Animation can be used to inform, educate, advertise and express emotions just as live action can by using the same techniques; such as the use of colour, film language and sound. The NSPCC advert by Russell Brooke on television is a good example of how animation can be more effective than live action. There is no limit to how much a situation or an action can be exaggerated but still remain to be convincing. In the advert if a real child was being thrown around it would be extremely controversial and although it is actually what is going on behind closed doors it would be too much for some people to watch. The animated character is created in a way that portrays the child in a way that will get the message across. This example shows how valuable a tool animation really is, that it is not just a media form to entertain young children. It is also a good vehicle to show that cartoon violence can be used to a positive end.
On the other hand cartoon violence can be quite aggressive and graphic like the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ video games series and some Manga features involve a lot of violence and gore but created in a quite realistic way, not suitable for a young audience where as cartoons adapted from Marvel comics such as ‘Spiderman’ and the ‘X-Men’ are primarily orientated around fighting but done in a less bloody way. The fight sequences involve a few kicks and punches and a superhuman power is used which doesn’t normally inflict much gory, physical damage on the opponent, instead the loser is left with a scratch or two on their face with a trickle of blood oozing from their mouth. The fights, realistic as they may be, are not overly graphic, otherwise they would have to be shown after the watershed, but they are descriptive enough to express what is going on within the story. Most important of all is the fact that good always triumphs over evil in these cartoons. This does not justify the fighting but neither does it encourage it. Fisticuffs in a live action feature is always more violent than fighting in cartoons as it involves real people who can get hurt whereas cartoon characters feel nothing, making the fighting seem less realistic than a live action fight sequence.
The belief that animation is a media form directed mainly at children is not necessarily true, but in some situations this can be used to the advantage of the producers. A good example of this is the recent ‘DairyLea’ commercials, created in a 3D Stop Motion technique it shows some talking cows encouraging children to eat their product, not just on its own, but with mashed potato. The advert shows that ‘DairyLea’ can be mixed with other foods and the format is more memorable to children (the talking cows), therefore they are more likely to ask their parents to buy them some. Another good example of animation aimed at children is the ‘Green Cross Code’ (stop, look and listen). This informative commercial shows hedgehogs crossing a road in an animated and musical way, encouraging children to do as they do and they will be safe. This format was chosen so children will remember how to safely cross the road as told by singing hedgehogs-which would not have been possible in real life through a live action format. The advert offers an interesting, memorable alternative to mundane, forgettable, live action instructions.
Since animation is made popular by children, (for example, the phenomenon of the ‘Pokemon’ series) there are a number of ways producers can capitalise on the launch and success of a series. The producers see many ways of making more money from a successful cartoon because they know that children will do anything to get their hands on elements of merchandise, for example the ‘Pokemon’ battle cards. Merchandise does not just stop at playing cards though; there is stationary, cutlery, bags, toys, clothing, books, posters and video games. It is this side of animation that results in adults distancing themselves from the genre because of the fact that the cartoon series is blatantly aimed at children and so this is enough to put them off watching. Formerly the animation format adopted a biased approach aimed solely at a younger audience. In the early days animation it was fascinating concept, a drawing that was moving. Since it was a new concept people of all ages took an interest.
Now the omnipresence of the format through the years that people find it entertaining up to a point in their lives then just stop watching animation as they get older, then when they have kids of their own the viewing process starts again. It is because of this misconception of the format and its association with youngsters that successful attempts have been made to break this mould. Since some adults have an interest in animation specific titles and series’ have been aimed at an adult specific audience, these include the ‘2DTV’ series, some ‘Manga’ titles, Comedy Central’s ‘South Park’, ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Futurama’ and the Japanese ‘Hen-Tai’. To conclude this point, John Serpentelli writes in an article, that “The connection between children and animation seems simple enough. To a child, anything is possible and the same is true for animation.” The animation format is also able to inadvertently teach children about the artistic side of animation, as John Serpentelli says, “Since animation is an art form that can involve almost all other art forms and children can directly encounter the art world in an unfiltered manner.”
A recent comeback of 80’s animation has shown resurgence in popularity of classics such as ‘The Clangers’, ‘Bagpuss’ and ‘The Magic Roundabout’. Adults who viewed these animations when they were younger tune in to see these classics of their day, and their children join in. Some adults are required to watch animated videos in the workplace, on issues of safety. Having to watch, follow and understand irritatingly obvious and drab pieces of animation could be enough to put some adults off the format, believing the genre is as bad as the video they had to view. This also shows that animation can be as realistic and informative as live action, but simpler to understand, where as on the other hand cartoons aimed at children, however unrealistic, sometimes incorporate a moral or advice at the end of the episode, in an effort to teach the youngsters watching what is right and what is wrong. The reason being for this is that if children see their favourite cartoon character doing something or telling them to do something then they might be encouraged to do as they say. This just shows that if done correctly animations can be as entertaining as they are informative or educational for a range of audiences.
Within video games the games character which the player controls is brought to life by using animation. The character would be lifeless if it was not animated and so the use of animation is crucial. The incorporation of animation does not stop there as FMV’s (Full Motion Videos) are also used to tell a story within a video game. This is a good example of how animation can make the impossible possible; by giving inanimate objects and characters life.
Animation is a priceless tool for all types of media when the impossible is required to become possible. For example, there are no limits to action or comedy in an animated feature, and animation provides these additional effects in a live action feature, effects that would not be possible to recreate safely or due to the limitations of a human actor. An example of such effects that are used in the movies is in the film ‘The Mask’ starring Jim Carrey to allow the face of the mask wearer to become very rubbery, distorted and very flexible. Animation allows the actor’s face to become very pliable, allowing things to happen to it that are not humanly possible. The animation techniques incorporated within films are normally used in the special effects areas. This has been true as far back as movies such as ‘Sinbad’ where Ray Harryhausen’s 3D stop motion monsters were revolutionary in their day and opened up a whole new unchartered area of the world of film. As painstaking as the monsters were to bring to life the end results were astounding and very effective, adding a whole new atmosphere and dynamic to a movie. Examples of the use of this technique in films are: ‘Robocop’ and the ED-209 machine and the stone gargoyles in the film ‘Ghostbusters’ to name but two of many. The use of 3D stop motion within a live action movie did not get left behind though in favour of the technologically advanced effects that computer graphics offered. Animation can have a unique manipulative effect on objects as it can turn normally innocent lifeless objects into dark sinister beings In contrast, animation can turn toys into what children want them to be if they could come to life, as for example in Disney’s ‘Toy Story’. Again here is that element of target audience, depending upon what age group is being targeted animation can be as dark or as cheerful as required.