John B. Ludwick



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Title: Flashimation: The Context and Culture of Web Animation
Writing Type: Essay
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Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 2006: Intersections
Abstract Summary:

On October 15, 1997, the first-ever cartoon produced solely for the web made its premiere [Sullivan 1997]. Spumco, a Hollywood-based animation house formed by “Ren & Stimpy” creator John Kricfalusi, commonly known as John K., produced the first installment of The Goddamn George Liquor Program after experimentation with Marcomedia’s popular animation and interface-development program, Flash [Tanner 2001]. Although only eight one-minute episodes of the program were produced, the web cartoon launched a new style of animation, which has since earned an unofficial nickname: “Flashimation.” The purpose of this paper is to explore the origins and effects of this type of animation; examine the forces that turned animators towards the web, its visual style, and the meanings with which it is associated; and the effect Flashimation has had on modern animation and the current animation community. Several threads of thought explain the evolution and culturalization of the new-media phenomenon known as Flashimation. Television animation, increasing access to and preference for the internet, the technological restrictions of this new medium, and the availability of animation software itself have coalesced to produce a major change in the cultural reconceptualization and consumption of modern animation. Collectively, they explain a complex and layered transition from “kid-vid” cartoons to short and crude forms of sophomorically humorous animation produced specifically for an adult audience.

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