Database for Animation Studies


Cloud Animation

Clouds are animate forms, shifting and evanescent, mutable and always in movement. They have also long been a subject of imagery, especially painting, because paint, most notably watercolour, as John Constable knew, seeped into thick drawing papers much as a cloud seeped itself through the sky. The drama of clouds in the 20th century was seized by film and it is striking to note that many Hollywood Studio logos use clouds. Clouds from Constable to the Hollywood logos are Romantic clouds. They drift and float, produce ambience and mood, along with weather. But the cloud appears in the digital age too, in more ways than one. Clouds have been constituted digitally by commercial animation studios and used as main characters in cartoons; they are available in commercial applications, such as architecture and landscaping packages; they have been made and represented by art animators. This body of work, kitsch and dumb as some of it is, is treated in this article as emblematic of an age in which the digital cloud looms as a new substance. The cloud in the digital age is a source of form, like a 3D printer, a source of any imaginable form. As such, it comes to be less a metaphor of something else and more a generator of a metaphor that is itself. Now we live alongside – and even inside – a huge cloud metaphor that is The Cloud. In what ways do the clouds in the sky speak across to the platform and matter that is called The Cloud? What is at work in the digitalizing of clouds in animation, and the production of animation through the technologies of The Cloud? Are we witnessing the creation of a synthetic heaven into which all production has been relocated and the digital clouds make all the moves?

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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