For over a year now a series of short documentary films documenting the day to day life of LeSean Thomas has been streaming on Creative Control TV. The final instalment (there's only 5, don't worry) landed a little over a week ago and I enjoyed seeing that other side of animation that we all know exists but always forget to think about.
You may or may not know that the majority of animation for pretty much everything is done in South Korea. Lately a lot of it has been moving out and about to other countries, still predominantly Pacific Asian ones, but South Korea is still the powerhouse of animation the world over. THe problem is that we never hear about it. We know that the US, France, Japan and so on all make cartoons in various guises but the fact is that they just do the creative bits, the fun stuff, whereas the Koreans are the ones doing all the heavy lifting.
I first heard about LeSean Thomas when he did a TED talk about moving to South Korea and what he'd learnt there. It's a pretty amazing, yet also kind of obvious, story of somebody realising that all the work he's doing is being effectively outsourced and wanting to actually get in the thick of it and learn what it's all about. It's a fun and inspirational talk about the value of experiences and also pokes a lot of fun at learning new languages and analysing culture, which I'm all for.
The Seoul Sessions, however, get deep into how the animation process itself works. It's fascinating to see the people involved and how they actually go about their craft. I, for one, am amazed at how much of the work is still done on paper. Sure it all ends up on a computer eventually but I expected the studios to be awash with Cintiqs instead of never ending reels of paper and sticky tape.
I think you can make any documentary interesting but as a reviewer I appreciate seeing these things so that when I do my artistry sections I'll be able to keep in mind that there are real people doing a lot of hard work in here, not to mention seeing what the animators themselves consider classic and inspirational cartoons. But more importantly, you know how I always rag on DVDs for having nothing interesting on them? THis, this is interesting.
Sort it out.
So, you go watch that, I'm off to see what else is on (the answer is everything because all the first episodes are starting to land at once).
(I was going to just leave you with the link to the official page but the official page has the videos out of order and is missing one so you can just watch them here)