Welcome to the Rotoscopers Roundtable, a feature in which the Rotoscopers crew takes one question and gives their answers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, ask it in the comments below!
This week’s question is: “How Did You Become an Animation Addict?”
Kyle J. Ostrum:
Though I was watching my Disney films non-stop before, I’d say around late 2000, when I was 8 years old: repeated viewings of ‘The Lion King‘ followed by watching the “behind the scenes” specials on the VHS tapes of ‘Bambi‘ and ‘The Jungle Book.’ I decided to be a storyteller and artist, and, of course, an animation addict.
It actually took me a long time to become the addict I am today. I’ve always LOVED the Disney movies and I was a huge fan of every Pixar movie. But I remember I was reading about ‘Wall-E‘ before it came out, and I realized the same studio had made ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Monsters, Inc.,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ ‘The Incredibles,’ and ‘Ratatouille.’ I was very impressed. I started buying books about Pixar and reading a lot about the directors and writers and animators. I became an addict. Not only an animation addict, but a filmmaking addict. Pixar is also the reason I’m a screenwriter. Story is king!
My path to animation addiction had a lot of facets to it. There are a few moments, however, that strike me as really important.
The first movie I remember seeing was an animated film. It was a formative experience in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday: it was a hot summer day, too hot to play outside. Therefore, my mom decided to take me to the movies to see Disney’s latest film, ‘The Lion King.’ I remember going into the theater not knowing what to expect, and coming out with my mind blown. I was too young to understand the movie’s themes, and I hid under my chair when the climax got really intense, but the greatness of the film sunk in, and I came out of the theater loving movies. It hadn’t really struck me, though, that ‘The Lion King’ was animated.
Two years later, I saw ‘Toy Story‘ for the first time in the living room of my childhood home. I had seen many more animated films since then, and I loved them all (and still do)! However, ‘Toy Story’ rocked me in a way no other animated film had before. It wasn’t just that it was CG-animated (even though that probably had something to do with it); it had to do with the fact that the Pixar story crew had crafted such a unique, interesting story. It was unlike any story I’d ever seen in any other film. That was the next gateway on my path to my animation addiction.
The dam broke, though, several years later, when I saw ‘Finding Nemo‘ in theaters. I was a teenager, and, while I still liked animated movies, I was ashamed to admit it. After all, kids my age were supposed to have grown out of animated films. I went to ‘Finding Nemo’ under duress, not wanting to be seen at an animated movie. That feeling was gone before the movie ended. At some point, it struck me that everything on the screen had been created, down to the tiniest detail, by an amazing team of artists and animators. That enthralled me, and it drew me further into an already wonderful film.
…And that, friends and neighbors, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I left that showing of ‘Finding Nemo’ a raving, unapologetic animation addict, and I’ve never looked back!
For me, Pixar has a lot to do with it. Everyone knew ‘Toy Story‘ in the ’90s, but not everyone was familiar with Pixar yet, myself included. It wasn’t until I saw ‘Monsters Inc.‘ when I was 11 years old that I became aware of what exactly this studio was and what they could achieve. Every film they came out with just got better and better and it sparked something inside me. After endless sketches of Mike and Sully, making models of stop-motion characters and watching animation DVD extras over and over again, I realized I was getting addicted.
History almost repeated itself when I saw ‘Monsters University.’ After I left the cinema I decided I wanted to go back to school to study animation, because I loved it so much, but I knew I wasn’t cut out for CG. Stop-motion was my passion, and, luckily, ‘ParaNorman‘ came out about the same time. This amazing film gave me that extra push I needed to be creative again, to approach the Rotoscopers about writing for their site, and to just fall as deeply as you can in love with animation.
I don’t think that I can pinpoint one moment when I became an animation addict, because I have always been one. When I was younger, I used to watch animated films like ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Pocahontas,’ and ‘Aladdin’ all the time. I think I have always just been drawn to the storytelling medium of animation.
I probably didn’t start to become a real ‘fan’ of animation until I was 12 or 13, when I started frequenting LiveJournal communities dedicated to fans of animation studios like Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar. By the time I was 15, I was calling LAIKA (at that time they had only produced commercials and one short film) and begging them to let me job shadow at the studio. I have just always had an intense love for animated films and been an animation addict who wants to learn as much as she can about animation!
Like any kid, I grew up watching Disney movies on VHS nonstop. The first real time I remember respecting animation as an art form, however, is a vague memory from when I was around four years old, watching ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ Usually, when the “behind the scenes” section would play after the VHS tapes, I would get bored and wait for my parents to play the next tape. But with Sleeping Beauty, it was different. I was actually kind of interested by what was on the screen. Maybe I didn’t understand why they had someone dressed like Briar Rose twirling in a dress while a bunch of men drew her, but I remember wanted to know more. As I grew older, I never really outgrew my love for Disney or animation in general. But it wasn’t until around 2011 when I got into anime (which opened me up to foreign animation), as well as rewatching a bunch of my childhood favorites, that I became an animation addict.
I blame the VHS for my animation addiction. I remember my older brother and sister and myself were so proud of our collection. We always bought every movie right when it came out. To have every film in the canon displayed in order was, as an 8 year old, my greatest ambition… Well, that and live in the castle from ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The VHS made it possible for me to rewind over and over and over again in order to learn and sing along with all the amazing songs.
Then there came the McDonald’s Disney Trivia scratchers game. “You mean to tell me I can impress my friends AND win a Dodge Viper by knowing Disney facts?! …Super size me!”
I remember getting the 1997 VHS copy of ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ This was a little different because at the end it had a 15 min feature on the making of the film. That opened my eyes and my fascination of all sides of the process.
Jonathan J. North:
My addiction started many years ago, when I was very young. It was actually an addiction to two movies in particular, ‘Bambi‘ and ‘Fantasia.’ Primarily ‘Bambi,’ but ‘Fantasia’ as a close second when ‘Bambi’ wasn’t available.
We didn’t have a VCR when I was a little kid, but my cousins did. Every single time I visited them, I wanted to watch ‘Bambi.’ “Hey, look! They just made a sequel to ‘Aladdin!’ It’s called ‘The Return of Jafar!’ Want to watch it?” Nope, Just ‘Bambi.’ Only ‘Bambi.’ ‘Bambi’ forever and always.
I got into ‘Fantasia’ because it was literally the only “kids” movie that my grandparents owned. My grandfather was/is a huge classical music buff, so of course he owned it. I wanted to watch that every time we visited them.
I did watch other movies as a kid, of course. Eventually, we did get a VCR, and we started checking out all sorts of things from the library. But if we were visiting people who owned either of those two movies, I HAD to watch them before anything else.
I became a fan of animation in general in my teens, when I realized that certain studios made better movies than others. Everyone knew Disney, of course, but when Pixar came onto the scene, I quickly realized that if a computer animated movie had the name Pixar before the title, it was guaranteed to be a good one. (DreamWorks, not so much. I was still trying to get over the horror that was ‘Antz‘… Seriously, the talking severed head of a prominent character in a kids movie? Nightmares for days, guys…)
‘Monsters, Inc.‘ became the first animated movie that my family went to the theater to see, because I had come to realize that Pixar was putting out quality films, and I somehow convinced them that we needed to go to a theater to see it. After that first one, I made it a point to look into every animated movie that was coming out to see if it would be worth seeing in the theater, and I guess I’m still doing it! Only now, I’m looking into far more than movies. TV shows, web series, DVDs, anything animated and I’ll probably read about it, watch it, and maybe even write about it! I guess it’s safe to say I am an animation addict, but this is one addiction that doesn’t need a 12-step program.
In May 2006, the world premiere of ‘Cars‘ took place at the speedway in my hometown. Admission was $10 and open to the public. Growing up loving Disney films, it was a no-brainer for my family. That experience was what changed things for me. Seeing how proud John Lasseter was of the project and how many people it took to create the film (and now getting to see their labor sent off into the world) was inspiring. To me, that night, animation became not just something that was fun to watch, but something that people did for a living and I wanted to be part of in some way, whether from a hands-on or journalistic perspective, or simply being part of ensuring the guest has a magical experience with the product.
Max den Hartog:
Like most kids, I grew up watching animated movies. And even though the love that 4-year-old me had for films such as ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ and ‘Pinocchio‘ didn’t resolve in the interesting and fascination I have for animation today, I’d still like to start there.
I grew up loving Disney and Pixar movies and I always loved everything Disney related. My family would visit Disneyland Paris quite a lot, and my VHS collection (and later DVD collection) was filled with Disney classics. When I was about 8, I started getting really interested in Walt Disney and I read a lot about him and about how he started his company. I was the kid who always had his school presentations about Walt Disney, and everyone at school knew me as the Disney expert.
Because I loved Disney so much, I never stopped watching the latest Disney and Pixar movies when they came out, and when films such as ‘Tangled,’ ‘Brave,’ and ‘Frozen‘ came out, I really started getting interested in how these films were made. ‘The Art of Tangled’ was the first art book I ever bought, and also the one that immediately started my fascination with animation. When I joined the Rotoscopers team in 2013, I got the opportunity to write about many other studios besides Disney, including DreamWorks and LAIKA, and I really started getting interested in how they made their films and how they differentiated from studios like Disney and Pixar. Today, I’m interested in everything animation related and I hope to learn more about the medium in the upcoming years to hopefully become an ever bigger animation addict than I already am.
I can’t exactly pinpoint a moment in time when I realized I was an animation addict. Looking back, I feel like it was an evolution in the process, starting with the Disney classics like ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ and ‘The Lion King.’ I will say that Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles‘ was a turning point; the movie made an impact on me, showing how different kinds of animation can be sophisticated and touching at the same time. When I was in my early-to-middle teenage years, I realized that I preferred animation more than live-action films and began to explore the animation field in earnest. Anime, claymation, stop-motion, etc., the list just went on and on, and I quickly discovered that animation went beyond feature films. Short films and TV commercials also held hidden gems (‘Requiem for Romance,’ for example). My evolution as an animation addict is continuing, and I can’t wait to see what new treasures and innovations the field has to offer.
There isn’t an exact moment that I realized my passion for animation; it was just something that I grew up with. My older sister definitely helped to facilitate my love; we would get up at 3 am to watch movies together until we fell asleep. She would always get to pick, so I watched way too much ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ and could recite the whole movie back to you by the time I was 7 (although, admittedly, the film has worn a little thin with me because of that!)
Animated movies always just seemed to inspire me. It is a different medium to tell stories, and therefore, there is a greater arena in which to be creative. They have always bonded my family. Even though we are both in our twenties, I still go see the latest animated films with my older sister, and they are definitely among our greatest shared passions. The Peanuts specials were also great opportunities for our family to gather- ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ is truly a masterpiece, and ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown‘ always brought our family into the Halloween spirit, when it is usually lower on our list of holidays we get excited about. It wasn’t until I discovered the Rotoscopers until I realized that animation could have its own fandom, and the podcasts brought my love for the films to a different level, as the production side had been fairly unknown to me, but now is just as interesting to me as the films themselves!
How about you? How did you become an animation addict?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes