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Corporate Animation Showcase 6 – Cartoon Modern-esqe

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New month, new showcase, this time around with an old yet revolutionary theme. Dubbed Cartoon Modern by Amid Amidi in his book of the same name, this design approach swept the animation world in the 50s and continued to break new ground every decade after. Its style used strong graphical shapes and colours to express its characters, backgrounds and stories, something that really contrasted to the popular Disney styles of the time. It’s no surprise then to see these minimalist and high impact designs lending themselves nicely to the world of corporate animation. With the use of powerful graphics and stylised designs it can really bring films to life, while keeping them simple and easy to read.

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Our first film this month comes in the form of Midas Card by Manchester-based studio Young. This couldn’t be more Cartoon Modern if it tried. As the first music notes are played, you know you’re in for a 1950s-styled treat. With modern colours and indulgent backgrounds, the film keeps up with today’s modern trends whilst still keeping its parody ideals in check. The character design is true to the aesthetics we associate with Cartoon Modern with their off-centred facial features and sharp lines. The vehicles are also true to form, with their varying proportions and high-rise facades. The repetition of the character’s day is very slapstick and almost farcical, again adhering to the pastiche of what some may consider old time comedy.

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Over to Brazil for the second film, with Copa Studio‘s Para onde vai o dinheiro do Crianca Esperance. I will be first to admit that my Portuguese is somewhat lacking, but who needs to understand the film when visually it is so appealing? This animation really takes on the Cartoon Modern approach and dives in head first. Every nuance has been given the trademark look from the characters, backgrounds and props to even the little things like the intriguing eye blinks (well worth taking a look at). Its fundamentals, once again, lie in the off-centre designs of near enough everything. Using great design tricks such as having background buildings just in line form without fill really help to bring the main actions to the forefront, whilst still keeping you within the design and story. Standout characters throughout and a lovely childish quality.

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Stepping quietly out from the more recognised Cartoon Modern style comes a WWF animation directed by Benedi Yann and Celine Desrumaux. Character design this time comes in the form of the much loved ‘big nosed’ variety, popular in newspaper and TV spots in the advent of black and white commercials. Originally created to stand out on small screens, this style of design has always been much loved and none more so than here. Using black and white tones throughout the film really helps to highlight the multicoloured pledges that domino their way through the animation. Using a boiling effect on these unique characters works really well due to the amount of negative space presented on each of them. With a more complex character design this may have been too much but it really helps to keep it organic. Again the backgrounds are kept minimal, hinting at what we should be focusing on without ever getting over complicated.

These are some amazing examples that I have been wanting to share for a long time. Cartoon Modern design is an aesthetic field that is wide open and varies incredibly. As we see from these examples above it’s still a design ideal that thrives, so lets hope there is another Cartoon Modern-esqe design showcase around the corner.

Don’t forget to head over to the Corporate Animation Showcase Vimeo page to add your films and you never know you could be featured in the next showcase

Items mentioned in this article:

Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation

Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation


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