Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Animated Thoughts: ASIFA/Central Spring Meeting

On Saturday, April 14th, the ASIFA/Central Spring Meeting was held at the Grand Rapids Community Media Center.

The day started off much like our other meetings: with a quick demonstration of an animation technique. In this particular case, it was 3d zoetropes--the examples being the two made by Studio Ghibli and Pixar, which can be viewed in the following video:

Animation workstation
After some discussion on how these zoetropes were created, we went into the workshop and started animating. Some of us created traditional two-dimensional zoetropes--drawing on paper strips--and others used turntables to create three-dimensional zoetropes using clay, little figures, and found objects. Each one of us walked the same path but came up with a wide variety of artistic results.

Here's a video of the zoetrope I created:

The rest of the zoetropes can be viewed on the Grand Rapids Community Media Center's YouTube Channel or individually at the following links:
With the exception of our President Jim Middleton, who was attending to business elsewhere, all our officers were in attendance and we each took turn reporting our progress to the assembled membership. For my part, the membership renewal drive is proceeding as planned and we've picked up a couple new members during the first quarter. Additionally, our Cafepress website is up, active, and ready to accept orders for ASIFA/Central and ASIFA themed merchandise. After reporting how ASIFA/Central remains in good stead, financially, Deanna then gave us a short report on what the overall ASIFA organization is working on (it's all stuff with the website). Once we were finished reporting on our respective departments, the entire membership was invited to show animations that we are all currently working on or have recently completed. While David VanTuyle and Gary Schwartz showed some very impressive work, my favorite remains the pre-production work that Stephan Leeper is creating for his upcoming film: The Temptation of Brother Thomas. On his website, you can see photos of the one foot-tall Brother Thomas maquette he displayed at the workshop while showing us the storyboards for his film.

The workshop ended with all of us finishing our zoetrope animations and then moving from station to station, viewing the day's films while Lynn McKeon posted them online.

After the workshop wrapped up, Gary, Deanna, Stephan and I retired to one of the many microbreweries in Grand Rapids, Brewery Vivant, for a craft beer sampling (not being much of a drinker, I sampled their Root Beer and Raspberry-Apple hard cider). While the food and drinks were excellent, the place was a little too loud for my tastes. So after light conversation over appetizers, we walked up the road to the Pickwick Tavern where the shop talk continued for another hour or two.

As the Membership Coordinator for ASIFA/Central (and someone who constantly harps about how animators in the Great Lakes region need a sense of community much like like they have at TAIS), this was one event I felt obligated to attend--but in a good way. It was a real treat that I had been looking forward to during the weeks since the announcement was posted on our Facebook group. Saturday's meeting was an abbreviated version of the events I so appreciate at the TAIS workshops or the Ottawa International Animation Festival. It all boils down to community. The films shown at festivals and screenings will always be hit-or-miss for me since everyone has different tastes in film techniques as well as subject matter. However, the opportunity to spend time with fellow animators is one that every professional should look for (and forward to). Given the solitary nature of our endeavors, independent animators like myself run the risk of becoming isolated from the rest of the filmmaking community unless we take concrete steps to foster and maintain ties to other professionals. And it doesn't always have to be networking for business. Sometimes it's just nice to have a conversation with like-minded individuals.

I look forward to our next meeting in a couple of months when we all will gather together at the Spring Lake Library for an impromptu celebration of Windsor McCay, pioneer of animation.