Animation and craft

In Esther Leslie’s ‘Traces of Craft’ Walter Benjamin is quoted to say that “the hand is made redundant by technological advance”(1998). He believed that due to the mechanical age real craftsmanship was being lost in the mass production of products. Cel animation ‘a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation” (Wikipedia) is a technique that has all but been fazed out of the animation process with the popularity of 3D animation, vector based programs like flash, and even the introduction of 3D printing into stop motion. In my example I interviewed Thomas Urquhart on the reasons for why he chose this particular animation technique, how he created it, how long it took and where he was at the time of its creation. The creation process of this animation was long and laborious and yet the length is only 13 seconds. The animation itself could likely be replicated in less than half that time, taking far less effort with the use of new animation technologies but the outcome would be very different, or at least that is what I believe. The character that comes with the hand drawn images would be lost with the use of computer generated vector imagery for it is the minute flaws in the animation that gives it, its character and that is what Benjamin was afraid of, the loss of the “story” within the end product when it is mass produced by a machine and not by hand.


9 thoughts on “Animation and craft

  1. The correlation between the video and interview work really well together and i really enjoyed it. I didn’t stop to think about the ‘character’ that would be lost if we chose to animate using new animation technology. I agree that the flaws make character and character would be lost, thus the story also. Animation by hand also gives realism to the piece, thus creating a human connection. Animation can bring inanimate things to life, and just like Faber and walters states, ‘Animation is magical’.
    Great work!


  2. This is an extremely interesting post! It is relevant to the times we live in, as practically everything around us is turning digital! I particularly agree with Walter Benjamin’s argument that the art of craftsmanship is being overtaken by mass production. These days it’s not very common to come across a hand crafted object, as technology is now so advanced it may almost seem impractical to make something by hand. This may be due to the fact that it is more time consuming and possibly less cost effective. Including some other opinions of theorists could potentially lead to a stronger argument. Overall a fantast post, I really enjoyed reading it!


    • Thank you. You’re correct, I believe it’s more about cost and time constraints when it comes down to it. Also it might also mean less people are needed in order to make an animation as the software takes over some of the labour required. It would have been great to add more input from other theorists, however in an effort to keep the blog short I figured if I had too much information from other people I would be limiting the amount of personal input I could have in the blog as well so decided on the one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great blog post! iIn todays day and age it is sad to think craftsmanship is being over taken by mass production however its so accurate. I think we are such a consumeristic society that craftsmanship is unable to handle the amount of product needed in such a little time. I value my handmade things much more then the things i know have been produced by a machine. Craftsmanship needs to remain evident in the world but only time would tell. Your blog post has made me want to go off and research it myself, so well done, very intresting angle to look at.


  4. I really like your reference to Benajmin’s essay (don’t we all love a bit of CACS101), and the relationship you highlight between man and machine. It’s something very relevant to animation. I don’t think many of us realise the amount of work that goes into some animation projects as opposed to others. Claymation vs. computer animation etc. You make an interesting argument how the overall element of the story would be lost without the effort from the creator. Great post 🙂


    • Lol I’d read the article enough times thanks to CACS101 I didn’t even need to do the readings for that week. I had honestly hoped there would be no more of Mr Benjamin. It is really amazing the sheer level of detail and attention needed to create such a small amount of animation. They often employ people who spend days on only a few seconds at a time and that’s not including the background research that is done.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The animation is really effective and is a great example, as you mentioned, of how animation (while it is awesome) doesn’t have the same effect as a pencil on paper does. This is at the heart of this weeks topic where the authenticity and tangibly of a physical, material thing can’t always be replaced by the digital equivalent, but combining them can create wonderful things as seen in your example.
    In my classes tutorial we talked about how in the near future, children probably won’t even know what a picture book is, as they will be using something like an iPad to get the same form of entertainment, and though this may not be a massive deal to them, I know how much I treasured the physical object of having those books to read.
    It is always interesting to see the link between digital and material, because at times it doesn’t always work as well as your example displays.


  6. This is a very interesting post! It really helped with my understanding of the topic. Your reference to Benjamin’s essay to emphasise that craftsmanship is being overtaken by mass production was a great idea! I believe that the combination of craft and digital art really defines who we are as a society today as we are constantly evolving on a technological front. But we seem to be losing value of handmade art unfortunately. Overall a fantastic read 🙂


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