Bringing animation to life

Animation is one of those things that computer people say computers can do better. What, draw all those fiddly frames in between? This machine will do it for you in seconds! Which is all, as duck-haters say, perfect mallards. Craft is an essential part of this art as of any other - walk round the animation section of MOMI, for instance, and see if you don't laugh in wonderment at 60-year-old Starewicz films.

And we Brits, of course, do it pretty well nowadays - Nick Park won an Oscar for the sublime Creature Comforts, and now three more Channel 4- sponsored artists have nominations for this year's Best Animated Short Film gong.

Bob's Birthday (9.45pm C4) is grown-up suburban surrealism. Dentist Bob is having a mid-life crisis while his wife is preparing a surprise party. Cartoon people with noses like pancakes and a very witty script. Lovely.

The Big Story (5.30pm) is a very short, one-joke film done in monochrome with 3-D models; showing with it is Triangle, much more self-consciously "arty". A nude man and woman are dancing, coyly rendered in smudged pencil, until a Triangle intervenes. The Triangle's a Shamaness, right? So things go all abstract and airbrushed and not very compelling. Charlie Hart's music, though, is great stuff. Non-verbal animation really needs music, like dance does. Like Prime Minister's Questions does - deafening Wagner should do the trick.

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