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What Makes Animation Great

Animation is not a genre. Director Brad Bird will punch you in the face if you say that. That’s because animation isn’t just light humor, fluffy songs, and dance numbers; animation is an art form that can be used to tell any story in any genre. This video, edited by Kees van Dijkhuizen Jr., illustrates Bird’s points about what makes animation great using his audio commentaries for scenes in The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.


Bird doesn’t like the simple instant action animation, he likes to sneak around, to take in the moment, and to slow down. He enjoys showing the problems and isn’t afraid of reality, and all of that definitely shows in his animated movies. Watch and listen to Bird discuss animation in the video below:

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I agree that animation isn’t a genre necessarily, but family-focused CGI animated films in particular have become so formulaic that they are akin to the 80's rom-com — stubbornly predictable, extremely similar senses of humor and heart, and basically hitting the same beats. I blame Pixar for its onset (even as films like Bird’s own The Incredibles or Ratatouille break away from the conventions, as well as Wall-E), but Disney and Dreamworks have run with it full stead, and now I generally feel antipathy to any newly released CGI animated film. I’m ready for something more. I’m also ready for American animators to return to older two-dimensional and hand-drawn styles.