It’s ba-ack. That’s right, “The Animation Show” has survived its second year and is coming to an end right back where it started: Santa Barbara. “The Animation Show” is the brain child of Mike Judge, creator of “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “King of the Hill,” and Don Hertzfeldt, whose “Rejected” short earned him an Oscar nomination. Now that you know who is backing “The Animation Show,” here is the short and sweet of it. Animation is a cinematic art form the world over. “The Animation Show” has taken it upon itself to scour the globe in search of some of the finest animated shorts and combine them all in one show. “The Animation Show” is an international celebration of a medium only limited by the imagination, and possibly animators’ need for sleep.
It is easy to forget about the artistic qualities of animation in a world full of Buzz Lightyears and Mr. Incredibles. Likewise, don’t get the wrong idea and think that international animation means wide-eyed, well-endowed Japanese schoolgirls who turn into mutant cyborgs in order to destroy who knows what. “The Animation Show” thrives off of pieces that push the technical limits of animation, such as “Pan With Us,” which uses motion capture, or the computer-generated “Rock Fish.” Other films resort to the sensationalism of animation to accomplish the kind of storytelling that the animator wants. “When the Day Breaks” make do with rotoscoping, a method that mimics human movements in its animal characters, and “Ward 13,” which has the greatest Claymation chase sequence in the entire show. Some of the more highly anticipated shorts – exclusive to “The Animation Show” – are “Guard Dog” and “The Meaning of Life.” “Guard Dog” is the latest short from Bill Plympton, who recently animated the Kanye West video for the single, “Heard ‘Em Say.” “The Animation Show” would not be complete without something from one of its two papas, so Hertzfeldt created “The Meaning of Life.” The short obviously bites off way more than an animated short film could ever hope to chew, but what is remarkable about the film is that it was made entirely by hand by Hertzfeldt. That’s right – not a single computer was used in the keystone film of “The Animation Show.” Needless to say, it is incredible to see the thousands of stars of the universe move and rotate at various speeds. Stop and think about how hard keeping track of all that animation must have been.
Discussing “The Animation Show” would not be complete without talking a little about Hertzfeldt himself. The UCSB alumnus works nights and animates everything he does one frame at a time. Hertzfeldt said at last year’s “Animation Show” premiere that it took him the better part of two years to complete his latest short. Hertzfeldt has also shared his concern over the fragility of his work – he keeps his animations in a safe that sits inside another fireproof safe, so as to protect his art at all costs. That is the dedication that is apparent in every moment of “The Animation Show.”
This year’s “Animation Show” started here at Campbell Hall last spring and will have its last stop Friday in I.V. Theater as part of the Magic Lantern Film Series. Tickets are $4 with shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.