Sunday, 10 August 2008

Do They Still Draw Cartoons?

"Legends tell of a legendary warrior, whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend...!"

So goes the opening narrative for Dreamworks' latest offering, Kung Fu Panda. If I could raise an eyebrow, I would. However, it took several viewings before I got it; I secured a bootleg copy because I couldn't wait for the original. And this was after watching it at a cinema. Despite a few iCringe moments, it's just brimming with Fun™. What the hell was Zhao Bandi complaining about? The panda isn't even copyrighted by China.

And I swear, they're getting more and more quotable. A far cry from Yogi Bear's word-mangling and bad grammar, "zoiks", "jinkies" and "Heavens to Murgatroid!" Chalk it up to the scriptwriters. "Cartoons" ain't just for kids any more.

"He was so deadly, in fact, that his enemies would go blind from overexposure to pure awesomeness!"

Animated features have come a long way. I grew up watching the 2-D ones, admiring the artwork and the lengths they went to in making them. Then came the digital age, and the advent of not-so-cartoonish cartoons. However, the day when 2-D went 3-D was probably when Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released. Since then, PC processors got faster, hardware more sophisticated. Have you seen today's graphic cards? They look like miniature motherboards - complete with their own processors and cooling fans. Some cards run so hot they need their equivalent of a radiator.

But I wouldn't pack cel animation to the nearest retirement home just yet. The Japs are still at it, even though more and more of cel-CGI marriages are happening (Ghost In The Shell, Appleseed, Vandread, Vexille, etc). With so much history behind cel, it should be preserved as a heritage in case it is eclipsed by newer animation techniques. Hell, it might even be taught as an esoteric skill one day, like the erhu or didgeridoo.

"One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

But I'm also thinking: With Moore's Law running rampant like a flock of rabid Road Runners, it won't be long before anybody could make their own animated features on devices as small as a cellphone. Will we be networking using our own custom-made CGI avatars someday? To the point where we won't have to leave our chairs? The producers of WALL-E think so.

Great. Not only are they packing cinemas and driving CPU evolution, but predicting the future as well.

"There's no charge for awesomeness - or attractiveness."

I still think they put that into Jack Black's mouth just to rub it into our noses.

"There are no accidents."

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