Tag Archives: Animation

Emma Allen’s Ruby, an Extraordinary Animation of Incarnation

Animation from YouTube (Link attached below)

A couple of days ago, I received a very interesting video from the Black Calavera Facebook Page that was posted by Ryan Fehily. The stop motion animation was originally uploaded onto Vimeo, this particular clip was produced by Emma Allen an artist who specifically works with ‘animation, face painting and body painting’, as referenced by Allen’s official website. 1

When I first viewed Allen’s clip, I was particularly fascinated with the level of craftsmanship, the face paint featured some decorative patterns and designs that gradually changed throughout the stop motion animation. According to Allen’s Vimeo Page, the animation features the artist who has painted her own face in order to present ideas of ‘incarnation’. The artist animates herself ageing, Allen’s face slowly transforms into a skull that suddenly makes a rapid transition into a living creature.


Allen’s Transformation 

So I began to wonder, what is the definition of incarnation? According to the Australian Oxford Dictionary, incarnation is a psychical ‘manifestation’ from an abstract concept. In reference to Allen’s stop motion animation, the artist becomes an embodiment of life and death through the application of face paint. 2

The name of the clip, Ruby is rather intriguing, this does add a level of mystery to the animation, I have wondered whether the title has a reference or a connection to Allen’s work?

I was intrugued by the skull that Allen had painted onto her own face, for me personally the surrounding darkness becomes a reminder of death and disintegration. Allen presents the processes of ageing, the artist’s facial features gradually change throughout the clip, which is quite a unique concept!

From a personal perspective, the animation does question what actually happens after death? I’m not too sure if there is a specific answer to this question, although it is interesting to view Allen’s own interpretations of ‘incarnation’ 


Images from Allen’s Animation

Throughout the clip, the black and white skull is composed with colourful / decorative designs; Allen’s face suddenly transforms into a range of leaves, branches and flowers that also provides a unique aesthetic. There is a very interesting composition between the skull and the floral patterns / designs, from a personal perspective the face paint does question what happens to the soul when a person dies? Is there another life or entity waiting for us on the other side?

Who knows really, these are very difficult questions to answer, when I first viewed the animation I was convinced that the concept was inspired by ‘reincarnation’ as Allen depicts herself slowly decaying, the clip explores the transition from death to another physical entity or form.

The use of glitter also adds an interesting composition that significantly contrasts with the surrounding darkness. I was instantly captivated by Allen’s extraordinary designs, the glitter also disguises Allen’s features that also provides another creative approach to the animation. Towards the end of the clip, Allen’s face suddenly transforms into a wild cat and the designs appear similar to a lion or a leopard.


Notions of Incarnation

It is interesting to view how the designs change over time, I wasn’t quite expecting to see a lion or a leopard towards the very end, although this does reflect the idea of reincarnation. Allen’s designs are definitely creative and imaginative, it is also interesting to view the combination of face paint and stop motion animation. If you haven’t seen this clip before, I would definitely recommend visiting Allen’s Vimeo page!

Click on the link below to view Allen’s official website!

1. http://www.emmaallen.org/about/

2. Moore, Bruce (ed) The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Australia: Oxford University Press, 1996) 

3. http://vimeo.com/72670988


Image Citations




Pixars latest production, Dia de Los Muertos

24/7/12 – Disney Animation: Day of the Dead as another commodity or a reflection into Mexico’s spiritual connection with the dead?

Disney Pixar has announced that a new animation is under production, which will reflect the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. According to Rebecca Keegan from the LA Times, the animation will feature skeletal characters who participate in the celebration through decorations, activities and memorials.

Pixar are aiming to attract a Mexican or a hispanic audience through their latest animation, which is also known as Dia de Los Muertos (Spanish term for Day of the Dead)

The release date is still unspecified at this particular point of time, although I am surprised with Pixar’s recent production. The Day of the Dead celebration may have been a subject that Tim Burton would have been interested in. It will be interesting to see Pixar’s interpretation of Mexico’s traditional celebration with the dead and I can imagine that the animation will be very colourful or illustrative.

Pixar’s latest announcement, also questions why Disney have decided to produce an animation in relation to the Day of the Dead? Perhaps Disney has identified the Mexican day of the Dead as a popular trend, which may influence the decision to produce an animation with skulls or skeletons.

The animation would exemplify how the Day of the Dead celebration has become a popular commercial product within the Western culture. Are Disney only producing the Day of the Dead celebration due to popular demand or is the company actually interested in promoting Mexico’s cultural and spiritual connection with the dead?

There are two side to every story and the animation would definitely promote the Mexican Day of the Dead Holiday to other cultures. Disney’s approach to the Day of the Dead celebration may also demonstrate the globalisation of the skull through contemporary art forms such as animation or interactive media.

How would children respond to this particular animation? Perhaps the animation would provide children from other Western cultures a positive perspective of death through the visual effects, such as colour, shape and texture.

One can only wonder whether the animation will project the image of the skull as a another commodity or whether the animation will modify contemporary attitudes towards death within the 21st century?

Rebecca Keegan, Pixar’s Dia de Los Muertos movie a nod to Mexican audiences, Los Angeles Times, 2012, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2012/05/pixars-d%C3%ADa-de-los-muertos-movie.html (Accessed 24/7/12)

Image Citations:



The Skeleton Dance

15/6/12 – Walt Disney and the Skeleton Dance 1929 

While searching through the internet, I found an animation on YouTube by Walt Disney from the 1920’s. The black and white animation is called the “skeleton dance”, which I did not know existed until this point in time.

According to Steven Watts, The Skeleton Dance is a dark yet ‘humorous’ animation, which features three skeletal figures who begin to dance or play the ‘xylophone’.

One could argue that the black and white animation is very different compared to Disney’s recent films or animations. The colour and the style of the animation invites one to engage with the dynamic or the rapid movements between the skeletal figures who continue to dance across the screen.

One may relate the Skeleton Dance to Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, which also features dancing skeletal figures who ridicule or mimic the living. Within the animation, the cat’s tail is used as a musical instrument, which may relate to Holbein’s Dance of Death. Even the style of the animation is similar to Holbein’s work or skeletal figures. (Cadafalch, 2010 p. 7-13)

The black and white adds to the visual effects, which causes the audience to interact with the skeletal figures who continue to ridicule one another. From a personal perspective the Skeleton Dance is the most interesting Disney film that has been created. Perhaps the recent animations or films from Disney have become politically correct, although it is very interesting to actually watch something that has character or depth.

Columbia Cartoons: The Skeleton Frolic 1937

Columbia Cartoons have also produced a short animation about a group of dancing skeletons in a band, playing a range of musical instruments.  One could argue that the visual and the audio effects within the Skeleton Frolic are quite similar to Disney’s Skeleton Dance.

Both of the animations feature similar styles or characteristics, although the Skeleton Frolic features dark, monochromatic colours in the background. One could argue that Disney’s black and white animation compliments the skeletal figures on-screen, although the Skeleton Frolic also features an interesting effect, which causes the audience to chuckle at the skeletons misbehaviour.

I kept asking myself why we don’t have cartoons like the Skeleton Dance or the Skeleton Frolic? Were these particular cartoons considered an unpolitical or have we moved on to 3D animation?

Do these particular animations demonstrate society’s ongoing fascination with death or the skull? Has the skull always been an interesting topic or subject?

Watts, Steven. The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life.  Missouri: First University of Missouri Press, 1997. p.38

Dowling, Faye. The Book of Skulls. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011 p. 7 – 13

Foltlyn, Jacque Lynn. “To Die For: Skull Style and Corpse Chic in Fashion, Imagery and Branding.” Scan Journal 7 (2010).

Cadafalch, Antoni. Skull Face.  London: Koreno Books, 2011. p. 7 -13

Viva Calca

12/6/12 Ritxi Ostáriz and the Day of the Dead

According to the Viva Calca website, Ritxi Ostariz creates 2D animations, which reflects the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico. The vibrant colours and the dancing skeletons strongly refer to the festival, which effectively engages the audience through the use of fast motion.

The animation bursts with colour and motion, which invites one to observe the different designs or elements within each sequence.  The audio effects and the sound track is very catchy and once you have watched the animation its hard to forget the lyrics.

Overall the sound track invigorates the visual elements through the continual reappearance of the skull, which elevates the union between the living and the deceased. The official website also explains that there are two different sections to the story, which are presented into two separate screenings.

The first animation depicts the celebration during the Day of the Dead and the second screening features a very drunk skeletal who begins to have strange illusions about ‘pink elephants’

The visual and the audio effects effectively engages with the audience through the pink dancing skeletons. In comparison to the first animation, the second screening is quite dark and one could argue that visual aesthetics feature similarities to Tim Burton’s films, especially the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Viva Calca, “About”, Viva Calca Official Website, http://www.vivacalaca.com/eng/ (Accessed 12/6/12)



Rick Genest (Continued)

3/5/12 – Similarities between Genest and Jack Skellington 

Rick Genest’s official website (Aka Zombie Boy) also mentions how the works of Tim Burton have inspired Genest’s performances. From a personal perspective, I could recognise similarities between Genest’s tattoos and Jack Skellington from the Nightmare before Christmas.

The tattoo’s are very dark, although the different designs or compositions may provide a different perspective of death. One could argue that both Genest’s designs and the Nightmare before Christmas portray the skull as a visually captivating image, which may aestheticise the subject of death.

Genest’s designs are quite angular and sharp especially around the neck, which may feature similarities to Jack’s narrow or elongated structure.  Perhaps the performer and Tim burton’s animated character may minimise the viewer’s fears or anxieties surrounding death through intricate designs and aesthetically pleasing imagery.

Boy, Zombie. “Rico the Zombie Offical Website.” Rick Genest, http://rickgenest.com/index.php option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=113 (Accessed 3/5/12)

Tim Burton. “The Nightmare before Christmas “, 73 Minutes. United Kingdom Touchstone Home Video, 1993.

Magliozzi, Ron He, Jenny & Warren, Kate. “Tim Burton: The Exhibiton “. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Moving Image, 2010

Image Citations

Some Quality Meat, http://www.somequalitymeat.com/special/rick-genest/ 

Shot4shot, http://shot4shot.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/nightmare-before-christmas-1993-selick/

Jose Guadalupe Posada

Calavera Depicting Contemporary Newspapers As Skeleton Cyclists 1889 – 1895

This particular image also features five skeletal figures riding bicycles, which also creates a very animated and dynamic juxtaposition. Every limb or bone is engaged in some sort of movement and the dark strokes in the background may suggests that the bicycles are moving at a rapid pace. The skeleton within the centre of the image may feature similarities with Jack Skellington dressed as Santa Claus within Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas.

Jack Skellington also features a long, white beard, which is supposed to imitate father christmas. One could argue that Jack also features very animated and energetic characteristics, which could be interpreted as similar to Posada’s work or interpretation of the dead. One could argue that Burton refers to the styles that are commonly used within the Day of the Dead Festival and combines them with gothic representations.

Magliozzi, Ron He, Jenny & Warren, Kate. “Tim Burton: The Exhibiton “. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Moving Image, 2010.

Marchi, Regina.M. The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

Image citations:



Stop Motion

5/5/12 – Stop Motion Animation with Skull

After watching Paranormal Activity, I decided to create a quick stop motion animation with the clay/ceramic skull in the spare bedroom. I downloaded a program on the ipad, which composed all the photos into a simple animation. After each photograph, the skull was moved just a small fraction for another shot. The photos were taken with the ipad and the program automatically combined the all of the images in order to create a stop motion animation.

It was quite difficult to take photos with the ipad, especially without a stand or anything to support it. The file was then transferred onto the computer and into a basic editing program, where I was able to modify the animation. Sounds from garageband were then transported into the animation, which was combined with basic sounds from imovie.

Short stop motion animation, will hopefully generate ideas or other concepts that could be used for the project. This is just a test or an experimentation of different techniques and I wanted to explore a medium that I am not familiar with, such as animation. I also experimented with different colours or sounds in order to determine how these particular elements can intensify the actual image of the skull.

I was immediately attracted to the skull’s sparkly sockets and it was quite strange to wake up next to a skull that was staring directly at me. I tried to think of ways to apply the skull with a creative concept.

If I was to produce another animation for the project, I would use a proper SLR camera with a tripod in order to minimise movement. The daylight and the space would also have to be taken into consideration, when producing the stop motion animation. I would then use final cut pro to edit or modify the sequences / frames.

(Video: uploaded on youtube) http://youtu.be/qQgLWiQ6QxI

Barry Purves, Stop Motion: Passion, Process and Performance (Burlington: Elseiver Ltd, 2008) 9-10