David Levy wrote earlier this week about a new trend in broadcast animation away from the hard-edged "CalArts" style towards a more idiosyncratic "RISD" style.
There's something to this shift away from the geometry seen in kids programming. In part, its production artists becoming more adept at the tools producers are providing (Flash) and squeezing more juice from the lemon. It's also part of the cultural pendulum that design swings through -look at the classic "50s" style exemplified by UPA. That was overtaken by the ornate graphics of the 60s Pushpin school which, in turn, lead to the softshell 70s designs we know best from The Electric Company and Sesame Street.
In my mind, a lot the product he writes about is warmed over "Krause". Fran and Will have created a series of distinct, intelligent films which have trickled down certain sensibilities we're seeing broadcast today. It's no coincidence that their pilots flopped with arrows in the back, while similar shows have gotten picked up by the same execs a few cycles later.
In any event, the purpose of this post is dual 1) to talk about how brilliant Fran Krause is, 2) to brag about working with him on The Buddha for a little segment.
This is strength of the education I've seen from RISD. While producing students who have distinct styles, they also equip (or at least try to) them with the tools they need to be successful professionals in a diverse field.
Honing quirky storytelling skills is important for a student, but more important is learning how to be an animator. That's someone who can rattle out some neat personal films as well as make a string sing.
It's important to remember that even in animation, there is a Middle Way.