Simulating Life: Reimagining Realism in the Art of Animation
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With improvements in technology, animation as a medium has begun to have fewer and fewer limitations on how close to real life it can become. However, as animation styles seem to be leaning more and more towards hyperrealism, the question becomes not if we can make animation more realistic, but if we should. This essay tracks the reasons behind the widely held belief that cartoons are for children by examining some of the history of animation. Additionally, some of the pitfalls of realistic animation are examined alongside the artistic liberties available in stylized animation. The findings show that realism can fall into a number of traps, such as the uncanny valley effect and emotionless characters, while stylized animation has far more leeway in artistic expression, and is more capable of emotional storytelling. This all leads to the conclusion that, while it does have its uses, realistic animation should not be considered the end goal of animation technology. Rather, the focus should be on telling a compelling story, and in this way perhaps a wider range of audiences can be reached.