Critique of Animation: Anselm Franke

Categories: ArtCinematographyFilm

Main Argument: My argument is to see how animation and motion capture technology has evolved from the foundations set down by Marey, Muybridge & Faroki.

Marey's and Muybridges contributions

Tienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist and psychologist. He helped with the early development of motion capture as he was obsessed with the idea of seeing things in slow motion what was too quick for the human eye, like a bird flying or a person running but he didn't know how to do it.

His early investigations began to show how to capture motion rather than single still photos, with one example of him using an unusual device he created called the photographic gun, which could 12 shots per second. He used this device to capture the motion of birds and the results were outstanding! In my opinion, it's just like the principles of animation; there is anticipation, as the bird first taking flight, then there's the follow through, the bird continuing its flight.

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In 1883, he created chronophotography.

A Victorian Era device that used multiple cameras at once. His study of locomotive movement is still used to today, for sports and cinema. I think we have come a long way with the development of motion capture, and to think about how much time and effort that was needed to produce moving images just astounds me, especially considering the lack of technology at that time.

Eadweard Muybridge was an English photographer and a pioneer for photographing motion and for his contribution towards motion capture.

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Muybridge wanted to know if a horse was fully airborne while trotting or galloping; to find out, created a setup of 24 large glass plate cameras along a racetrack to test if he could capture motion. It worked! From his footage, Muybridge saw all the movement of the horse and found that all four hooves do leave the ground when the animal is active.

This is arguably the first ever film to date. With the Muybridge endless imagination and his willingness to push the technology at the time to its limits is something that all people should be appreciative of, especially animators in my opinion. The footage has elements of squash and stretch, as the horse shows fleshiness in the muscles and the flexibility in the legs galloping.

Faroki's critique on animation & Motion Capture technology

The German film director, screenwriter and media artist Harun Farocki has always been quite critical of the ever evolving CGI technology that's been implemented in film and video games since his coming of fame and recognition. In his essay film "Parallel,"that discusses the advancing technology used in games and how motion capture technology is used to portray life and movement from 3D generated characters.

I watched a one minute clip from the film online, and it opens with shots of a grassy plane; one real and one computer generated. From the first few seconds of the film, you can already gain a sense of Haruns interest in 3D animation with the comparison between both shots and how they almost look alike. In the thirtieth second of the film, it shows a computer generated ocean and how talks the physics of the water are splashing in the air, quoting, "In a fiction film, we would view this effect from various perspectives.

If the splashing firm is supposed to be a clue for something, like a sunken boat or a concrete coffin." CITATION Har12 l 5129 (Faroki, 2012) In my opinion, this is Harun critiquing animation again, almost as if he questioning,"why have such a cinematic effect in the virtual world, if theres nothing to be revealed?" my reasoning for this is because the idea that 3D animated water moves like it would in a movie.

In Anselm Frankes article, "A Critique of Animation," Another critique that Harun had about 3D animation is quote, "Harun spoke of how digital animation hit a limit (not unlike the "winter of artificial intelligence")  when it tried to reconstruct the human walk (again referring us back to Marey).

I believe that Harun has recognized the limitations of recreating realistic movement from 3D animated characters that have been constructed from scratch, further backed up by Anselms Franke's article, quote, "It always looks mechanical, and never really alive.

I think this could also mean that he thinks that CGI has reached its peak; can technology get any better? If so, why is it that our technological advancements have actually hindered the quality of animation and movement.

How Marey & Muybridges motion capture technology is being used in video games

Marey and Muybridges research have been deeply imbedded into today's cinema, with the use of motion capture suits in which actors lend their gestures to what will later become a digitally animated character, similar to the technology being used in video games.

In Anselm Frankes article, he states, "Between Marey and motion-capture technology lies the twentieth century: the industrialization of death, and the victory of capital. I believe this discusses the capabilities of video games and or simulations that depict large scale battles, reminiscent of war.

What supports this argument is when Anselm Franke further states in the article, "technology in the service of the absolute absense of life, and the reconstruction of life as its inscription into what would be called the "social factory," the subsumption of life under capital.

Again, the reconstruction of life is very much like video games or simulations; you can die multiple times without being physically affected by the large scale battle itself, in which you come back from where left off, essentially having full control of what's happening.

Marey and Muybridge & the uncanny valley:

The "uncanny valley" is a term that I'm quite unfamiliar with, but I feel as though it can be linked with Marey and Buybridge; In Staphanie Lay's online article, she states, "The uncanny valley"is a characteristic dip in emotional response that happens when we encounter an entity that is almost, but not quite, human." CITATION Lay15 l 5129 (Lay, 2015)

Relating this back to Anselm Frankes article, he states, "Technology today has always-already been pushed beyond the uncanny valley, because that valley itself is now bridged by the investment of life into machines.

I feel as though he's outlining that the technology that's being used to create movement from digitally produced characters is now a viable option to create an illusion that something is now real, without having to utilize Marey & Muybridges motion capture techniques, however, it's more expensive to constantly rely on creating realistic movement from technology alone.

What supports this Anselm Frankes Article, that states, "Not only is it cheaper to use real actors in motion capture than to produce characters from scratch in digital animation.Pg. 5 How Marey & Muybridges motion capture technology is being used in film:

Anselm Frankes article, he mentions that films like Avatar used similar methods and techniques like Marey and Muybridge, saying, "A few years back, when Harun was beginning to draft the series Parallel, he was speaking of his interest in the technologies used in films like Avatar.

In particular, motion-capture technology is somehow close to the techniques used by Marey: actors in special suits perform movements in spaces equipped with cameras and sensors.This means the foundational work from Marey and Muybridge was very important for the early production of the film and their contributions to motion capture have proven to be incredible building blocks for creating great special effects seen in Avatar.

What further cements Marey and Muybridges contributions is a quote the article, in which Anselm Franke quotes, "Human actors lend their gestures to what will later become a digitally animated character. Knowing that Marey and Muybridge developed this method to capture movement, Avatar uses the same technique but incorporating technology to create the alien creatures seen in the film.


I feel as though Marey's, Muybridge's and Harun's contributions to animation and cinema very much matter and I think we have come a long way with the development of motion capture, and to think about how much time and effort that was needed to produce moving images just astounds me, especially considering the lack of technology at that time.

Every year, people are using Marey's, Muybridge and Faroki as a foundation to make technological improvements and evolve animation. Without these people, we wouldn't have all the most of the movies that we all love.


  1. Faroki, H. (Director). (2012). Parallel [Motion Picture].
  2. Franke, A. (2014). A Critique of Animation. Retrieved from e-flux:
  3. Lay, S. (2015, November 13). Uncanny valley: Why we find human-like robots and dolls so creepy. Retrieved from The Guardian:
  4. The Editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, March 1). ?tienne-Jules Marey. Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica:
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, April 5). Eadweard Muybridge. Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica:


Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Cite this page

Critique of Animation: Anselm Franke. (2019, Nov 19). Retrieved from

Critique of Animation: Anselm Franke essay
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