Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 5 Animated Intros

The cartoon intro – a show’s 60-second chance to grab a kid’s attention and hold on tight.  I covered part of it a while ago with the Top 5 Cartoon Theme Songs, but there’s another part to consider – the animation.  While some cartoons cheap out and just use clips form the shows (coughDisneycough), most cartoons animate an action-packed segment that boils the show down into 1 minute of awesome.  But some of those cartoons cheat a bit, pouring all their effort into the intro while the rest of the show just kinda sucks. So today we’re looking at the Top 5 Intros Better than their Cartoon.
Superman (1988)

Ruby Spears doesn’t have a track record of great cartoon openings.  Most are a mix of clips from the show and original animation, and neither is particularly impressive.  Superman, on the other hand, has some really good animation in it, particularly when he flies by the building.  But the cartoon itself is pretty basic and shows none of the flourish of the intro.

If I were to go by the intro, this cartoon would be non-stop thrills with a ton of cuts to close-ups and some great transitions.  Instead, the cartoon has none of that excitement, and Nightshade doesn’t look nearly as good, which is a crime. Get it? Crime? Ugh, I’m sorry.

It’s apparent there’s something special about the Jem intro that the cartoon just doesn’t have – Rotoscoping.  For those not familiar with it, it’s a technique of animating over live action film. That way your animation can mimic perfectly how a character and their clothing moves.  That’s a whole other level of cheating compared to the animation in the show.

One of the biggest ways I’ve seen to create a thrilling intro to a cartoon is with special animation tricks, like flashing light or energy (I wish I knew the name of the technique used for that), and Visionaries uses this trick quite a bit, which is what you’d expect when the cartoon is about holograms.  Too bad during the cartoon itself, most of the holograms are presented as solid green or blue objects, maintaining none of the charm of the intro.
Rankin-Bass (Thundercats, Silverhawks, Tigersharks)

This trio, I think has to be the most egregious in the difference of intro and cartoon animation.  Full of fast action and light shows, the intros to each of these cartoons pulls the rug out from under you when you get the main cartoons, full of sloppy animation and mistakes galore.  It amazes me just how big the disparity is, but I still can’t help but watch them each time, because they’re by far the best intros ever made. Too bad the rest of the show can’t live up to the hype.

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