Discovering 3D Animation

The biggest challenge I have to face for my grad film is the use of 3D. I decided to do it as a personal challenge, to get out of my comfort zone and experience  a different type of animation.

Upon starting this project, I decided to ease up the process and start with a 3D sculpting program, Zbrush, to create my main character. This software, a more artistic one than technical one, allowed me to give the shape I wanted for my character. The interface took a bit of getting used to, but the reflexes were the same than drawing. The research I had to make was very little, looking online for shortcuts and easy ways to do this and that.

However, when importing the mesh into Maya, that is were the real work started. I had to start with retopologizing the mesh, meaning rebuilding the model with a lower number of polygons. I learned later on, that I made mistakes during this process. I did not follow the proportions properly, not giving circular shapes to the important elements.

I noticed this upon taking the next step: rigging. I used Advanced Skeleton, a plugin that gives you basic rigs that you can then shape. The body took quite some time, and I had to make extensive research, using the plugin’s website and Youtube channel as well as Lynda.com. After emailing my mentor, I had a pretty good idea of how to fix the body rig issues. I decided to get on to the face rig. The problem is the face polygons are not regular and not all connecting to each other properly, thus making it, for now, impossible to rig. Going back to the beginning now would be erase a month of work. I do believe now that I would make it faster, nevertheless, I hope to find another solution.

For now 3D animation has been mostly about learning from my mistakes rather than classes or online help. I hope to make the character working well for the final animation.

Why is Walt Disney Company Repeatedly Accused of Sexism

Like most kids, I grew up watching Disney movies.I never wondered about subtext or hidden meaning.

However, integrating this character animation course, the issue was brought a few times. After a while, I finally decided to look into it. I wanted to know why people would make these accusations.

After reading many articles, I could point out two areas where Disney would be accused of sexism: in the workplace and in their representation of women in their animations.

According to my research, it all started with a letter addressed to Arkasan Mary Ford. Mary Ford applied as colour artist at the Walt Disney Company in 1938. She later received a letter saying: “women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men. For this reason, girls are not considered for the training school.”

Someone could argue these were regular practices at the time.

Nevertheless, in 2011, a woman was fired from the Walt Disney Company. She filed for wrongful termination, accusing her supervisor of telling her she had to “choose between working and being a mother”.  The dismissal was blamed on restructuring, however, she was promptly replaced by a young man.

In my opinion, sexism in the workplace is unfortunately still very usual, women do have to fight and work harder than men to prove themselves. It is not a myth but reality.

The other aspect in which Walt Disney was accused of sexism, which I would like to discuss, is the representation of women in the movies.

Starting with the first feature length Disney animation: Snow White.  The movie was highly criticized for representing, in Snow White, a docile and domestic woman. A woman, that would be properly covered, would stay at home, cook and clean, and have no claim.

In addition, recently, Sleeping Beauty was blamed for giving a wrongful idea about sexual consent, more particularly in the scene where the prince does not ask before kissing the princess.

Moreover, there were claims that many movies were representing helpless women waiting for a strong man to come and rescue them. The prince in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and the general Li Chang in Mulan for instance.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel is under a forceful patriarchal law until she refuses her own nature to gain the love of a man, who rejects her.

In Beauty and the Beast, it can be argued that Belle is suffering of Stockholm syndrome after the Beast kidnaps her for the sole point of making her fall in love with him.

Lastly, people were feeling the women were giving an impossible body goal and women objectification. All women have long legs and tiny waist. In Aladdin, Jasmine wears clothes that resembles more a men’s fantasy rather an historically correct costume. However, I blame the rise up of anorexic models in fashion and social media to give impossible body goals rather than fantasy cartoon characters.

After reading these articles,  I believe if we are looking for something wrong, we can always find it. I decide to take the best in those movies. Each of these female characters inspired positive traits of characters. Snow White inspires to be brave, Cinderella to be kind, Mulan to be fearless, Belle to be accepting, to see beyond differences.

I have watched these movies tirelessly being a child, and no matter the criticism, they made me hopeful and positive. I have also grown up to have ambition, to make my work the first priority and to fend for myself.

Movies do not shape you, you shape yourself.