Animator praises unsung artists at heart of genre

Thu Mar 1, 2012 8:45am EST
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - When animator Fraser MacLean thinks about his work on movies such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Space Jam," and "Tarzan," he's reminded of the Chartres cathedral, southwest of Paris.

The 13th century Gothic church was idealized in "F for Fake," the 1973 Orson Welles film, during a monologue by the director.

"The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it's without a signature: Chartres," Welles said. "A celebration to God's glory and to the dignity of man."

The anonymous artists of Chartres represent the idea, as MacLean put it: Art isn't about signing your name in the corner of the canvas.

MacLean began his career as an unknown artist, doing shading on the animated characters in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which combined live action and animation.

"That idea that you would surrender your own creative abilities and your own technical mastery to something that would just be a delight to the people that saw it ... in some ways is actually liberating," he said.

MacLean, who grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, returned a decade ago and was surprised during his guest lectures at art colleges.

Students at some schools weren't required to do observational drawing. Having a background in fine art drawing landed MacLean his first job with Disney UK.

At the same time, MacLean was hearing about animation companies looking for students with drawing skills and being unable to find them.   Continued...