Tim Burton – A Pioneer of Animation

Tim Burton was born on August 25th 1958 in Burbank, California. Burbank is known for its links to the movie industry; particularly animation studios. He made short films in his garden using 8mm film. These included ‘The Island of Doctor Agor’.

imgres-2A youthful Tim Burton.

Burton was not a very good student at school and his pleasures lay in drawing, painting and watching films, which his parents encouraged. He cites his early childhood heroes Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss as being huge influences upon his work. At college he studied character animation and graduated in 1979.

Burton’s work as a filmmaker has propelled him into the status of an industry great. Before Burton’s work on productions such as ‘Vincent’, animated films tended to be geared heavily towards the lighter side of fantasy with animals and princesses often being the subject. Burton had extremely different ideas. It was these ideas that lost him his job at Disney only a year into his contract. He was originally employed as an animator for ‘The Fox and the Hound’, however his ideas for character design were seen by bosses as being too outlandish. They felt that he did not conform enough to the Disney style of design. They still recognised his potential though and gave him a much freer role as a conceptual artist. His designs were still just not in the style that Disney wanted to produce, and so he and the company parted ways after just a year.

imgres‘The Fox and the Hound’ went on to become a very popular Disney film.

Tim Burton’s departure from Disney ended up being a great move for his career. It was during his post Disney times that he established himself as a real developer in stop motion. His work on ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ gained critical acclaim. He influenced lots of other filmmakers as he rewrote the genre-old rule that animation had to conform to certain things. His stop motion had connotations of horror and audiences fell in love with the zany worlds he could create.

Burton is classed as a developer in the stop motion industry as he has pioneered new ideas that have never been attempted before. He has used stop motion as a way of animating his weird concepts and drawings that otherwise would never be able to be brought to life.

imgres-1A still from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ that is also used as the title shot. Its dark and gothic tones are vastly dissimilar to other Christmas films that have been released previously.

More modern animated work of Burton’s is the 2012 film ‘Frankenweenie’. This film fell into his traditional pool of films as it was very gothic and contained both elements of fantasy and horror. The biggest difference between Burton’s modern and traditional animated work is the changes in technology behind the animation. More impressive feats of animation can be had as computer software can assist the stop motion animation process. There is just all round better production throughout the modern movies. This includes the lighting and the quality of the shooting, as you’d expect from the advancement in the technology.

imgres-2A still from Frankenweenie. More detail can be seen in the faces of characters than in previous work.

It is clear in much of Burton’s original animated work that there is a theme that he tends to stick to. This is the gothic imagery and characters that all exhibit the same features. These include the skinny limbs and big eyes.

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