With the archival turn in film and media studies and the increasingly diverse range of archives private, hybrid or institutional that exist both on and off line, animation scholars are confronted again with a longstanding problem. How do we find animation resources that are often dispersed across many different kinds of archives and within much larger collections like the Library of Congress or portals like the European film gateway ?
Many scholarly websites offer resources of direct interest to animation scholars, like Barbara Flueckiger’s Historical Timeline of Colors , with its gorgeous frame samples of animation by Len Lye or Oskar Fischinger, as well as detailed bibliographic resources on specific processes like Dufaycolor (see http://filmcolors.org/2014/04/18/dufaycolor-films-by-len-lye/). Another often-overlooked example are the interviews with ink and paint artists of the classical cel era carried out two decades ago by Women in Animation and housed within UCLA’s larger Oral History Archives. (see http://guides.library.ucla.edu/animation-special-collections).
Recently created wikis like Nic Sammond’s Rarebit: Early Animation Wiki have joined longstanding resources like Cartoon Research (http://cartoonresearch.com) and Digital Cartoon Database (http://www.bcdb.com) and that include scanned images and moving image files. New kinds of user generated DIY sites continue to emerge: hybrid collections that fuse digitized private clip files, drawings and other materials from artists and scholars like Stephen Worth’s AnimationResources.org, a site “dedicated to supporting and encouraging animation education.” In its previous incarnation as the ASIFA archives at www.animationarchive.org, animator, producer and cel restoration expert Worth first created the archive in 2004. Stimulated by a suggestion from then ASIFA-Hollywood President Bill Scott, Worth began working on what he calls the “Digital Animateque” full time aided by a group of volunteers who scanned materials. Animation Resource’s digital archive and library collection now contains 6,000 films, 125,000 images and 1,000 artist biographies searchable by keywords. Similar in purpose to Disney’s in-house Animation library (but unlike Disney’s largely closed access policy to scholars), Animation Resources was conceived as an open source resource for working artists as well as students and scholars. Worth explains, “This isn’t an archive OF animation. It’s an archive FOR animators. That means that in addition to material related to animated films, our collection covers … comic books, newspaper cartooning, illustration and art instructional material.” (http://animationresources.org/about/). Users click on keywords whose links take the user to drawings, film clips and related visual material. After ASIFA ended its connection with Animation resources in 2011, Worth continued it as a DIY non-profit organization based in Burbank, CA. Although most of the site continues to remain open, it now offers additional still and moving image resources for download through a paid subscriber portal.
Animation Resources’ DIY formation and ongoing wiki-like expansion through the collective work of volunteers who scan and upload its materials exemplifies the hybrid and protean nature of online archives today. As a member of both SCMS and SAS I am working on creating an Animation Wiki on Archive resources like the American Historical Association’s site, perhaps to be housed on the Society of Animation Studies webpage. I and the other members of this month’s blog would like to ask for your participation in this project, and in the scholarly development of our work on archives, perhaps through the formation of an organization on animation archives. Please let us know of your interest in helping through the contact information below.
We can create a Wiki resource that addresses the diverse nature of animation studies today, which not only crosses a wide variety of practices, studios, personnel and national contexts, but also includes the diverse range of online wikis, databases, hybrid DIY and conventional museum archives that coexist today. Such a resource will help scholars collectively share knowledge about resources that often remain widely scattered across many kinds of online and offline sites. Finally, such a wiki offers teaching opportunities for faculty to involve students in collaborating by adding entries, as well as scanning materials or writing biographical entries for the archives that are featured on it (such as Animation Resources), enriching resources for current and future generations of artists, scholars and students to explore.
Professor of Film Studies at Victoria University, Wellington, NZ, Kirsten Moana Thompson is the co-chair of the Animation Scholarly Interest Group (SIG) of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), as well as a member of the Society for Animation Studies (SAS). She is currently working on a book Animation, Color and Visual Culture. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org