Environmentalism in Animation: Dissertation Research

These are just a few videos which are relevant to some of my research on environmentalism in animation. I want to examine ideas of why environmentalism is becoming more commonly used as a subtext in almost all forms of animated media. Children’s series are more and more showing good characters acting in environmentally conscious ways and subtly showing how good values and traits run parallel to preserving nature and good environmental practices. I also want research why the idea of the apocalypse occurring due to human fault and neglect of the environment has become such a popular theme. In the “Mad Max” (1979 – 2015) series particularly the latest “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) explores the idea of the post apocalyptic future and having to find pockets of natural environment “the green place” in order to survive.

I am also going to be looking into creators and audiences opinions on environmentalism and why American audiences have such strikingly different views on environmentalism than other parts of the world. The way in which we talk about environmentalism is changing. More and more people are choosing to say it’s a myth because they feel they haven’t seen a fast and dramatic impact. Japan’s ideals regarding environmentalism are much more commendable than most of America. This is mainly from the vast differences in large companies environmental practices. Most of Japans larges companies try to keep themselves ‘green’ and eco-friendly while American companies are very slow to change any of their own practices to create a more eco-friendly outlook.

Exploring the symbolic nature of ideals and movements in animation is also going to be a key part of my writing. When comparing films created by people with very different cultural backgrounds it becomes much more interesting to see how symbolism is used. In “The Last Unicorn” (1982) and “Spirited Away” (2001) the different mythos supporting these films ie; Japanese mythos vs European mythos and how these have effected the narrative and the types of symbolism used there in.


Immersive Experience

To see whether or not what we’re creating will be successful we’ve been doing some user testing. So far the results have been quite positive and our guinea pigs have enjoyed the experience in the VR and had the appropriate emotional responses to the visual stimuli. In order to keep up the immersive experience we’ve been using very realistic assets with the platform, tube and characters appearance,  to further keep from breaking the viewer from the experience we’re are keeping the characters animations as realistic as possible, having them subtly move and breathe so that this VR experience feels real.

Some of our testers noticed cutting in our geometry such as in the seats or being able to stick their head out of the tube wall. we’re working out  way to prevent this and ensure that the viewer is more securely inside the train. The also found some of the sounds a little too loud at the start of the experience but found that they adjusted to them after a few seconds but we may reduce the overall volume a little just to avoid the jarring start as this feels a bit more sensible.

We found that in our testing some viewers were flinching a little during some of our cuts as they were a little too sudden. So to get around this we’re blending the trench and tube a lot more so that there’s a less definite break between the geometry of the two. I like this way of doing the transitions better as I think it speaks more appropriately about how PTSD affects peoples everyday lives, in that it doesn’t completely remove you from where you are but it deeply affects how you perceive the sounds and sights around you.

Concentrating on the sounds in our VR we have begun to consider more the sorts of Foley sounds we will need to create. I’ve also found that it’s very difficult to find pre-recorded slang or colloquialisms and voices from the 1930’s or people acting as though they are in the 1930’s. Because of this I know that myself and my team may have to record some background dialogue of 1930’s slang I may also see if there are other members of our class who would like to join my team in doing this as I think it could be quite fun, but also I feel the VR will sound better if we have more of a variety of voices rather than the same four used repeatedly.

Our progress through making the VR has been recorded by Dervla Hillan, she’s been incredibly helpful in photographing sources for some of our models as well as helping us to document our work. Because of the way this is being set up I’m creating a website to showcase the VR we are creating. Once finished this website will feature our finished product and the filmed reactions of some users as well as Dervla’s footage of us. I’ll also create a gallery section on the website where I will feature all the concept art from myself and the team which went into the project, this will be kept separate from my blog except as a link in my posts about this terms final hand in.