The Annecy Siren Film: Matches

The 2012 Annecy Film Festival is currently under way and the focus this year is on Irish animation. My twitter feed is currently jammed with tweets from folks either at, going to or complaining that they are not at, the festival. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see renowned animation school Gobelins tackle one of the more devastating aspects of life in Ireland over the last 40 years; that being the Troubles, in their siren film for the festival.

 

Recap of the 43rd ASIFA-East Awards Ceremony

Last night (Sunday), ASIFA-East held their 43rd annual awards ceremony at the New School’s Tischman Auditorium. As per usual it was a great night with lots upon lots of lovely animation followed by much talking and socialising afterwards.

I thought the standard was quite high this year, with a particularly strong student section that was nicely book-ended by the experimental films, one of which, Old Man by Leah Shore, seems to be getting quite the praise.

My two favourites were Test Train by Brandon Denmark, which is sadly not online yet but development clips can be seen in Brandon’s reel. As a short, it mixed a rather dark plot with a suitably dark design all wrapped up in a soundtrack that was more than appropriate.

The other film that I really liked (and is online – see below) is Orbis Park by Andrew Kaiko which won the tie for Excellence in Design with The Girl and The Fox. Besides a great, humourous story line, it is a very well designed short. Great layouts and colours but above all a superb character design that ticks all the right marks.

Otherwise it was a very fun night with much animation discussions taking place with many friends both old and new. I was also congratulated no less than three times for my winning film, which was most unfortunate as the truth was far from reality in that I am apparently the doppelganger of Mike Rauch erstwhile half of the Rauch Bros. who won best in show for their Storycorps film John & Joe.

I can’t wait till next year. πŸ™‚

Wanna Watch 90 Minutes of Animated Shorts from 1978?

Of course you do.

Thanks to the Internet Archive, here’s a VHS rip of the Fantastic Animation Festival from 1978. Reviewer Donfield describes it thus:

Good collection of animated shorts, mostly in hand drawn, claymation, and rotoscoping techniques. Represented artists include Loren Bowie, Bernard Palacios, Kathy Rose, Derek Lamb, Steven Lisberger, Marv Newland, Paul Driessen, and Will Vinton (“Mountain Music” and Oscar winning “Closed Mondays” featured).

 

The 42nd ASIFA-East Aniamtion Festival is Just Around the Corner!

 

42nd ASIFA-East Fest PostcardVia: The ASIFA-East Exposure Sheet

In fact it’s even closer than that, it’s standing just across the street!

Yes, this Sunday (May 1st) plays host to the 42nd annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival in New York City. If you are not familiar with it, it’s the chapter’s annual awards show although it is much more than simply handing out glittering prizes.

It’s been three (!) years since I first attended and the evening has been an absolute pleasure every time. The festival is a fine display of talent from the East Cost and beyond and with such a wide variety of categories, the films are a joy to watch and provide for plenty of entertainment throughout the evening. If you aren’t convinced (shame on you!) check out the signal film for this year’s festival produced by Dan Meth:

Besides getting to see some lovely films, there is also the opportunity to meet lots of really talented people, or as Mr. Warburton would call them, soooooooper talented people. The evening is a superb chance to meet and greet (and explain to everyone why an Irish civil engineer of all people would attend).

Things kick off this Sunday (May 1st) at the Tischman Auditorium in The New School at 6pm. If you love animation and live near New York, you really don’t have any excuse for not being there.

The 42nd ASIFA-East Festival.
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
6pm
Tishman Auditorium
The New School
66 West 12th Street
NYC
Party/Reception to follow
Admission: Free!

It’s Comic and Cartoon Time This Weekend in NYC!

Via: MoCCA

Starting tomorrow at 9am and continuing through till Sunday evening, the Lexington Ave Armory in New York City will pay host to the annual festival of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, better known as MoCCA.

I’ve never been before, but from listening (and eavesdropping) on twitter, it seems like its going to be a blast. The exhibitor list has been posted contains many, many artists whose work I am dying to see along with plenty of folks I’ve met before and am looking forward to seeing again. Besides that, there will be literally a ton of art on display and for sale.

I will be there on the Saturday (tomorrow) rambling about chatting to people. If you are about the festival yourself and you happen to see me, come up and say hi. I’ll be the tall fella with glasses wearing the brown cap. Don’t worry, I don’t bite (much) πŸ˜›

Is It Time for the New York International Children’s Film Festival Already?

Via: GKids

In a matter of fact, yes it is! Well, in less than a month’s time anyway. I mention it now because the pamphlet arrived yesterday with details of all the screenings and events that are going to take place during this wonderful celebration of cinema.

Of course, just because it has the word “children” in the title does not in any way preclude adults from being entertained too. On the contrary, the films are more than suitable for adults and besides, their are plenty of adult-friendly events held during the course of the festival.

Screenings and workshops are only held on the weekends, so if you happen to live in New York City, you have no excuses whatsoever for not making it to at least one screening. For the rest of us, the roster is full of top-notch films (both feature-length and short form). Many of the films showing are receiving their US premiere, which I think says a lot about the gravitas of the festival and its place in the film world.

Besides loads of great movies to see, there are also numerous workshops (on sound and the green screen) running during the festival itself in addition to ones that occur from February through till July that can give budding filmmakers a chance to learn a few of the tricks of the trade. One workshop that happened to jump out at me was the Flash animation one in July being held by the Rauch Brothers, two extremely nice brother who are more than capable of encouraging young minds towards a career in animation.

The festival normally has at least one big, mainstream film to show. Last year it was The Secret of Kells, which was then only an Academy Award-nominee, so there was much excitement in the atmosphere about whether it would triumph at the ceremony the following week.

The year, the main film is Mars Needs Moms, the motion-capture vehicle of Robert Zemeckis. Think what you will about the film (I know I am reserving my thoughts) but it will receive it’s world premiere at the Director’s Guild of America theatre on March 4th.

Last year I made the trip up for the day (in freezing weather and with slush everywhere) and it was well worth the effort. Sure it took up one of my precious, precious Saturdays, but I had a lot of fun and met plenty of interesting people. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to see films that otherwise might not be shown here in the US and I think they directors do a marvelous job of putting it on every year.

What Makes Film Festivals Cool

Via: Azrael’s Merryland

This coming Wednesday sees the start of arguably the most important festivals for animation lovers in North America. Every year, Chris Robinson and Co. put together the Ottawa International Animation Festival and if you’ve ever read The Animation Pimp (either online or by the book) you’ll have an idea of how much effort goes into making everything run like clockwork.

There are tons of reasons why festivals such as Ottawa are such fun to attend. For starters, you are exposed to lots of new and interesting films that you’ll probably never see down in your local cinema. If you’re artistically inclined, that may pay off handsomely in the form of inspiration. If you can’t draw a straight line, well, you saw some really neat films that will hopefully inspire you in other ways.

Besides the actual content, festivals offer a rare opportunity for animation professionals to socialise. Now I am aware that animators do socialise outside of festivals (for some reason I always seem to meet them at a pub) but never en masse. While this can certainly have its disadvantages, it is safe to say that the ability to meet a wide range of friends, both old and new, far outweigh the brevity of the event.

Meeting fellow animators is enjoyable in itself and I’d be lying if I said that it was all purely for fun. The animation industry (especially outside of Burbank) is heavily reliant on word of mouth. In other words, its more who you know than what you know. Although this may seem frustrating at times, its only as difficult as you make it for yourself. Festivals are a great opportunity to go out and meet some other professionals. Heck, its the same for any industry, plumbers seem to have conventions all the time. Why? So they can build relationships in an industry where a lot of guys work independently.

Larger festivals such as Ottawa (and Annecy in France) may also have a studio presence. This development in recent years is beneficial to both camps. Animators want a job and studios want to find good talent. Putting the two in the same place is a match made in heaven. However, you should not discount smaller ones, such as the ASIFA-East festival simply because a major studio is not present.

So far, I’ve never heard anyone say they went to a festival and had a horrible time. They’ve often been tired, hungover, sick or incapacitated in some way, but they have never said they regretted going. Plenty of people (myself included) regret not going for all the reasons above and more.

If you don’t attend, you can make up all the excuses you want, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. Festivals are guaranteed to bring rewards and can often accelerate your progression up the career ladder, if you play your cards right. With that in mind, you don’t have much to lose now, do you?

Animation in Other Countries

I recently received my first issue of ASIFA Magazine, the quarterly publication of ASIFA International. I served as a great reminder that there is much more to animation than what comes out of the west coast of America.

Around the world there are plenty of indiginous animation industries that are happily supplying local needs without having to export to “the promised land”. Even with my limited experience, I can safely say that the best stuff need not necessarily come out of Burbank.

Perhaps the most well known is France, which is not that surprising given the potency of the French culture. They have also had a few success with films such as Asterix and with TV shows like Totally Spies! produced by Marathon.

Throughout the rest of Europe, there are plenty of small studios workjing on local content. Besides that, there are tons of independent animators, quietly putting out short films (and indeed a few long ones too). Some of these films really do puch the boundaries of animation in terms of their raw design but also in character development and story.

Apart from Europe stands Britain. Despite the dwindling size of the industry there, the number of series that have come out of Britain over the years is perhaps testament to the popularity of the artform there. This is perhaps because of the many, many shows that have been commissioned by the BBC as part of childrens programming and in its youth, Channel 4, whose most memorable production was the adaption of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. Seeing as British shows are made in English (duh), it has helped them find other markets around the world, including America (such as Bob the Builder).

Apart from Britain stands Ireland, whose breakout studio (Cartoon Saloon) was behind the feature film, The Secret of Kells which has managed to crack the US market and garner a well-deserved Academy Award nomination. Along with the lads in Kilkenny, there is also Boulder Media and Brown Bag Films both based in Dublin, both of which have found success either as a production house (the former) or a consistent creative force on the international front (the latter).

In the last 5 years or so, we have seen the rise of studios from the likes of China, India and of course South Korea, who even managed to get a home-produced TV show on US screens in the form of a show I can’t remember the name of and Google is currently failing me in. Of course the strong cultures in some Asian countries may have difficulty gaining a foothold in the US market, much the same as anime faced for many years before become widely popular.

The best place to suss out some international animation, is at an animation festival! It is not necessarily true that the biggest are always the best, but they do normally have the widest selection that cater to almost any taste. Example include Ottowa, the just finished Annecy, Hiroshima among many others.

I know I have yet to make it to one, but I am confident that when I do, I will see some fantastic animation that can’t be found anywhere else.

Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation festival

The Cartoon Brew TV Logo

Just a quick note about Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival. It’s a great idea, and one that isΒ  sorely needed. It is a wee bit regretful that only one film a week will be shown, but that is perhaps a result of the Brew’s finances rather than then whims of the Brewmasters.

I am very curious to see what comes of this. Having seen the quality of some students’ work last year at the ASIFA-East Festival, it will be interesting to see how Jerry and Amid curate their own. Will it contain mainly serious pieces or technologically perfect yet personality sterile films? Can we expect a few funny ones in there to lighten the mood? I sure hope so, the world is dour enough as it is at the moment.

The only gripe I have, and I’m sure there is a plausible reason for this is that the film may not have been posted online prior to it’s showing on Cartoon Brew. I can see why this might be so, but I do not see the logical reason behind it. In any event, student films are unlikely to be available from a school standpoint before they are shown in the festival, but c’mon, if I was a student making a film the first thing I would want to do is get it out there in the ether on as many video websites and blogs as possible, especially my own.

Nonetheless, having your film shown on Cartoon Brew will ensure that it is seen by a substantial amount of animation professionals and fans alike, which is certainly the best free advertising you will find anywhere. I’m also sure that if you are enterprising enough to enter your student film in a festival, you will also have the requisite website or blog to back it up. Nothing pains me more than seeing a great student film but having nowhere to find additional information. Hopefully these are smart students and I’ll have no problems finding their blogs.

Nonetheless, I admire the effort of both Amid and Jerry and judging by their previous broadcasts on CBTV, I think we will not be disappointed.