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ThemesPhoto/ByteAnimation in the Internet
Filmbyte: Each His Own Producer: Animation in the Internet
Project/Website: Animation in the Internet
Karin Wehn

The many thousands of animated short films that are showcased at websites such as online cinemas or that are distributed through file sharing systems, are conclusive proof that the animated film has not only found a new home on the Internet, but is also experiencing a renaissance. Following an action theory/system-theory model shows that the films were first produced, then distributed, then watched, and finally «processed» in further communicative actions (for example, reviewed in film critiques or used as themes in other media, etc.). In this respect, the films exist in mutual, interchangeable relations to social systems such as art, everyday culture, technology, and economy. Starting from this model the lecture addresses the question of how these four action areas change with regard to animated film’s media-shift from film and television to the Internet; which new animation techniques evolve, how they influence the materiality of film and how social practices change with animated film.

Crucial web-animation techniques which were either developed exclusively for the Internet, or which flourish and matter most there as a result of theprevailing distributive or communicative conditions, include

• Digitalized short films: often prize-winners at festivals or dissertation films, but also valuable historic films;

• Brick films: Stop-Motion animated films with sets and figures made of Lego;

• Flash Animations: produced with the vector-based animation software Macromedia Flash, suitable for cartoons, cut-out animation, interactive elements, but also programmed animations;

• Machinima: 3D animated films produced by redesigning the virtual environments of computer games (especially first-person shooters), exploiting the real-time rendering of these games for the film production, as well as

• Demos: Demos originate from cracked computer games of the 1980s, to which crackers then added a leader with their pseudonym. This established itself as an art form in its own right. Demos are programmed, usually abstract animations which are also rendered in real time and which exhaust the boundaries of the hardware and seek a perfect synthesis of image and sound.

Especially with Machinima and Demos the traditional animation definition based on the principle of single frames becomes invalid, because the production means no longer accommodates single frames and only recognizes objects and navigating commands. Above and beyond all of the techniques, special attention lies in the area of tension between technological innovations and the social manners of their users, who often create with these techniques things other than what were intended industrially. In addition, the boundaries between amateurs and professionals are reestablished since amateurs have, to an extent, access to the same production software that professionals use. What evolves from this are new forms of collaboration regarding film projects, for example international teams who know each other exclusively through the Internet. So what emerges just as much are experiments with new social models and forms of presentation. One observes an overall change in and merging of action-taking roles, since those responsible for them often oscillate between a variety of action-taking roles. Canonizing processes are observed everywhere and are often initiated by the makers themselves.


Animation in the Internet

An academic website with a comprehensively annotated listing of links to more than 500 animation sites in the Internet, including analyses of especially important websites, theoretical texts on the possible classification models of web tools, social models of animation websites, estimating the number of users, advertising in the Internet, as well as a forum.

Digitalized Short Films

Angry Kid. Aardman Kurzfilme. Origins of American Animation. Bill Plympton.

Flash Animations

Happy Tree Friends. This land. Walking on By. Fool Lee.

Brickfilms Fußball WM 54. The Gauntlet. Animation Class 1.

Machinima Quake Done With A Vengeance. ILL Clan. In the Waiting Line. Anna. Fake Science. Rebel vs. Thug.


© Media Art Net 2004