The slow drip of progress is a universal experience when it comes to animation and animated content.
I definitely get introspective at the end of these projects.
The clock continues to count down on the FTP server window. It currently says “Getting 00089523.dpx”. It’s a frame of the film The Vaudeville Show, one of thousands of frames that have been slowly working their way through as bits and bites reassembling into this machine, forming in the end a complete film made from a time of much less technology. It’s just one film of thousands that were made in the 20th century. I guess it’s not a big surprise that so many are forgotten.
There is a great deal of similarity between what is happening to get this film into these new technologies and how the film had been made in the first place. There’s a similarity to how the industry of animation has always worked. I’ve found it’s even similar to all the aspects of putting together these Blu-ray sets. All small pieces, all trickling in.
As the Chuck Jones said “All worthwhile endeavors are 90% work and 10% love, and (in the end) only the love should show”. In my own experience in working in animation, games and things like these projects, I’ve found it’s more than just the work that shouldn’t show- but rather all the other things that got in the way of a project should fall by the wayside as well. I’ve found the biggest effect on anything I’m working on is all the outside stuff of life that presents a challenge. Those are the things that seem to affect the outcome more than the internal work factors.
Of course, all of this could be applied to any endeavor, from building a house to making a meal perhaps. The human experience seems to be one of building things or destroying things. Perhaps all of us have the need to do both at various times in our lives.
I think that one of the reasons I’ve always been attracted to presenting animation is that it has the ability to check off lots of different things I enjoy. It can be watched and enjoyed casually by yourself -and in addition you can show it to others without them having to have the same information or attachment that you have to it. The humor or drama can work different for different people, and someone can look at it and enjoy an aspect of it that you hadn’t even considered.
As I’m working on wrapping up this Blu-ray of Stop Motion films and tweaking various technical aspects of the set, I have to keep reminding myself that these particular things are a gathering of the endeavors of others, meant to be seen by a audience that, for the most part, has now left. The existence of them is a gift from the past, and the decision to be a steward of that material has fallen into all of our hands. The last half century has been a period of preserving and rediscovering by various generations, collectively and continually, with a handful of people deciding to take on the tasks of carrying the tradition of showing and enjoying these films in different ways. Some collect them in various mediums, some share them, some show them, some write about them. In all these ways they’re kept alive. The true ownership and value of the films comes from what they are able to do best- be seen and enjoyed.
While it’s understandable that companies value the things that bring in money the most, many are left with all sorts of wonderful things that just will never be profitable enough for them to care in the same way they cared when the material was made. Other things lost their owners long ago, or whoever owns them doesn’t know that they do. In each of these circumstances, I think every try to help them be seen is important. Each of us in only here for so long, and there’s so much wonderful stuff that is waiting to be rediscovered that it would take any one person a lifetime to get a small percentage of it back in the public eye.
We own our own actions and little else related to old cartoons for the most part. Folks in a generation above and below me are involved in these same efforts, and I’m glad they’re still at it as I am. Since we’re nearly stewards of a majority of this material rather than owners, I think we have to remain humble in our attempts to make sure they’re passed on for an audience now and in the future.
So, I hope you find and enjoy some animation this weekend if you wish to. Name a film in the comments this week you think others would enjoy seeing— and have a week all!