shading.” All observers will however doubtless also share a view, summed up by one of my favourite bloggers, Charley Parker from Lines and Colours, concerning the school's annual contribution to Annecy, that "these films are usually clever, witty, well drawn and well animated. Each year they give me great hope that the traditions of hand drawn animation are alive and well in the face of the tidal wave of CGI (both good and bad) from Hollywood." Indeed, one of the factors that distinguishes the school is an insistence that the would-be students be able to draw by hand, for example by having a hand-drawn animation exercise as one of its entrance requirements. With over 800 entrants for the meager 25 places, the standard of student is awesome even before the teaching commences. And the 30 years of the school's graduates are now scattered around the world, hugely influential in the industry. Tomorrow I shall attempt to write about the actual movies.

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