With the start of the winter break, so does the search for the perfect winter movies to watch this season. When it comes to animated films, there is a plethora of choices, old and new, and the list goes on and on. The Holiday and Winter Animated Movies genre contains a wide range of animation styles and techniques, as well as many different stories and themes.
The following is a list of 5 essential animated films for this winter season from an animator’s perspective; whether it is the innovation and progress that distinguish these animated films, or simply the beauty of their works, each deserves to be recognized for the creativity and talent behind their visuals.
The Snowman (1982)
If you grew up in the 80s and early 90s, The Snowman, directed by Diane jackson and based on the book by Raymond Briggs, could have been part of your holiday film traditions; short, sweet, and a little sad, this movie is something a lot of people remember with a healthy dose of bittersweet nostalgia. A young boy wakes up on a snowy day and builds a snowman, only for his new friend to come to life that night and take him on a journey around the world, before reality ends their fun . Without any other dialogue than his main song, “Walking in the Air” by Howard blake, the film is the embodiment of the quiet magic of winter.
Animated by hand traditionally on paper, and later traced in pastel and pencil on celluloid, The Snowman has a kind of weightlessness, reminiscent of falling snow; the characters dance across the stage in smooth, fluid, hypnotic movements as they move through the hand-drawn backgrounds that make up their world. The “camera movements” in this film are particularly noteworthy; without the use of 3D models or digital drawing programs, backgrounds are animated in the same way as characters, meaning every panning on the screen or change in the angle of an object is painstakingly drawn , frame by frame. Yet the world seems real and believable; at no point does it appear that the viewer is simply looking at a flat piece of paper. Instead, each frame is a painting in itself, and the audience is allowed to watch this wonderful story unfold in a wash of fascinating color and beautiful works of art.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
It would be difficult to find an animator who does not appreciate the illustrations of The nightmare before Christmas, directed by Henri selick and produced by Tim burton. Even those who don’t like the film in general take note of the grueling process of stop motion and creativity behind the cast of this film’s visually exciting and eerie characters. Composed mainly of stop motion animation, with some 2D animations added for some effects and details, The nightmare before Christmas follows Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and Danny elfman), the Pumpkin King of HalloweenTown, as he grapples with his feelings of boredom and hopelessness in the face of the monotony of his life. In a sudden turn of events, he discovers a world very different from his own, a world of Christmas and winter joy, and becomes determined to rethink his world in his own image.
With over 60 character models, 200 sets and three years production time, The nightmare before Christmas was, like most feature films (and even short ones) in stop motion, a colossal undertaking. Stop motion, which comes in many different forms, is one of the most labor-intensive animation techniques, requiring multiple teams of animators, set designers, character makers, etc. Unlike other forms of animation, stop motion leaves little room for error because the characters and the setting are physical objects that must be photographed frame by frame to create movement, go back to change just one. image or error is extremely difficult, as replay requires resetting characters, sets, lighting, and cameras.
The nightmare before Christmas is filled with complex sets and detailed figures of extreme proportions; the care taken in creating the film is evident in every scene. It really feels like the audience is immersed in a dollhouse world, which just happens to be extremely spooky and ghoulish. The characters, while over-the-top and fantastic, are eerily real and incredibly believable in the way they move and express themselves. The sets, from HalloweenTown to the dark forests in which Jack roams, appear as large as real spaces, despite being handmade and small enough to fit in a room. There are so many secrets and details hidden throughout this film that, despite its popularity, there is always something new to discover while watching it.
The Polar Express (2004)
Based on the 1985 book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express, which follows a young boy’s journey to the North Pole via the aforementioned train, is one of the first attempts at realistic 3D animation in fully animated films, using motion capture for his characters. Originally intended to be live-action, the decision was made to animate the feature film instead. Director Robert zemeckis, believed that live action costs too much and takes the emotion out of the original story and work.
The animators of The Polar Express used the use of motion capture, aiming to make the characters move more naturally by filming actors live and later animating the footage. The film has consistently received mixed reviews due to its animation as some advertise The Polar Express as visually stunning and a great example of advancement in the world of realistic 3D animation.
Others believe the film falls a little too far into the “strange valley” with its characters and animation not realistic enough for what the film originally tried to achieve. A strangeness seems to permeate the entire film, both in its animation and in its story. Yet rather than creating something too baffling to appreciate, it instead leads to a Christmas story that, while on its surface filled with joy and faith, also has a layer of complexity and darker undertones. . The Polar Express is a must-see movie, not only for its unique story, but also for its dedication to the art of the original book and its determination to explore an area of 3D animation that still made sense. Whether or not he succeeded is a matter of personal opinion, but there’s no denying that the film as a whole is visually captivating.
Loosely based on the story and legend of the Grand Duchess of Russia Anastasia Romonov, this film is filled with the signature animation style of Don bluth, who co-directed the film alongside Gary Goldman. Wintery and whimsical, the story of this film is certainly much lighter than the legend it was inspired by, following the supposed sole survivor of the Romanovs, Anastasia (voiced by Meg ryan and Liz callaway). Fighting amnesia and an imaginative interpretation of Rasputin (voiced by Christophe lloyd and Jim cummings), the young woman is bluntly drawn into the politics and schemes of those who try to win the reward for returning Anastasia to her grandmother.
Or The Polar Express used the use of motion capture to create realistic movement in his characters, much of the character animation of Anastasia is rotoscoped: the process of filming live actors and tracing the footage frame by frame. This technique is not specific to Anastasia; many early Disney films, such as White as snow, used rotoscoping to animate their human figures, and many Don Bluth films also contain rotoscoping animation. Rotoscopy in Anastasia is most evident during dance scenes; the character movements are more precise and a bit stiff compared to the traditionally animated parts of the film which did not use live actor footage. However, this rigidity does not detract from the scenes in which the rotoscope is used; instead, the dance feels real, because, in essence, it is.
The only parts that some may consider negative for using the rotoscope in the film are the faces of the characters, which at times seem a little too real; more lines than what would usually be used in an animated character leads to a strange mix of realism and cartoonishness. However, this quirk is common to many of Don Bluth’s films and should be seen more as a stylistic attribute of his work rather than a detail unique to Anastasia. Globally, Anastasia is both a wonderful winter movie and a great introduction to Don Bluth animation, giving audiences the chance to experience a non-Disney animated princess flick.
Directed by Sergio Pablos, Klaus is an award-winning English-language Spanish film that seeks to explore a new take on both Santa Claus and 2D animation. An alternate version of the origin story of a holiday icon, Klaus is a step away from the traditional and a foray into innovation by exploring the adventures of a lazy mailman and reclusive toy maker.
The film has traditionally been animated, frame by frame, but draws inspiration from 3D animation, seeking to overcome some of the challenges associated with 2D animation; animators and artists turned to volumetric lighting and texturing, to give the film a unique yet organic feel, as well as a multitude of visual styles. The aim was to make the characters feel more like part of the world they inhabit rather than flat designs.
As a result, Klaus is a 2D animated film with a 3D presence; the characters have fullness and are sometimes reminiscent of cel-shaded video game characters, such as those from Nintendo The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Telltale The walking dead. It’s an interesting and beautiful example of how 2D animation can evolve and adapt to a world that currently prefers 3D when it comes to cinema. The film is filled with gorgeous art that complements a unique storyline, and although it is relatively young compared to the other films on this list, it has certainly proven to be a staple in the world of animated films. winter.
“No child left behind!”
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