My name is Munro Te Whata and I’m an Illustrator/Animator based in Auckland, New Zealand. I want to explore why I love telling authentic stories about our history, our culture and our people with animation
I’m an inner-city kid born and raised Auckland Central so I was exposed to animation at a very young age. We had comics, morning cartoons, arcade games at the local dairy, old cartridge video games and movies. Animation was all around me, so I soaked it up like a sponge and put pen (or pencil) to paper whenever I could. Like most kids, my first animations were done in the corner of big textbooks in class usually involving a couple stickmen fighting.
I loved animation; it spoke to me in ways other forms of media just couldn’t. In elite circles, there is still a negative stigma surrounding animation as an art form and because of that, animation is not supported here in our part of the world the way it should be. Without further ado, here are five ways animation can improve the way we tell stories.
1) Animation lets your imagination soar
Animation is a unique visual tool similar to writing, painting or live-action video. The big difference with animation is that there really are no limits to what you can create. With writing, you are limited to text so everything is described and it is up to the reader to visualize it. With painting, it is how you capture a moment that tells your story so it is just a snapshot in time. For video, you are dependent on what you can film so you are limited by your reality. What makes animation special is that you can see in motion something almost exactly like what you visualize in your head. Only through animation can you do this. It brings worlds to life, adds movement to paintings and pushes past the boundaries of reality.
2) Animation is more engaging and visually stimulating.
Studies show that viewers find animation easier to engage with, therefore it improves the way viewers assimilate the information and helps get the message across better. It can demonstrate processes which would be hard to follow or portray using other visual tools. For these reasons, it can be a great educational resource. Who would have thought we would see a Disney version of our very own Maui on the big screens? Wouldn’t we all love to see more? Maybe created by one of our own?
3) Anime is mostly done in Japan
Japan is probably one of the only places in the world where hand-drawn animation still thrives. It is time-consuming and backbreaking, but it’s also dream-making at its core. It can take the viewer to unseen worlds where they can experience stories from impossible angles. Anything that can be imagined can be animated by hand, so it opens up the world to exciting new possibilities.
4) Video-games are now making more money than movies.
They are made up of animated assets (characters) that can be controlled by the audience. So using animation, you’re not just the audience anymore. You can be the -hero. You could literally step into the shoes of a character and experience a story on a whole new level. How many other mediums can say that?
5) Animators are definitely a different breed of human.
Sometimes the passion to create something is based on the tools available to us. People who animate love animation. They are artists, but not in the usual sense. Some stories can only be told through animation.
Whenever I look at animation I think about the thousands of drawings and hours that went into it, from concept to the final stage, and I can’t help but geek out over it. As book sales dwindle, the animation scene thrives and old stories are revitalised and developed. I hope more artists on our side of the world – in the Pacific – will get on board and help build an animation industry to share our stories with the world.