Feb 13

Animation – Q&A with Bill Plympton

Animation is such a fun thing to witness. It unfolds as this product, the result of many. I’ve appreciated the craft whether it’s that paper wheel we all made in school, Steamboat Willie that I enjoyed after my dad moved us to Anaheim and worked with Disneyland, or all the amazing advancements appearing in movie theaters. The name Bill Plympton became known to me in high school, when I saw Liquid Television. I then found Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation. Bill is one of those creative people, like my dad, who have pried my eyes open a little wider and let me see even more warm creative sunshine. His animation style is a wild perspective, his humor is delightful (at times twisted), and the shorts always are a treat to hear. I reached out to Bill, and this is what he had to say.
plympton image

Travis Blair: What do you consider to be the “golden rule” of animation?

Bill Plympton: To me, the “Golden Rule” is – make the film short, cheap and funny. That’s what I call my “Plympton Dogma”.

Travis: How do you prepare to create an animated short?

Bill: For me, the most important step is the storyboard. The success of the film depends on the storyboard, because all of the important elements are resolved in the storyboards – the story, timing, dialogue, music cues, editing, camera angles, lenses, shadows, backgrounds, lighting and character design.

Travis: How have advancements in technology improved the animation process?

Bill: I’m not really into computer animation, I prefer hand-drawn animation. However, the digital revolution has totally changed my budgets. In the pre-digital era, half of my budget went to the technical costs: rostrum camera, film labs, film editing, audiotape sound mixing, optical tracks, film prints and negatives. Now, about 5% of my budget goes to technical costs – thank God – and the rest of my budget now goes to artistic pursuits.

Travis: What is your favorite animation style, past or present?

Bill: My favorite films are from Winsor McCay, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and films like “Dumbo”, “Yellow Submarine” and “Mind Game by Masaaki Yuasa. Also, films by Joanna Quinn, Marv Newland, and art by Saul Steinberg, Carlos Nine, Peter DeSeve.

Travis: Images that depict animation have been discovered throughout history. Where do you think animation will be in the distant future?

Bill: I believe animation will soon become the dominant art form because it is a union of the greatest art forms – movies, art and music.

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See more of Bill’s work at his website, and follow him on Twitter.

Image and video credit: Bill Plympton.

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