My friend David Schatsky blogs on artistry in recent CG films.
A rat artist whose medium is food is perhaps as strange as a geek artist whose medium is technology. I suppose a computer animator may feel some kinship with Remy, a memorable portrayal of an artist but also, perhaps, a self-portrait, created by people who once might never have been considered artists in a medium that once might never have been considered art.David Schatsky under, I Was Thinking …, Feb 2009
It's a Nice Commentary. But I have trouble correlating this view with the reality that these feature-length CG films are the product not of an individual artist, but of a huge team. There's no question that artistry is involved. But the individual artistry is of fragments. Even such core individual contributors such as lookdev or creaturedev, or art director, work with pieces, and with their ideas refined and extended by others, selected or rejected by others, and are the result of massive group experiments in what works and what doesn't, as a whole. Computer software used to be, at times, a solitary endeavor, with a single programmer producing a significant new application. Now, software development is all about how to make teams work efficiently together -- agile methodologies, pair programming, scrums... A feature-length CG animation is even larger scale than just about any product I've been around. Animation (and film in general) has always involved large teams; there's nothing new in that. But the scale has grown, the number of roles has proliferated, and we even have human actors providing the acting performed by the synthetic CG characters. The bottom line, I think, is that the role of artist, and the role of geek, have both become highly social activities. The "starving artist in the garret" archetype is excluded from a large swath of modern culture (and was never a good model for an artist, IMO -- it just made for good fiction). I think the idea of "team as artist", and "the art of the team" are concepts that deserve a wider recognition. Individual initiative and vision aren't dead -- not at all -- but the ability to take the initiative within the framework of a team, and to integrate that vision into the overall vision of the team -- that has higher value than ever.