Friday, December 31, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
|(Skip, Stephanie, Marla, and me)|
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I went into the movie theatre cold. Rather then read previews and look over spoilers, all I did to prepare for Tron: Legacy was listen to the Daft Punk soundtrack and read the graphic novel that describes what happened in the period of time between the first "Tron" and "Tron: Legacy". I have to admit, no matter how much I enjoy Daft Punk (and how excited I was to hear that they were doing the soundtrack), when I actually heard what they produced, I was uncomfortable, partially because it was so different from their "Interstellar 5555" album--"Tron: Legacy" has a much more heavy industrial feel when compared to the pop/disco/dance club feel of their earlier work.
All-in-all, it was a good sequel. Like all sequels, it has its flaws. But the positives outweighed the negatives. I would have liked a little more time on the game grid, a story that was a little more solid, and even though it was handled very well, I don't like 3D films. But the acting, visuals, VFX and animation were very good. I liked the '80's culture references and the soundtrack fit the movie perfectly (the Daft Punk cameo was amusing).
I think that the original Tron was a roller-coaster ride because it broke new ground. But by the time "Tron: Legacy" screened, we'd already been through "Ghost in the Shell", "the Matrix" films, and "Technotise, Edit and I"--really, we've been set up to be a little deflated with that 'been there done that' feeling. That's kind of why I feel that if they made the script just a smidge stronger, it would've made a really big difference. But in the end, I feel I got my money's worth out of "Tron: Legacy". I'll go see it again several times before it leaves the theatres and Disney is guaranteed a DVD sale from me next year--I just hope they put a ton of 'making of' features on the disk. :)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I told them, "I do not think people go out to public events such as concerts, dance, lectures, movies and the theater to listen to members of the audience talk during the presentation."
"I never thought of that," the person replied.
~ Reg Hartt, quoted from his monthly Cineforum e-mail, dated Monday, December 13, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Graham Annable has a twisted sense of humor that can sometimes meander a little too far into the abstract for my tastes. But with this animation, he shows off his good sense of timing with a solid set-up for a short little gag film.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
PATHS OF HATE long trailer from Platige Image on Vimeo.
The first thing that I noticed about this film's trailer is the similarities to the 'Gremlins' sequence from the original 1981 'Heavy Metal' movie.
Both films attempted (and succeeded) in portraying animation using a rendered-in-ink, comic book/graphic novel visual style. The interesting thing is that both films started from a 3d foundation. Platige Image's website states that they created 'Paths of Hate' as a 3d modeled and animated film and rendered as a 2d animation. The 'making of' section of the 'Heavy Metal' DVD illustrates how the B-17 sequences were filmed off of a detailed physical model and then rotoscoped in the 2d visual style. So, pretty much the same conceptual foundation, just two different technological approaches to the final product.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I really enjoyed this movie, really enjoyed it--except for the the song-and-dance numbers. They seemed too forced and just didn't fit the mood of the film. Everything else was spectacular--story, voice acting, animation, sets, character design, everything! Like 'Princess and the Frog,' when Disney stuck to the story, I was hooked! However, as soon as someone started singing and dancing, I was bored out of my skull.
I hope Disney makes money with 'Tangled' and I hope they make more films, but I really hope that they return to my personal favorite period of time in their cinematic history: when they broke out of the "Disney mold" and made films like 'Atlantis,' 'Emperor's New Groove,' and 'Lilo & Stitch.'
One thing worth mentioning, something that I don't think is coming through clearly in my review, is that I'm not anti-musical. There's definitely a place for the 'Rogers and Hammerstein' animation--Disney has already proven that (which, for me, started with the 'Little Mermaid' since I don't remember seeing the pre-80's Disney films in the theatre). But just like comedy, song and dance numbers are difficult to pull off well--as anyone who has watched 'Anastasia' and 'the Swan Princess' can attest to. Both were cute films with relatively engaging stories, but the song and dance numbers either didn't seem to fit or lacked a certain spark.
The only song number in 'Tangled' that I thought was seamless was when Flynn and Rapunzel are sitting in the boat right at the time of the lanterns being launched. And I didn't have a problem with the dance scene in the marketplace (don't remember if anyone was singing during that dance number). All the other song-and-dance numbers felt jarring. Honestly, it felt like there was someone in development with a stopwatch, counting time between scenes with dialogue and scenes with story progression who was just waiting to say "okay, we've hit the five-minute marker. The quota for non-singing dialogue has been met, it's time to throw in a dance number." I felt the exact same way with 'Frog Princess' but didn't think much of it at the time due to the fact that I don't like Jazz. It wasn't until I saw 'Tangled' and had the exact same problem while watching the film that I realized there was a marked difference between Disney's older films and their current efforts. And I'm not exactly sure where the transition starts since I haven't seen 'Brother Bear' or 'Home on the Range'. As this transitioning issue is rather difficult to articulate at the moment, when 'Tangled' comes out on DVD (and I add it to my collection), I think I'll do a side-by-side comparison with 'the Little Mermaid' to see if I can pinpoint exactly what is bothering me about the recent Disney musicals as compared to their older films.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Marla has two qualities that I quickly learned to appreciate:
1. No matter how busy she was, she always made time to look at my work and encourage me to do better and to be better than I was.
2. She was never afraid to point out that I was full of crap when I was.
It may sound flippant at first, but the older I get, the more I have come to appreciate honesty. I can easily find dozens of people who'll tell me what I want to hear, but someone who tells it like it is with the point of making you better at what you are attempting, well, that's an increasingly rare thing. Marla didn't just look at my work, she took the time to study it and she knew me well enough to know where I was cutting corners, or not living up to what I could produce, or just not pushing hard enough against my mental/emotional/artistic boundaries.
Marla has this little technique that would always snap me right back into reality. Whenever I got into that argumentative rut--usually about some task that I didn't think I was able to pull off--she'd just agree with me and follow it up with 'so what are you going to do?' Those two sentences turned out to be a surprisingly effective tactic. It effectively left me with nowhere to go and confronted me with the end result of what would have been an hour's worth of arguing in the space of one minute. And in almost every case, it provided a moment of clarity (as I usually stood there with that 'deer-in-headlights' look) where I could see the absurdity of getting worked up over an issue when I should have been brainstorming possible ways around the problem.
A major theme of my time at R.I.T. was unlearning years of learned behavior. Both Erik and Marla did a masterful job of shepherding me around those ancient emotional landmines that had stymied my efforts towards personal growth. As I look back over my notes from their classes, I have to say that I learned far more from those ten or fifteen minute, one-on-one meetings where they would close the office door and confront me about my learned behavior and point me towards a direction of maturity. To Erik and Marla, the role of a professor was always more than just teaching animation in the classroom, it was about being a mentor, surrogate parent, confessor, cheerleader and psychologist to a bunch of overgrown kids whose enthusiasm often outstripped their artistic ability and emotional maturity.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
So, back to the TAIS workshops. Since I've been enjoyed the works of Norman McLaren and had never learned much about Pixilation--even though I've really enjoyed the works of PES and Oren LaVie--I figured that it was time to learn a new style of animation. Enter Bryce Hallett of Frog Feet Productions. Bryce is an independent animator who studied animation at Canadian powerhouse Sheridan College before striking out on his own to create Frog Feet Productions. In the past, Bryce also created the illustrations for Ellen Besen's book "Animation Unleashed".
As a member of TAIS, Bryce was kind enough to give us a brief history of the pixilation technique, show us examples (explaining how the animators performed some of the trickier sequences), and then provide us with a list of his own tips, tricks, and things to watch out for when we attempted our own pixilation movies. And then we were off to the parking lot with cameras, tripods, props and human puppets.
Despite the limited time we had during this two day session, everyone had the chance to work both in front of and behind the camera. And we all had the opportunity to see an idea of ours played out (mine was the butterfly animation above--an idea shamelessly stolen from an animation test that Jessica Bayliss performed while in college). Some of us worked through simple ideas designed to learn technique, some filmed one-cut gag films (like mine), but one group made an entire vignette about a boy and his ball which included multiple scenes, all filmed without having to delete frames from the camera and re-shoot.
By the time the workshop ended, not only had we all learned a new technique, but we had also had the opportunity to do two things that are so often lacking when working on client work: play and experiment. The TAIS workshops are like one big sandbox where you can play with your friends and nothing you do is wrong so long as you create, edit, revise, learn, and create again.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Looking at this from an animation standpoint, I love the cat's smooth motion and split-second expressions. Watch when the cat tips over the box from marker :45 to :46. In one second, a maximum of fifteen frames if he's drawing this animation on twos, the cat goes from being compact with limbs tucked in to spread eagled to being compacted again, albeit in a box. The amount of motion, body language, and expression that takes place in just that one second is enormous--to say nothing of the timing necessary to pull off that gag. Mr. Tofield is simply a master at drawing these split-second expressions that parody a real-life cat's reflexes.
Also observe the layered actions at marker 1:33 when the cat pops out of the box--first one ear and then the other as the head moves and the eyes look around. Mr. Tofield draws the cat--moves the cat--not as a single entity but as a series of individual parts. Observe the motion of the cat's legs at marker 1:50. There's no symmetry in the motion, which is intentionally jarring to our expectations but breathes more life into the cat.
As an added treat, check out this animated commercial for Felliway, a diffuser spray for cats. Not a Simon Tofield production as far as I know, but amusing nonetheless.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The only thing that fell flat was the overreliance on music. Some of it worked, since it highlighted Megamind’s pompous attitude. But it got old really fast. And the dance number at the end left me wondering if they didn’t know how to end the movie so they threw in a dance number. I was squirming in my seat when they did this with "Despicable Me", but at least there, it kind of made sense in the greater context of the film's previous scenes. Here, it just feels awkward and out of place.
Other than those two quibbles, I thought it was a very fun movie. Liked the character development. Thought the fish was very amusing. Enjoyed David Cross's voice acting. And really enjoyed the relationship dynamic between Metroman, Megamind and Roxanne. Don’t know if I’d go see it again in the theatre, but will probably pick it up on DVD.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
From the school that brought us Vladimir Kooperman's "C-Block", this rather touching animation is from Sheridan College student Chris Darnbrough. The sound levels are kind of across the board, so sometimes it's really hard to make out what the characters are saying, but the staging, character design/animation and pacing of this film is such that you don't really notice or need dialog. I think that he could have made the characters mumble intelligibly in a tone that was appropriate for the scene and it would've worked just as well--the characters' expressions and body language really carry their emotions and intentions.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Nine Nation Animation
Detroit Film Theatre
Screenings on November 6, 7, 12, & 14
- Saturday, November 6 at 7:00 & 9:30 p.m.
- Sunday, November 7 at 6:00 p.m.
- Friday, November 12 at 9:30 p.m.
- Sunday, November 14 at 4:00 p.m.
"A cat and mouse carry on a dysfunctional relationship sometime in the future. Two blue collar workers dissect the meaning of “normal” as the world disintegrates around them. A matchbox succumbs – much to its regret – to the allure of a cigarette. A handful of people recall various encounters – triumphant or terrifying, euphoric or everyday – with a universally unforgettable human rite of passage. Nine Nation Animation presents a selection of imaginative and cutting-edge award-winning short films from some of the world’s most renowned festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Annecy, Clermont-Ferrand and others. Nations represented include Norway, Turkey, France, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, Croatia and England. This bracing, thoughtful, sometimes hilarious program is recommended for persons over 18."
My Dog Tulip
Detroit Film Theatre
Screenings on November 19-21 & 26-28
- Friday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m.
- Sunday, November 21 at 2:00 p.m.
- Friday, November 26 at 9:30 p.m.
- Saturday, November 27 at 9:30 p.m.
- Sunday, November 28 at 4:00 p.m.
"Based on the celebrated 1956 novel by J.R. Ackerley (We Think the World of You), the deeply touching My Dog Tulip is the first animated film to ever be entirely hand drawn and painted using high-definition paperless computer technology. Though the middle-aged Ackerley had never previously been known for his love of animals, he nevertheless decided to adopt what he described as an “intolerable” 18 month-old German shepherd with whom he quickly fell in love - in spite of her erratic and often inconvenient behavior (sometimes seen in vivid detail), as well as her distinctly canine tastes, attitudes and appetites. Absorbing, visionary and bittersweet, My Dog Tulip comes as a gently breathtaking surprise, enriched by a memorable vocal characterization by the great Christopher Plummer as Tulip’s devoted owner. Featuring Isabella Rosselini and the late Lynn Redgrave."
Monday, October 25, 2010
Feels odd with all these students here. Heard that a college in Massachusetts brought 100 students to this festival! Skip said that there were thirty students from R.I.T. It's good that there's so much interest and that they're here--hopefully learning and networking. Seems bad that it might be harder to bump into people I know. Even worse that there doesn't seem to be enough workshops that would help the kids further their careers.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This animated spot for Cartoon Network Latin America was produced by Vetorzero.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
At its core, this is a short gag film, but what really sells it is the motion of the characters. Not only do they have mass but they have believable motion that is specific to the person. The little girl is slower and a little unsteady in her own skin, almost bordering on being overcautious. The little boy's motion is energetic and innocent, bordering on foolhardy. And the father is quickly overwhelmed as he tries to be everywhere at once. Just watching how the characters move, my suspension of belief transitions seamlessly into the animated medium and I'm left believing that the animator saw something like this happen in real life--and all it took was a few simple exaggerations to create a funny and absurd film.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
One: the denominations of the bills are increasing through every stage of transition from one model to the next, so kudos to the animators for the attention to detail (and thanks J'Ben for pointing this out). It's a very nice and subtle touch to both the models and the film.
And two: after the first model, the animators use a series of moving camera angles and close-ups on a particular body part to mask the transitions from one figure to another. I'm assuming that this is done due to the excessive complexity of one paper origami figure folding and refolding into another more complex origami figure. It looks like one of those "we can do it, but not in the time and budget allotted for this project, so let's try this instead" moments in filmmaking. And I'm not knocking it. It works and works well for this animation. I have to think that the animators went through several renditions of this commercial as they had this incredible, very complex idea and needed to bring it down to the realm of what they could achieve with the resources they had. My first year film at R.I.T. was like that. I had a great idea for a motion comic (before motion comics were the big thing) but lacked the skills to pull it off in the time we had for the project. Ultimately though, through an honest evaluation of my abilities (and a little tough love), Erik helped me choose a concept for a short animation that was better suited for both my skill level and the time we had to complete the project. 'The Chameleon' ended up winning second place at that year's SMTPE/RAVA festival, so Erik's opinion certainly held true on that project.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 3-4:50 PM
154 Lake Superior Hall
Thursday, October 28, 7-8 PM
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Now I freely admit, as an independent animator, I work outside of "the industry." So I have not experienced first-hand the trials and tribulations of working in either broadcast animation production or theatrical animation production. However, as someone who has lived and worked in Michigan for the better part of my life, I have experienced first-hand the economic downturn of the outsourcing that is rampant in both the automotive industry and the computer programming industry. I actually left computer programming for good when the industry shifted major assets to India in the late-90's/early-2000's. Having seen what outsourcing did to manufacturing in Michigan, seeing call-centers shutting down, and watching contracts for computer programming dry up, well, I saw the writing on the wall and shifted into another career while I could do so on my terms (for the most part).
Pundits on NPR are constantly saying that once manufacturing leaves America, those jobs won't come back. I don't know if that's true or not since we're seeing some call-center and computer programming jobs (two staples of the Indian service economy) start the long exodus back to America. Could we then expect to see a return of animation jobs to America and Japan? Well, I'd be willing to bet we'll see it in Japan long before we see it in the United States. Reason being: Japan has a history of protecting their cultural 'treasures' through their Cultural Property Preservation Act. There are currently a number of artisans in Japan (for example: potters, sword-forgers, and paper-makers) that preserve the historical Japanese techniques of producing said items of cultural value. These so-called 'living treasures' are really artisan-curators of the techniques that Japan wishes to preserve. Given the rich history of Anime, I can easily see Japan taking the necessary steps to preserve the history of their animation industry--whether it will cause a rebirth in the industry or just turn it into another niche market in the historical sector, only time will tell, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
As for here in the United States, where oftentimes profit is seen as preferable to preservation, it looks like private funding of historical and cultural preservation is far more prevalent than using public funds to save our history. While most of it wasn't directly related to animation, I did do a lot of travel this year--mainly to museums and locations of historical interest like the Smithsonian, Gettysburg, Stonehenge, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Musee d'Orsee (places that revive those creative juices and offer people like me opportunities to drum up some future business). I would encourage people to take time out to visit museums, particularly ones where you can see men and women practice production techniques that have historial and cultural value, much like those seen at Plimoth Plantation, a not-for-profit, living museum, which houses blacksmiths, embroiders, furniture makers and other artisans who preserve manufacturing techniques from the American colonial times.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
So here's the story: animation directors Ed Patterson & Will Studd (who both have worked for Aardman Animations in Bristol, UK) formed a company called Sumo Science. Recently, they took a Nokia mobile phone and a microscope adaptor (which was invented so that medical personnel in remote regions could take detailed pictures of blood samples and transmit them to hospitals for analysis) and created the smallest animation ever. One of the fascinating things about this animation is how they created the main character. As you'll see in the "Making of" video, the character was 3d modeled in a computer, then 'printed' using a 3d resin printer, hand painted, and mounted on wire so they could position it in the animation.
I won't spoil the rest of the story, but suffice it to say, both the animation and the "Making of" video are well worth the time spent watching them.
Nokia 'Dot' from Sumo Science on Vimeo.
"The Making of Nokia 'Dot'"
The Making Of Nokia 'Dot' from Sumo Science on Vimeo.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
As the story goes, three villians (two starfish and a jellyfish) have left the sea in an effort to increase the world's temperature, melt the polar ice caps and cover the planet with water--thus enabling the sea creatures to take over the world.
PLANKTON INVASION, the web series : The North Sea Crab from THURISTAR on Vimeo.
The character design and animation in these short webisodes are both pretty solid, as is the editing. The vignettes are a pretty humorous series of gags that are usually dealing with the scale of the operation versus the size of the villains. This webisode, the North Sea Crab, is second in the series of five on the Plankton Invasion website, but all are worth watching.
The best news of all is that the creators of the show, are working out a deal with Canal+ and VAF! to bring this internet series to television. Hopefully, we'll see it in America soon.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
What I love about this film is that there is no dialog and yet the intent of the story is clear. Timothy Chan and his fellow students animated the characters in 'Doctor Fish' using a visual language of motion and expression. As you look at the body language and facial expressions, there is no mistaking what is going on in the lives (and minds) of the animated characters. As you watch the film, take note of exaggeration in the characters' motion. This is a beautiful application of the principles of animation found in most textbooks. And while it may look like comical overacting in a live-action (or motion capture) production, it works perfectly in animation.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I almost didn't go to Grad School. My grade in my major was a solid 3-point-something. However, my overall GPA was closer to 2.5-ish. But I had been working on little animated films with my friend ChuckBill and had written some short stories, all of which I sent on to Erik Timmerman. The story he told me when I started grad school was that there was some serious debate as to whether or not they would accept me in the M.F.A. Computer Animation program. Given my grades, the board wasn't sure that I could handle the workload--especially given that I'd be moving from a semester system to the high-pressure quarter system that R.I.T. uses. But, as Erik told the story, he said to the board: "I've talked to this guy and read some of his writing, he can handle it. Let him in." And I was accepted to the roller coaster ride that was grad school.
|(Erik Timmerman, circa 1988)|
As I approached graduation, Erik paid me perhaps the greatest compliment he could have--he pulled me into his office and said that he was going on sabbatical for medical reasons. R.I.T. was looking for someone to take over for him while he was gone and he said that I should throw my name into the ring. Well, I'm ashamed to say that I never did. Although I knew the material, I didn't think that I was experienced enough to teach his classes. Erik said he understood and smiled at me in that way that he always did, the way that communicated, "you might not think you're ready now, but I think you are, and I think that when you're realize that you're ready, you're going to be excellent."
Erik once told a classmate of mine that Spring was a sad time of year for him. As Elouise would later write in her blog, Erik said that "Every year, all these students leave...and I am still here. I don't think they remember me."
Erik was the man who taught the first animation class at R.I.T. He was the man who started the computer animation graduate program at R.I.T. And he was the man who gave many students a chance to live their dreams. One day, Erik may well just be another name on a memorial brick and a footnote told to students on their first day in the animation program. But his presence will continue to be felt by future generations of animators who graduate from R.I.T., whether they knew him or not.
Photograph from Andrew Davidhazy's Retired Professors and past colleagues from the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at RIT webpage.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I first encountered his work when I purchased the initial release of "Ghost in the Shell: Innocence" at Best Buy and it came in a shrinkwrapped 'double feature' package with "Millenium Actress." After getting my GITS fix, a few weeks later, I watched "Millenium Actress" and was transfixed by the ingenuity that I saw on the screen. The story is about two documentary filmmakers who are interviewing a famous actress nearing the end of her life--a time when her career had been over for years. Satoshi Kon found a way to integrate the actress and the interviewers into the flashback narrative structure that kept the story from becoming an endless series of flashbacks bookended by talking heads. While perhaps not one of his more well known films (due to it's non-traditional, non-typical Anime story), "Millenium Actress" set the stage for his 2006 film "Paprika," a mind-bending, visual feast of storytelling that proved how Hollywood should be looking East for inspiration and more complex storytelling.
Satoshi Kon died before completing his film "The Dreaming Machine" and the world of Animation lost more than a director, it lost a true visionary whose films rank on a level with Katsuhiro Otomo, Osamu Tezuka, and Hayao Miyazaki.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
At this point, enough people have posted reviews about 'Despicable Me' and it's story, so I won't waste anyone's time with another breakdown on character and plot points. Rather, I'm going to link to a pair of articles found on Animation World Network's website. Both interviews discuss the ins and outs of producing this film, which I hope students looking at a career in animation will find useful.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
In that regard, Fuggy Fuggy reminds me of the vaudeville-style Looney Tunes characters (Daffy Duck, Wil-e Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester the Cat, Porky Pig, etc), especially from the Chuck Jones-era of cartoons. While it's not a 'principle of animation' per-se, Fuggy Fuggy shows us how "characterization" is very important in animation. At their essence, the Fuggy Fuggy short animations are "gag" films. Like Wil-e Coyote and the RoadRunner cartoons, the story isn't deep, there isn't any major plot, just a series of jokes, gags, and pratfalls. However, it's the character that keeps us coming back. We identify with the main character and his frustrations and we cheer when he overcomes the challenges--laughing most when those solutions are as unorthodox as the challenges themselves.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
You are going into a field where the competition is incredibly fierce, both locally and globally. So you need to stack the deck in your favor. The three best ways I have found to do that are: 1. know someone on the inside, 2. adopt a professional image, and 3. commit to mastering your craft.
1. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Go to animation festivals and get involved in animation societies. Just to name a few in the Great Lakes region: we have the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, the East Lansing Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Toronto Animated Image Society’s Summerjam, the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Branching out a little you can find dozens of animation festivals in other States and countries. While festivals like ELFF, AAFF, and TIFF don’t specialize in animated film like the others I mentioned, they do show animation and will often have special programs dedicated to animated film.
If you are serious about working in the industry, then there’s no excuse not to visit at least one festival with several copies of your portfolio and a stack of business cards. And that festival is the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Think about it: the second largest animation festival IN THE WORLD is only a ten-hour drive from Lansing. It will cost you $45 to get an enhanced Michigan driver’s license which will allow you to enter Canada by car, bus or train (in place of a passport/passport card). There are inexpensive youth hostels to stay at right down the road from the festival (or several of you can pitch in for a hotel room). The Ottawa fest is held every year, they’ve got student rates on their passes, and they’ve got a student category so you can submit a film for competition. They even have student portfolio reviews with some of the larger studios. When you’re there, you can meet industry professionals from Disney/Pixar, Starz, Nelvanna, Dreamworks, Laika, and many others—including dozens of smaller studios in the US and Canada.
Here’s the trick: while you’re standing in line to see the films (or waiting to get some grub at the animator’s picnic) you turn to the first person you don’t recognize and ask them one of the three most common questions:
1. So when did you get in? (translation: when did you arrive at the festival?)
2. What’s your favorite film so far?
3. Are you screening anything this year?
So there I am in 2008, at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I'm first in line to get into the evening competition screening and I'm standing there with my brother and his girlfriend. About fifteen minutes before the doors open, the festival organizers march a gentleman right in front of us and ask him to wait there. Eh, it happens. He had a film in the competition and they needed him to be in his assigned seat shortly before the program started. No worries. I glanced at his badge and the resulting conversation started out something like:
"Excuse me sir, are you THE J.J. Sedelmaier?"
"Why yes, yes I am."
|Charles Wilson, J.J. Sedelmaier, Ted Wilson (l to r)|
If you want to work in this field, don't shirk those interpersonal skills. Take a Dale Carnegie course, join ToastMasters, take public speaking classes, spend time meeting new people whenever you are stuck standing in line at the grocery store. Interpersonal skills are often neglected by students as they focus on their studies (or are surrounded by people who just don't 'get them'), but they will pay dividends if you keep them polished, whether it's getting a job, talking to clients, or just communicating with co-workers.