Trend Report 112- ‘Love, Death and Robots’: The Future Of Film Animation

Hi, I’m Paul Roberts welcome to my PODCAST Channel “THE FUTURE” where I cover BREAKING TRENDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

In our ever accelerating times, keeping ahead of the latest breaking news and trends from the world’s of fashion, music, film, art, tech, activism, is a time consuming daily challenge. Sure the information is all out there, but it is a time consuming ordeal to scan all the necessary sources. As Darwin said survival depends on how quickly you can adapt.

The future belongs to those who prepare today.

In this PODCAST #112 I want to talk about Netflix’s ‘Love, Death And Robots’ series that could possibly show us a glimpse into the future of film animation.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Love, Death and Robots, an animated anthology series that debuted on Netflix on March 15, 2019 shows us just how far animation has come since the early days of Walt Disney. The series dances around, being dazzling, jaw dropping, funny, gratuitous, disturbing and blurs the line between real drama, anime and science fiction.

And now LD&R has been renewed for a second season, according to the official Netflix Twitter account @SeeWhat’sNext. Jennifer Yuh Nelson has joined as supervising director for Volume 2 and will oversee all episodes. If you haven’t seen the first series of 18 short films, you really need to do yourself a favour.

Produced by Tim Miller and David Fincher, the first season of the show served up 18 short episodes featuring adult-oriented science fiction content in a variety of styles, and has carved a niche for itself as an offbeat offering in Netflix’s growing library of original animation and science-fiction programming.

David Fincher and Tim Miller attend the ‘Love, Death & Robots’ SXSW Film. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Despite a fairly stealthy launch, Love, Death and Robots has racked up kudos and a few complaints for its edgy approach and unique visual look. At its best, in episodes like “Zima Blue” and “The Three Robots,” LD&R combines thoughtful and witty high-concept stories with truly breathtaking animation. At its worst, it can feel like the 2019 high-tech version of a 1970s Heavy Metal magazine, slapping a shiny surface on cliched and exploitative material.

LD&R represents a formal experiment for Netflix in at least a couple of ways. First, the lengths of the episodes range from 6 minutes to close to 20, making even the most epic-length installments extremely snackable. Intrepid viewers can binge the whole series in a sitting, or catch single episodes as appetisers or wind-downs from shows that represent bigger commitments. That feels like at least one video format of the future, combining the convenience of YouTube and emerging short-form video platforms with the reach and production value of Disney/Pixar.

Netflix has also reportedly experimented with the running order of the series, serving four different lineups if you watch the show in sequence. It’s not clear what they’re up to with that. The company has denied using user data profiles to determine which viewers receive which sequence, although considering that Netflix famously used all kinds of data to build and target original shows like House of Cards, it seems like this could be a fruitful way to get different folks on board with an anthology-type series in the future.

LD&R is unapologetically adult-oriented in both its themes and its visuals. Several episodes feature nudity, sex, explicit violence, and some category-defying general ickiness that is definitely not for kids. The first episode in some of the running orders – “Sonnie’s Edge,” uses a gang rape as a character-developing plot device, a not-especially sensitive move in today’s more woke political climate (though perhaps the addition of Nelson as supervising producer will address these kinds of issues going forward.)

It’s not the first or only original animated series for adults on Netflix: the great Bojack Horseman is one of several that are thematically sophisticated, and last year’s gonzo anime Devilman Crybaby was at least as extreme in its visuals.

Season One featured a handful of incredibly accomplished episodes. “Good Hunting,” one of the longer entries, is based on a short story by multiple Hugo Award-winning author Ken Liu, bringing Chinese folklore and steampunk together in a beautiful, lyrical, and emotionally gripping mini-epic.

“Three Robots” follows the exploits of three robot tourists enjoying a sightseeing vacation through post-apocalyptic earth, and is the most laugh-out-loud funny of the group. “Suits” features a conventionally-animated action-adventure story of farmers defending their lands against an alien bug invasion using mech suits and technology, with a snap-ending reminiscent of old EC horror and science fiction comics.

Even the failures have something going for them: usually a solid story undone by creepy-looking overly-lifelike 3D animation, or a misbegotten concept featuring tight pacing and flashy visuals.

A new season will give Miller, Fincher, and their global lineup of animation partners even more canvas with which to experiment. It’s also likely Netflix will continue to use this quirky series as a petrie dish for new approaches, formats and storytelling strategies. Based on the first season’s scripts, they should be careful with that. If there’s one thing Love, Death and Robots has to tell us, it’s that our highest ambitions for technology sometimes have side effects.


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