Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Gator takes a look at...Cartoon Saloon

As an animation student, someone who is striving to be the best I can be in my chosen field, it comes with the territory that I look up to companies (and individuals) for inspiration and motivation. So, why not celebrate those who introduced me to the animated world and keep me going with the idea that, some day, I may join them.

Across the coming weeks I will be shedding a little light onto 5 different animation studios (and possibly 2-3 individuals afterwards in an extra post, as my way of saying thanks) and what brought them to where they are today.

So let's kick of with a studio relatively close to home.

Click the logo to go to their website!

Cartoon Saloon is an animation studio based primarily in Ireland; Kilkenny to be specific. The saloon was founded by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, Ross Murray and Nora Twomey in 1999, an informal partnership founded in their final year of Ballyfermot College. This flourished into a fully-fledged studio which has worked alongside the likes of Disney, Cartoon Network and the BBC and produces a wide variety of animated media; from commercials and graphic novels to television shows and films (both short and feature length). In fact, you may recognise one of them from the Oscars a few years ago.

Property of Cartoon Saloon

Property of Cartoon Saloon

That's right! These are the creative minds behind "The Secret of Kells" (one of my favorite films by the way) as well as the upcoming feature "Song of the Sea" (Both of which are directed by Tomm Moore). But it's their television work and animated shorts which first introduced me to Cartoon Saloon, namely their 2002 short "From Darkness" and the 2007 series "Skunk Fu!"

Property of Cartoon Saloon

Property of Cartoon Saloon

This studio has always been a huge inspiration to me, namely for the gorgeous designs of the backgrounds and the fluid animation of the characters, which truly immerses you in the lush, fantastical worlds they build. Everything is bursting with detail, and perfectly reflects the feel of the narrative. I am also deeply fond of their use of curved shapes and crisp lines, it makes the character movement all the more compelling and gives it a "storybook" feel.

Property of Cartoon Saloon

But most of all I love their combination of traditional and digital. While their TV products lean more towards the digital side, Their feature films have combined both hand-drawn animation and digital media, creating free-flowing movement while also utilizing new software to enhance the footage with rich colours and effects.

Here is an example of the rough animation in "Secret of Kells" (animated by somebody who is also named Alessandra, now isn't that interesting). Alessandra Sorrentino!

To me, this is animation at it's best. I am fond of many different approaches and styles, but I think the medium truly shines when you combine elements from all different corners of the industry. Now I'm not a whiny old fool who will complain "back in my day...", I am a true fan of the evolving world of digital animation, and would love to be a part of it, but I also don't forget that there are certain features and benefits that come with the traditional approach, and Cartoon Saloon are living proof that mixing the two can lead to an amazing concoction indeed.

Property of Cartoon Saloon

See what I did there?

Next time Gator takes a look, we'll be traveling across the pond to look at somewhere that truly leans to the digital side.

Until then!

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