KAL goes 3D and animated for the Economist…

In March this year The Economist.com launched the first animated cartoon by Kevin ‘KAL’ Kallaugher. A somewhat navel gazing start, I think it’s fair to say, but exciting nonetheless. I’ve discussed KAL’s development of a 3D project before (here and here), and it does look great now that it’s coming together. As far as I know he does the voice of Dubya himself whilst operating the digital puppet with a joystick. Fun.

I still think the design process is too laborious for it to become a mainstream way of working in the near future, but KAL overcomes the ONE thing that we keep mentioning when we discuss whether animation is a viable way of working – TIME. No matter how simple you do ‘traditional’ 2D animations – even with a well built up library of templates and characters, it still takes a lot of time to produce an animated sketch. KAL can respond instantly. As he does the voice, he can even do it LIVE.
There is one thing though, that I’d be curious to know, and that I will be sure to ask him next time we meet; What about movement, such as walking, jumping and punching?
Can that be done real time? Can it be done by one operator? Can it be done in stages?

If it’s not there yet, I’m sure it’s right around the corner, but it’d be interesting to see how the character now move beyond the Press Conference area…

Either way, I think KAL has found the way to make it financially viable in the future.

Bloomin’ heck.

I got myself curious and researched it a bit.
One of the current buzzwords in the digital puppetry business seems to be “Machinima”.
There’s a fab blog about everything digital and puppetlike here.


6 Responses to “KAL goes 3D and animated for the Economist…”

  1. Stephen Collins Says:

    Time’s not just a problem in production, it’s also this new element of time and ‘performance’ within the cartoons themselves which trad comic artists / cartoonists just aren’t used to… I think (Here comes the po-faced student bit…) the act of moving from frame to frame as you’re reading, and so ‘giving yourself’ the punchline (or in a single frame cartoon, just reading it yourself rather than having it performed at you) is a big part of the humour which doesn’t exist in animations. And then there’s that chestnut about the aspiration of a cartoon is not to be animated any more than all books are failed screenplays…

    I reckon there’ll be a new sort of genre of cartoons that use the medium in a traditional way but still look great on the web. I just think there’s no point in trying to catch up with true animation, cos nowadays if it’s not the Simpsons, it’ll suffer by comparison cos that’s what we’re all used to…

    When I am King on http://www.demian5.com is a great example of what I’m talking about, it could only have existed on the web and nowhere else, and it uses animation to improve on trad techniques…

  2. poldraw Says:

    You’re absolutely right Steven.

    The reading of the cartoon is so important, and as you say, so is the performance etc. Not all cartoons make a good leap into animation. See Dilbert for example, to take a comic. Hillarious in print, but completely lacking the winning deadpan element when animated.

    And the performance element. Because cartoonists mostly do their cartoons alone, they will try to do everything in an animation too. Someone who does it well is Sam T of http://www.ebolaworld.com . But most of the time the performance is severely lacking when cartoonists go it alone.

    The writing is also completely different. You can’t necessarily translate a single frame cartoon into a funny animation. Or a multiframed one for that matter. Timing the punchline for animation is different to the timing in drawn frames.

    I think people like Daryl Cagle have a point when they say we shouldn’t all scramble to do animation. However to have the opportunity for the first time in a long while to take our profession into a brand new sphere, is hugely exciting. Most of us will undoubtedly fail to enhance what we do on paper, but others will excell. And we’ll just have to hope it’s room for everyone.

    I love the when I am King-stuff. Never seen that before!

  3. matt Says:

    Yup, this is great and there’s also an interesting debate going on about this at http://www.Wisenheimer.com a good US discussion board on all things cartooning. (You will need to register with Ted Goff who runs it.)

    Stephen makes some good points about the different attitude and skills which are necessary in making an animation as opposed to making a still image move. Morten is right that a straightforward transIation rarely works. But this said, it seems to me that there is room for a hybrid form somewhere between strictly still and the full production nuber of something like the Simpsons. So I guess we should all go off and make something new!

    Thanks for the audio link Morten – listening now…

  4. PressPosts / User / boydjarviscfx / Submitted Says:


    Submited post on PressPosts.com – “KAL goes 3D and animated for the Economist?”

  5. KALtooning update… « poldraw Says:

    […] Kallaugher’s latest 3D animation. I’ve written about his new project previously here, here, oh and […]

  6. Resource and Information Says:

    Resource and Information

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