Monday, October 16, 2017

Animated Events: DIA 'Monet: Framing Life'

Gladioli, c.1876, Detroit Institute of Arts
For those of you that are of a mind, the Detroit Institute of Arts will be hosting an exhibit on Impressionist artist Claude Monet (with works supplemented by Pierre Auguste Renoir).

This exhibit will be hosted from October 22, 2017 until March 4, 2018.

More information can be found on the DIA's website including tickets and exhibition events at the following link.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Animated Events: Henry Ford Museum 'The Science Behind Pixar'

Hi Folks,

Just in case you needed something animation-related to do this October, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is there for you!

From October 14, 2017 until March 18, 2018, the Museum will be hosting "The Science Behind Pixar"!

From the Henry Ford Museum website:

"Enjoy a unique look into the Pixar process, and explore the science and technology behind some of the most beloved animated films and their characters with The Science Behind Pixar. This interactive exhibition showcases the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen. With more than 40 interactive elements, the exhibition’s eight sections each focus on a step in the filmmaking process to give you an unparalleled view of the production pipeline and concepts used at Pixar every day."

More information is available on the following page on the Henry Ford Museum website along with resources and ticket prices. Additionally, you can visit the Science Behind Pixar website for more information about this travelling exhibit.

Friendly reminder folks: if we don't support all these cool animation related events in Michigan, we won't see many coming to our lovely Great Lakes state. :)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club: 'Loving Vincent'


This Fall, Loving Vincent comes to the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit and the Urban Institute of Arts in Grand Rapids.



From the film's website:

"On 27th July 1890 a gaunt figure stumbled down a drowsy high street at twilight in the small French country town of Auvers.

The man was carrying nothing; his hands clasped to a fresh bullet wound leaking blood from his belly.

This was Vincent van Gogh, then a little known artist; now the most famous artist in the world.

His tragic death has long been known, what has remained a mystery is how and why he came to be shot.

Loving Vincent tells that story."

You can read more about Loving Vincent at the official website: http://us.lovingvincent.com/.

The film will be shown on Saturday, October 14th at the Detroit Institute of Arts' Detroit Film Theater. Additionally, it will be shown at the Urban Institute of Art in Grand Rapids on the weekend of November 17th.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Animated Events: Napping Princess

Just F.Y.I.: Napping Princess is this Friday in Grand Rapids!

Remember: the more we support our theaters showing anime, the more they'll bring to Michigan! :)

The screening will be at Celebration Cinemas Woodland (3195 28th St SE) on Friday, September 15, 2017.



From the GKIDS website:

Napping Princess
A film by Kenji Kamiyama
Japan, 110 min

The year is 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. While she should be studying for her exams, Kokone Morikawa is often dozing off, stuck between reality and a dream-world full of fantastic motorized contraptions. But after her father, a talented but mysterious mechanic, is arrested for stealing technology from a powerful corporation, it’s up to Kokone and her childhood friend Morio to save him. Together they realize that Kokone’s dream-world holds the answers to the mystery behind the stolen tech, and they embark on a journey that traverses dreams and reality, city and country, and past and present. Their mission uncovers a trail of clues to her father’s disappearance and ultimately a surprising revelation about Kokone’s family.

From visionary director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East) comes a sci-fi fantasy that effortlessly weaves together the rapidly evolving technology of today’s world with the fantastic imagination of the next generation. With an ambitious mix of multilayered action, whimsical characters and inventive machines, Napping Princess is a genre- and universe-blending film that shows that following your dreams is sometimes the best way to discover your past.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Animated People: Erik Timmerman, pt 3 - "Brick City"

As mentioned in my previous post, last October, I attended R.I.T.'s Brick City Homecoming.


It's a seven hour drive from Lansing to Rochester, so I tend to leave town early. Nexus pass notwithstanding, you never know what kind of traffic you're going to encounter on the bridges to and from Canada. After a last minute emergency at work, I left Michigan almost on time. Was pulling onto the highway when I realized I had no quarters for the tolls when driving through New York. A quick detour to a bank in Flint and I was on my way to Rochester. Got waved though the border and drove straight through Canada. There was a minor wait at the Ontario/New York border crossing, but the Nexus pass did its thing and they waved me through with no difficulty. All-in-all, the weather was beautiful and I made excellent time to R.I.T.

Arriving at my former home, the first step was to check in at the R.I.T. Inn & Conference Center, then head straight to campus. It was Thursday and other than Becky Simmons and my former classmate Leah, I hadn't told anyone that I'd be in town. So while it promised to be a quiet evening, I still wanted to check in at the Student Union.

I parked the car and started drifting through memories while walking through the Gannett Building. As is my custom, I stopped over at Erik's old office in quiet remembrance of my friend and then over to Marla Schweppe's old office. Stephanie Maxwell's office had been moved over near where Erik used to be. And Skip Battaglia has retired, so I have to content myself to catching up with him at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and her via e-mail whenever we have a spare moment or two.


One of the best activities at the OIAF:
the impromptu R.I.T. reunions!

As much as I wanted to linger, I had to pick up my welcome packet before the Union closed. So I ran over, picked up my tickets, swag bag, and shirt. Then bought an extra shirt, just because.

I then reacquainted myself with the Archives office at the Wallace Library. Didn't expect to be there for very long tomorrow, but this was a long time in coming. Was happy to finally move this project forward. Walking around at night, I was struck by how R.I.T. is so different. It has expanded so much in the past nineteen years, added so many amenities and buildings. It was going to look so different tomorrow in the light of day.

With the pressing things out of the way, I stopped by the R.I.T. store to pick up some memorabilia, then off to some old-ish haunts before they closed: Hammergirl Anime and Millennium Games to be specific. Wish they'd been around back in my day. Course, back then we had to get our anime and gaming fixes through Media Play and Crazy Egors. Both are now long gone, but back then they had their charm even though they were very different scenes. Crazy Egors used to be packed tightly with pile upon pile of vintage gaming boxes and books. Before an injury forced him into retirement, I used to see the owner and his son at Gen Con during the early-2000's. Was always nice to chat with them and catch up on the gaming scene in Rochester. While Media Play had a larger selection of animated films and anime (though admittedly on VHS), Hammergirl is still the best place to stock up on Pocky and HiChew for the weekend while browsing their DVD selection.

Then it was back to the hotel for some rest. Gonna be a good weekend.


Friday was an incredible day, from start to finish I almost always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Went straight to campus and started off at Mary Bernard's office. Dropped off a copy of the Detroit Institute of Arts' animation book 'Watch Me Move' for Stephanie Maxwell. Stephanie was out for the day, unfortunately, but Mary said she'd put it in her mailbox. Before leaving, I chatted her up on what animation work we're doing in Michigan and she gave me the latest SOFA student film DVDs.

Then it was off to see Bill Landers.

For my two years as the Graduate Lab manager, I had the opportunity to work with Bill from time-to-time and each time it was a real education. I attribute the longevity of our equipment at my office to those out-of-the-classroom lessons I received from watching Bill working tirelessly on old video cameras, 3/4-inch analog tape editing stations, and finicky Bernoulli drives as well as routing yards and yards of cables and patch cords.

As many of the thesis films from my day have been lost, before driving to Rochester, I digitized every film from back then that I had on tape and loaded them onto a flash drive so he could add them to the SOFATube server at his leisure. Also snuck in a better copy of my thesis film on the flash drive--the VHS transfer they have of my film is terrible because the tape I gave the library wasn't good enough to stand up to the ravages of time. Still kicking myself over that one. Remember kids: never skimp on your archival media; quality costs money but it pays off in the long run.

Well Bill explained about how SOFATube came about and their plans for filling in the films from the '90's. Then I got the full tour of the new facilities. He walked me through the labs: 2d, 3d, Graduate, stop-motion, audio, and live action. In addition to the SOFA archives, set and model fabrication shop, and the theaters/screening rooms. The department is night and day from what we had back in the late-nineties. Was incredible to see what the program has become--and it's reflected in the films that the students are making today.


Bill said the program is based on the premise: "it all starts with the story." Erik would be pleased. I told Bill how after I graduated, Erik said I should teach the scriptwriting courses in his place. When I said that I told Erik that I didn't think I was good enough at the time, Bill said that if Erik recommended me for the job, then I was good enough. Bar none, one of the best compliments I've ever received.

After saying my goodbyes to Bill, I walked by Marla's office and there she was, sitting in her chair, reading before a class. We spent a few moments talking and catching up then it was off on a tour of her 3D Digital Design program. When we returned to her office, she asked for my CV and said there were possibilities of me teaching forensic animation long distance at R.I.T. Then she gave me a very touching gift: a pair of Erik's reading glasses she'd been holding onto. Said that of all the students that have passed through program, he'd be happy to know that I had them. I'm thankful for those six years that I knew Erik, but it wasn't nearly enough time.


I'm still not sure if I should replace the lenses with my prescription so I can use them when I teach, but for now, they occupy a prominent place on my bookshelf right next to my two photos of Erik and the group photo of me, Marla, Stephanie, and Skip from back in 2010 when we all went out to dinner together.

At this point, I had said all my 'hellos' and Marla needed to go teach her class, so I walked across the quad to the Wallace Library. Becky was out running her campus tour on R.I.T.'s campus landmarks but, as always, she was as good as her word and had left Erik's tape on her desk along with instructions to her assistants that I'd be arriving to digitize his film.


It's a kludge, but it works. :)
My recording process is a kludge. 4-head Stereo VCR patched into an old Sony DCR-TRV 120 via two sets of patch cords. The CCDs in the old DCR-TRV are burned out but the A/V inputs and the recording/playback mechanisms work just fine. Though I've tested many over the years, I've never found a really reliable and affordable way to digitize analog video and feed it directly into my computer. That's why I stick with the above setup I put together over a decade ago. The DCR-TRV camera records to 8mm tapes of various quality and can output to computer via a FireWire cable. Fortunately, my old XP laptop still has a FireWire interface port in the side. So, once the analog video has been digitized onto the Digital 8mm tape, it's a simple matter to feed it into Adobe Premiere as an uncompressed AVI. From there, you can clean it up, if necessary, and export it to any format needed.


As evidenced by the images, the recording went far, far better than expected. The tape held up exceedingly well over the past thirty-three years.


There are still some artifacts on the audio, a minute hiss and crackle that's only really noticeable when the dynamics of the music shifts downward.


I'm honestly not sure if I want to clean it up, so the audio is fresh and crisp, or leave it "as is". I'm wondering if it's an artifact of the film itself from when Erik originally recorded it instead of being a consequence of going from film to video to digital video--kind of like how you hear scratches and pops on vinyl records but the music sounds much richer as opposed to the same song when played from a CD or an mp4.

The film is only about four minutes long and I've been tinkering with the audio off and on for about a year now. Time I think to show it to Skip and Stephanie at this year's Brick City Homecoming and ask them for their advice. Skip remembered seeing Erik's film on a movie screen so I'm sure he's going to have some good advice on how I should proceed.

The rest of the evening was a whirlwind as I met up with Leah and we walked all around campus, reminiscing and marveling about how the campus has changed. Since it was after hours, everything was locked up. However, Michelle, a lovely young lady from the animation program, showed us around the labs and chatted us us up about what the program was like back in the nineties and we reassured her that, 'yes', there was job after college!

Earlier, as I sat on a park bench outside the Gannett Building waiting for Leah to arrive, a thought struck me about the current facilities and the quality of work that the SOFA students are producing. If I had to apply to the program now as opposed to nineteen years ago, it makes me wonder if I would've even been able to make it into R.I.T. Leaves me even more thankful to God for the time I got to spend there.

On Saturday, when walking back from the game design workshop I had signed up for, I waltzed right into another session of Becky Simmons' tour. Really appreciated the chance to give her a progress report in person and thank her for all her help on the Roadworks project.

At that point, I think that I did all that I could while I was in town. At the very least, I hit the most important events: digitizing Erik's tape, visiting Marla, spending time with Leah, dropping off some tokens of appreciation to my former professors.

When leaving for Michigan on Sunday, I had much to think about on my way back home: how much I missed Erik, how I wished that I'd done a better job keeping in touch with my friends Leah and Steve after graduation. How I'd like to go back in time and warn the me that I was not to take those days for granted and savor every moment. On the bright side, when I got back into town, I reached out to Norway where Steve was teaching and rekindled that friendship. And on Facebook, I continued the conversation with Leah that we started over homecoming weekend. Am determined not to have any regrets with those two friendships.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club - Tyrus

This September, the Detroit Institute of Arts "DFT Animation Club" will be hosting a special screening: Tyrus -- the story of Disney artist Tyrus Wong.



This film will be screened twice over the weekend of September 9th and 10th. Details below are from the DIA's website:

Tyrus.
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 2:00 PM
Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 2:00 PM
(USA. 2015, Directed by Pamela Tom.)

"The DFT Animation Club takes a rare trip behind the scenes for this portrait of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese immigrant to the United States who fought prejudice and persevered to become one of the most culturally relevant artists in film history. In Hollywood, Wong inspired Walt Disney and brought the delicate, majestic beauty of Bambi to life on the screen. Interviews with film historians, art curators, studio animation experts and the Wong family give a candid look at this unique man for our time, who passed away last year at age 106."
(73 min.)

Tickets for this event can be found at the following link: https://www.dia.org/dia.org/tyrus.

And more details on this documentary film can be seen on the filmmaker's website: http://tyrusthemovie.com/.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club - My Life as a Zucchini

The third and final summer animation screening at the Detroit Institute of Arts' "DFT Animation Club" will be the Oscar Nominated film My Life as a Zucchini.


From the DIA's website:

"Saturday, August 12, 2017: 2:00 PM
Sunday, August 13, 2017: 2:00 PM
(Switzerland/France/2016—directed by Claude Barras)

After his mother’s sudden death, Zucchini is befriended by police officer Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home, where he meets other orphans his age. At first he struggles to find his place in this strange new environment, but with Raymond’s help and his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and to love as he searches for a new family of his own. Showcased at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for Best Animated Feature at both the Academy Awards® and the Golden Globe Awards®, Zucchini is brought to vivid life through its memorable characters and expressive stop-motion animation – a story that soars with laughter, sorrow, and joy, an enchanting testament to the resilience of the human heart.

This English-language version stars Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Ellen Page and Amy Sedaris. Recommended for ages 12 to adult. (66 min.)"

Tickets for this event can be purchased at the following link: http://www.dia.org/auxiliaries/event.aspx?id=6441&iid=7765&aux_id=14&cid=100.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Animated People: Erik Timmerman, pt. 2 - "Roadworks"

R.I.T.'s Frank E. Gannett Hall,
home of the School for Film and Animation

In October 2016, I made the last-minute decision to attend "Brick City", R.I.T.'s annual homecoming. I had been back to R.I.T. several times in the past -- passing through on the way to the Ottawa International Animation Festival, speaking there as a guest lecturer, even doing research at the Wallace Library. But this was the first time I had attended homecoming as an alumni and I used the opportunity to get a side-project back on track.

Some background is necessary.

During one of my classes in Grad School, Erik mentioned Roadworks, the only experimental film he made during his tenure at R.I.T. Don't know if it registered with my fellow students, but I thought the premise was interesting and decided to check it out at the Wallace Library. Roadworks was this short film with an experimental/jazz soundtrack where the viewer was presented with a top-down view of a road and the soundtrack was timed such that nuances of the 'music' were matched with changes in the road markings -- dashed lines, parallel solid lines, etc.

So, I watched it. It was amusing enough, even moreso because of Erik's animated tale of how he had students cranking this roll of transparent plastic (with the road marks painted on it) in step with the music while the camera recorded the production on film. Afterwards, I returned the tape to the archives and filed that memory under another interesting experience during graduate school, among so many others.

As part of my greater collection, I actually maintain a library of films produced by my professors or films that they worked on: single DVDs like Skip Battaglia's Car Crash Opera or Stephanie Maxwell's tzzzz! as well as DVD collections that they've produced professionally--like Stephanie's compilation: Animated Works 1984-2007, which she released through IotaCenter. Eh, I may not be in school anymore, but that doesn't mean that my profs don't still have lots to teach me.

About a decade after Erik's untimely passing, it dawned on me that as time marched on, nobody would remember his film because fewer of us were around to tell people about it. Professors would retire and new ones would be hired. Students would come through the program, graduate, and move on to their careers. And unless the students were told about Erik and his contributions to R.I.T.1, both he and his film would be forgotten. So, I set about making Roadworks a part of my collection.


Well, fortunately some of us are bound and determined not to let Erik be forgotten. Case in point: Bill Landers. Bill is the Chief Engineer who keeps all the equipment running at R.I.T.'s School of Film and Animation. Though their relationship was sometimes contentious, Erik and Bill had a respect for each other--so much so that after Erik died, Bill had a plaque to commemorate Erik installed in one of the halls where the SoFA's animation labs are located.


Another example is my friend Leah. Both she and I donated commemorative bricks in Erik's name which were installed on R.I.T.'s Philanthropy Way (the Legacy Walk) -- a sidewalk between the dorms and the campus proper.

Back to Erik's film.


My 'little sisters' got a special screening
at the High Falls Film Festival that year.

In April 2013, I was visiting R.I.T. for the High Falls Film Festival in addition to doing research for my history of Women Animators project. Since I was in the library anyways, I took the opportunity to track down Roadworks and watch it again. Unfortunately, as everything was moving to digital, many of the VHS tapes were being archived and thrown away. The School of Film and Animation's copy had been rescued from a bin by Stephanie Maxwell and mailed to Erik's daughter, Erica, ensuring that at least one of Erik's children had a copy of his film.

The other copy was in the Wallace Library archives. I had done my homework ahead of time and walked into the archives with a printout of the Library's database index entry for Erik's film.

I spoke to the lead Archivist, Ms. Becky Simmons, and told her who Erik was and why I was trying to locate a copy of his film. As it turns out, Becky had never seen the numbering system for Erik's film entry in the database as it hadn’t been used for years. And, even after several phone calls to colleagues, she was unable to locate his film--if a copy even still existed at the Wallace Library. So, she apologized, we exchanged business cards, and she said she’d see what she could do. This was Friday at around 3:00 p.m. I thanked her for her time, and then walked across the library to do my research.

Around 4 p.m., I was elbow deep in the animation section when I received a call from Becky stating that she had found the library’s copy. His film had been located--sitting on a lonely shelf in a box with a couple other VHS tapes. Fifteen minutes later, I was watching Erik’s film downstairs on one of the few remaining VCRs that the library still had hooked up.

As there were only three VHS viewing stations left in the library and they were going to be retired in the not too distant future, I hurriedly ran downstairs, popped in the tape, plugged in my headphones, and watched Erik's film--hoping against hope that the almost fifteen years of sitting in a box hadn't caused the tape to deteriorate too much. Thankfully, it was in excellent condition and I watched Roadworks several times, each time bringing back a new memory of Erik and our time together at R.I.T. I was able to verify that it could be digitized with only minor clean-up needed for the soundtrack.

Afterwards, I returned the tape to Becky and asked about the procedures for preserving Roadworks. We agreed that before any digital copies were made, I first needed to contact one of Erik's children and obtain permission. It took me a couple years to track one of them down, but when I finally did, Erica quickly responded to my e-mail and gave me her permission to move this project forward.

Which brings us to R.I.T.'s 2016 Brick City Homecoming.

I invite you back in August to read part three: "Brick City".


* Erik was the man who started the Graduate Computer Animation program at R.I.T.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club - Sita Sings the Blues

It's July, and the animated film for this month's' "DFT Animation Club" screening at the Detroit Institute of Arts will be Nina Paley's masterpiece: Sita Sings the Blues.

This film will be screened twice over the weekend of July 15th and 16th. Details below are from the DIA's website:

"Sita Sings the Blues

Saturday, July 15, 2017 - 2:00 PM
Sunday, July 16, 2017 - 2:00 PM
(USA/2008—directed by Nina Paley)

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved husband; Nina is a modern-day animator separated from her husband when he moves to India. Bickering shadow puppets act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation style, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920's jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. The result is a wryly comic, highly sophisticated work of animation that is as enjoyable for young audiences as it is for adults. To experience Sita’s visual charms on anything less than the big screen would be to miss something truly special!

Recommended for ages 9 to adult. (82 min.)"


Tickets for this event can be found at the following link: http://www.dia.org/auxiliaries/event.aspx?id=6440&iid=7763&aux_id=14&cid=100.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Animated People: Erik Timmerman, pt. 1


As longtime readers know, on June 30th I like to write about my friend and mentor Erik Timmerman who passed away on this date back in 2000. Well this year, I'm going to do something different. Instead of sharing a fond memory of Erik or a life lesson he taught me, over the next two months I'm going to write about a personal project involving Erik's filmmaking.

The Roadworks project that I'll be discussing was borne out of a two-fold desire to continue reinforcing many of my memories of Erik in my own mind as well as creating a greater remembrance of my friend such that his contribution to his students' lives, in addition to the animation program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will be known by the students who come afterwards and never forgotten by those of us who knew him personally.

In order to do this, I'm going to ramble a bit about the steps that brought me and this multi-year project to it's current phase of development--and hopefully, it'll be completed sooner rather than later so I can share it in greater detail.

So tune in next month for part two of this blog post, titled "Roadworks", as I talk about the only experimental film Erik produced during his time at R.I.T. and my attempts to rescue it from obscurity.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club - My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea

It's Summer and the Detroit Institute's "DFT Animation Club" will be showing three animated films over the next three months. The first is My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, scheduled for June 18th.

From the DIA Website:

"Sunday, June 18, 2017: 2:00 PM
Sunday, June 18, 2017: 4:00 PM
(USA/2016—directed by Dash Shaw)

From acclaimed graphic novelist Dash Shaw (New School) comes an audacious debut that is equal parts disaster cinema, high school comedy and blockbuster satire, told through a dream-like mixed media animation style. Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) are preparing for another year of working on their widely-distributed but little-read school newspaper, when Dash learns of a cover-up by the school administration’s that puts all the students in danger. Hailed as “the most original animated film of the year” (IndieWire), it reminds us how the high school experience continues to shape who we become, even in the most unusual of circumstances."

Recommended for ages 13 to adult. (77 minutes)"

Tickets for this event can be found at the following link: http://www.dia.org/auxiliaries/event.aspx?id=6439&iid=7762&aux_id=14&cid=100.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Animated Thoughts: Burnout... and remedies thereof

I have to admit that I've been struggling with burnout lately.

Longtime readers may have noticed that I skipped my yearly International Women's Day animator interviews this year. That was no accident. Part of it was me being tired after all the effort that it took to prepare and teach my History of Women Animators class. And part of it was me being disgusted with the current state of affairs in our American political scene. Last year, I let my membership lapse in an animation group that I had been a member of for years; reason being: they used to be an organization that was focused on promoting the art of animation. However, over the past few years, they've become a vehicle for partisan politics that has given many within their membership a license to be abusive and intolerant.

Personally, I have little interest in politics and don't want politics to seep in and dilute or overshadow the reason why I started doing the interviews in the first place: namely that I want to see women animators learn their history, find their voice, and tell their story. And while I'm currently working on transcribing an interview with a pair of woman animators that I recorded last month, sometimes you just have to step back and let the world rush right on by you towards the edge of that cliff while you keep working towards your goals.

Even my usual outlet: animation festivals have left me with overwhelming feelings of dread. This month, I skipped the second annual Detroit Animation Festival and the single animation screening at the Capital City Film Festival simply because I didn't want to risk spending two hours sitting through political rants played out on the screen. I've been trying to play it safe this year.

Although, in order to recharge my batteries, I have been doing a couple things:

Frame-by-Frame Stop Motion by Tom Gasek
Fluid Frames by Corrie Francis Parks
1. With the new version of DragonFrame being released, I'm dusting off my DSLR camera stand and dedicating time to solve that annoying image flicker problem so I can do some more under-the-camera work before I upgrade to version 4. Tom Gasek and Corrie Francis Parks have written excellent books on under-the-camera animation techniques, so I'm looking forward to finish reading those two books and doing a little experimenting. After all, I still owe my Auntie Martine a paint-on-glass film.

2. I am still working on the Women Animator interviews, albeit at a much slower pace which incorporates much of my prior research into asking the ladies much better questions. This refocusing, I think is going to show in my upcoming interview with Chicago-based animators Catherine and Sarah Satrun. Look for it and others on my Women of Animated Film website next month. I also had the opportunity to promote two Kickstarter campaigns for prior interviewees, so when the time comes, I'm hoping to re-interview Signe Baumane and Monica Brujenes about their experiences with crowdfunding their latest projects.

3. I've been taking time out to watch a fair number of animated features lately.

Back around February/March, I tried to see all the Academy Award nominated animated feature films around the time of the awards ceremony. Having already watched Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings, it was time to track down some of the lesser known features that were nominated this year. I started with the Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini, two amazing foreign-made animated films.

The Red Turtle was a co-production between Michaël Dudok du Wit and Japan's Studio Ghibli--home studio for Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.

It's not often you see a film where there's no dialogue. And more to the point, a film where there's no need for dialogue. The Red Turtle is the story of a man who has been shipwrecked on an island and his attempts to escape his prison keep being stymied by forces beyond his control.

As a long-time fan of Dudok du Wit (the Monk and the Fish is one of my all time favorite short animations) and the works of Studio Ghibli, I went into his film with high expectations and they were met on every front. Definitely worth watching. I won't spoil the ending, but this film seamlessly blends real life with the surreal in a way that only a master like Dudok du Wit can.

My Life as a Zucchini was a very touching French/Swiss co-production animated using traditional stop-motion animation techniques.The story is about a little boy, nicknamed Zucchini by his mother, who ends up in an orphanage with other children around his age. After his introduction to the other children, the film then centers around Zucchini, the budding friendship with a new girl at the orphanage, and a police officer who befriends them both.

It's a great movie to see with kids (I'd say around 8 years and above, though you might have to explain some concepts to kids), but definitely have a box of tissues with you when you watch this film. It's a very emotional film that keeps you guessing how it's going to end. My Life as a Zucchini is being released on DVD on May 23rd. Don't know if it'll get an English dub, but it's worth a watch even if you're not into subtitled films.

I ended up skipping Moana. My heart just wasn't in it. It's a $5 rental on iTunes so I may still watch it sometime in the future, but after Zootopia beat out three vastly superior films: Kubo, Turtle, and Zuchinni, I just don't feel up to sitting through another formulaic Disney princess musical. Moana may be spectacular. It may not. I don't know. I just know that I'm tired of watching the Disney/Pixar behemoth win time and again over films that are far superior in story and structure and that dare to take risks with their storytelling and visual style. Over the past seventeen years, eleven of the films that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature were produced by either Disney or Pixar. And some deservedly so, like Big Hero Six, Wall-E, and the Incredibles, credit where credit is due. But you'll never convince me that there weren't any better films released during the years when Frozen or Inside/Out won. Anyways, I'm starting to rant and on principle, I don't like dogging other animators because I know how hard it is to produce an animated film, much less a good one. So I'll stop now and pin a five-dollar bill to my corkboard for when I get around to renting Moana.

Well, after binge-watching the last eight episodes of Sword Art Online season 2, I drove to Flint in order to watch SAO the Movie: Ordinal Scale. Amazing film. So good in fact that I drove to Bloomfield Hills a month later just to see the English dub version. I can deal with subtitles, but sometimes you just want to take in the lush visuals and subtle character animation without having to split your visual attention between reading dialog and watching the movie.

SAO: Ordinal Scale takes the characters we know and love from two seasons of the SAO anime series and thrusts them into a new conflict around augmented reality gaming in the real world instead of the full-dive virtual reality gaming that they are used to. It sounds simple, but the conflict between Kirito, Asuna and the villains builds in complexity until the final resolution in the last fifteen minutes of the film. The final battle was worth the price of admission and the $30 in gasoline alone! But if you haven't watched both seasons of Sword Art Online, definitely watch them before you watch the movie. Technically, it's not required, but the story will make a lot more sense if you do and you'll catch a lot of the subtleties to the characters' actions as well as a lot of Easter Eggs that the animators threw in from the first two seasons of the anime.

There's supposed to be a third season of Sword Art Online, but if they ended the series here, I'd be happy. It's a nice wrap-up to the SAO franchise.

The last feature I watched was Makoto Shinkai's masterwork 'Your Name.' Breathtaking. Simply breathtaking. Now one could argue that you could have made the entire film live action, but animation has such a unique charm to it that live-action simply can't match. On the surface, this film starts out as one of those 'body switching' stories that we've seen Disney produce here in the States ad nauseum using a flavor-of-the-month teenage actor or actress. But before the fish-out-of-water charm wears off, the story takes a much more serious turn. I won't spoil it other than to say that the film is well worth 90 minutes of your time when it comes out on DVD. I haven't seen any announcements yet, but Funimation did the English Dub, so I expect that it'll be released through them later this year.

Shinkai's earlier film 5 Centimeters Per Second has been sitting on my shelf for the better part of a couple years, patiently waiting until I worked my way through the stack of giant robot anime DVDs ahead of it. And I'm honestly not sure if I was better off going in to Your Name. cold or not. I had no expectations other than the fact that it was the highest grossing animated film in Japan last year and the film blew me away. So much so that 5 Centimeters Per Second is now at the top of the queue. Back when I watched some of the works of the late great Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers) there were many recurring visual themes--including one that played out in both climaxes of Paranoia Agent and Paprika which kind of detracted from them both. So, I'm hoping that 5 Centimeters Per Second doesn't share any thematic elements with Your Name. But even if they do, I'm happy to have been able to appreciate Your Name. completely on it's own merits.

Regardless, I can see why people are saying that Shinkai is the next Hayao Miyazaki.

4. Lastly, I've been looking for other venues where I can learn and sharpen my craft--funny how many of these include a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Now most times, my trips to the DIA are to see animated films at the Detroit Film Theater or rare exhibits, like the time they brought in a Monet painting from the Musee d'Orsay. This time was a little different. This time, they had a lecture on how multispectral imaging and x-rays are used to expand their research on works of art. And since Tricia over at Thistle Threads uses x-rays to help deconstruct 17th Century English goldwork embroidery, it seemed like attending this lecture was a good idea to gain a better understanding on what and how she does what she does. DIA Photographer and Imaging Specialist Aaron Steele gave a very informative and visually exciting presentation that ran from the basics of multispectral imaging applied to paintings all the way to recent discoveries made when taking x-rays of African religious statues. He even spent time talking about the process of taking high-resolution images of the DIA's art collection for researchers and novices alike. After packing in a ton of information in two twenty minute lectures, Aaron stuck around and answered questions (and got in a little shop talk) from the crowd. Needless to say, I picked up some tips and tricks of the trade that will be applicable to both my forensic animation work as well as my work on Tricia's English embroidery projects.

The moral is: creative burnout can be managed, if you're willing to stay active and search for those opportunities to recharge. :)


Friday, March 24, 2017

Animated Events: Your Name.



Coming up in two weeks is the perfect opportunity to show theaters in the Lansing area (and Michigan) that there is a demand for Japanese animation!

The Celebration Cinema theater here in Lansing will be showing "Your Name.", Makoto Shinkai's sleeper hit from Japan. And additionally, it'll be showing at the Celebration Cinema Grand Rapids North, and the Celebration! Cinema Crossroads in Portage, and the Rave Ann Arbor 20.

Here in Lansing, it'll be opening on Friday April 7th through Sunday April 9th and the website denotes that they're showing both the English dub and the Engish subtitled version.

Regarding the film, from the website listing: "From director Makoto Shinkai comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls. The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more—a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?"

Distributed by Funimation, the English dub trailer for "Your Name." is in the video above and you can check times and purchase tickets for the Lansing screenings at the following link: https://celebrationcinema.com/location/Lansing/4-7-2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Animated Events: DFT Animation Club: Ocean Waves



From the DIA/DFT Website:

DFT Animation Club: Ocean Waves
Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 12, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
(Japan/1993—directed by Tomomi Mochizuki)

Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a poignant, wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and the onset of adulthood. Taku and his best friend are headed back to school, but find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student. When Taku joins her on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships. The only Studio Ghibli feature not to have received American release until now, Ocean Waves is a touching teenage drama and a true discovery. Suggested for audiences 12 and up. Plus: Ghiblies Episode 2 – a rare Ghibli short never before seen in the US! In Japanese with English subtitles. (96 minutes total)

The Detroit Film Theatre is supported by your millage investment in the DIA.

General admission tickets for films in the DFT Animation Club series are $5. Admission is free to DIA members. Please show your member card at the door, no tickets are needed. General admission online and phone orders incur a $1.50 per ticket convenience fee.

See more and buy tickets online at the DFT website.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Animated Thoughts: Signe Baumane's Love Affair with Marriage

Signe Baumane - TAIS lecture, Toronto, 2012
If you've been following either of my Facebook pages, you know that after a successful theater run and world tour with 2014's Rocks in my Pockets, Signe Baumane is back in Brooklyn, New York and hard at work on another feature-length animated film!

Signe's first animated feature, Rocks in my Pockets, explored the history of depression and suicide in her family's history set against the backdrop of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Latvia. Well this time around, Signe has returned to the goldmine of her personal history and is using it to animate a story about love and marriage. In the appropriately titled My Love Affair With Marriage, Signe delves into her past relationships and asks herself why her two marriages failed.

But rather than explain it myself, here's Signe in her own words:

Exclusive Sample Footage for Kickstarter from Signe Baumane on Vimeo.

Currently halfway through her Kickstarter campaign, Signe has raised roughly one-third of the money needed for the pre-production work on her film. Once the necessary funds have been raised, she'll cast and record 26 voice actors, hire a composer to create twenty-two songs, and hire a musical director to cast the film's 'four singing Mythology Sirens.' If this sounds like a lot of music compared to Rocks in My Pockets, well that's because My Love Affair with Marriage will have several musical numbers.

On Signe's Vimeo page (at the following link: https://vimeo.com/202927349), you can see a some test footage of the bride with the sirens singing a classic tune.

Signe's "bride and the sirens".
Image copyright Signe Baumane
Something worth noting from the clip is how Signe is bringing back the technique of using three-dimensional paper-mâché backgrounds and digitally compositing her 2d animated characters over them like she used in 'Rocks'. For you animation history buffs out there, Signe is using a modern-day "Stereoptical Process" similar to that which was developed by fellow New Yorker Max Fleischer back in the 1930's and seen in Fleischer Studios films like 1936's Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor and the title sequence of 1941's Mr. Bug Goes to Town. As Max was stuck using the analog technology of his time, he used 3d cardboard and paper-mâché sets with the 2d animation cels suspended on a plane between the camera and the sets (see pp. 119-121 of 'The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer' by Ray Pointer for more information). Well fortunately for Signe, we're now living in the digital world of DSLR cameras and computer compositing. But it's really heartwarming to see some of these old techniques revived and updated for modern filmmaking. Whether knowingly or not, Signe has taken a technique from the 1930's and made it her own.

Well, enough geek-speak. In my opinion, here are the top three reasons why you should support Signe's Kickstarter campaign and help bring My Love Affair with Marriage to life:

1. Signe is a known quantity. Having already produced a large body of work, which includes short animated films and a feature-length animated film, you're investing in someone who has a proven track record of delivering on her promises--both in terms of producing her films and her Kickstarter rewards.

The 'Water Spirit' cel from Rocks in my Pockets
2. According to Wikipedia, last year there were twenty-four animated features either produced or co-produced in the United States. Only three had women directors--and they were all co-directors with men at that (Kung Fu Panda 3 - Jennifer Yuh Nelson, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree - Katrina Hadley, and Ratchet & Clank - Jericca Cleland).

Signe is the writer, animator, director, and co-producer of her film. Once completed, 'Marriage' would add to the number of animated features directed by women.

Out of those remaining twenty-one films, all the others were directed by men. Now I don't have a problem with men directing animated films (obviously). But the fact that we don't have more women at the helm of feature length animated films says something about our industry and that is: we're missing out on one-half of the human experience with all it's unique visions, nuances, and experiences. Which brings us to point number three.

3. One of the things I've noticed over the years about the established studio system is that they aren't very willing to tell stories from a woman's perspective. While I understand that when one is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to make an animated film, this would tend to make even the most jaded exec rather skittish. As a result, they want the film to appeal to as broad an audience as possible and this lends itself to repeating certain styles of storytelling over and over. However, the financial success of films like Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and Disney's Frozen have proven that there is a market for films that tell stories that are relevant to women and are told from a woman's perspective. Sadly, all too often, women have to leave the studio system in order to tell these stories--those that are deeply personal to them and that resonate with a female audience (and a portion of the male audience who values good storytelling that exists outside of our own experience). And we, the filmgoing public are the ones who suffer since these films usually don't get as wide a reception in theaters as they would if they had the backing of a major studio.

So if, like me, you're chafing under the restrictions that we see in the selection of animated films out there, now is your chance to help breathe life into a project created and directed by a woman who wants to tell a story from her unique perspective.

You can be a part of the Kickstarter campaign right now. Just click on the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1055277857/my-love-affair-with-marriage/, and make your pledge.

The world of animation will be better because of it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Animated Thoughts: the Annie Awards


Some random thoughts from the 44th Annie Awards:

  • The sloth joke from Zootopia was played out after the first time we saw it in the Zootopia trailer. In the words of another Disney character: Let. It. Go.

  • Really happy to see Kubo and the Two Strings get some recognition. Wish it had been in the box office, but glad to see it happen nonetheless. It's well deserved.

  • The portrait of class: the director of Life Animated called up the subject of his documentary and three of the animators on the stage to share in the award.

  • Good to see Bill and Sue Kroyer get an award for all their hard work and contributions to the field of animation. Technological Threat remains one of my favorite shorts of all time.

  • Made a mental note to track down the Abyss, a student film by China's Liying Huang and Wu Zheng and Deer Flower by Studio ZAZAC.

  • Funniest moment of the evening: the envelope mishap during the presentation of the Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production award.

  • The mirror dimension sequence for Dr. Strange won the award for Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production. Very cool! Course, it reminds me that I'm gonna need to buy a bigger television when that DVD is released...

  • Zootopia is doing well during the awards ceremony. And congrats to them, it's deserved, but I'm still hoping that Kubo and the Two Strings gets some more love before the night is over.

  • I'm not a sports fan, but the Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant bit was pretty amusing.

  • And Laika animator Jan Maas wins the award for Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Feature Production for his work on Kubo and the Two Strings! :)

  • Aaaannd, Kubo snags another award, this time for Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production!

  • Am not getting the 'dog' joke that keeps popping up.

  • Was worth staying up just to see Caroline Leaf and Mamoru Oshii get the Winsor McCay Award for their career contributions to the art of animation. Lovely speech by Ms. Leaf--glad to see the NFB get a shout-out and well deserved praise. What a great surprise to see that Mamoru Oshii made the trip to California to receive his award.

  • James Hong is turning 88 years old this month... wow. He still looks like he's in his fifties! And still has that great sense of humor. :)

  • Hm. Nothing puts a damper on the festivities like partisan politics.

  • The Adventure Time "Bad Jubies" episode wins an Annie for Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Children. Congratulations to Kirsten Lepore! Wish she'd won 'Best Director for an Animated TV/Broadcast Production', but nice to see her get some recognition. :)

  • The Red Turtle wins the Best Animated Feature - Independent. I can't wait to see this film, though will have to wait until the end of the month to see it at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak. Time to schedule in a side-trip to the DIA.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Animated Events: the 44th Annie Awards


This Saturday, February 4th at 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST), ASIFA Hollywood will be streaming the annual Annie Awards, a celebration of the best our industry has to offer.

Both the Production and Individual Achievement categories are listed on the Nominees page, however some highlights are below:

Best Animated Feature
  • Finding Dory - Pixar Animation Studios
  • Kubo and the Two Strings - LAIKA
  • Kung Fu Panda 3 - DreamWorks Animation
  • Moana - Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Zootopia - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Best Animated Feature - Independent
  • Long Way North - Produced by Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, Norlum Studios, France 3 Cinéma and 2 Minutes
  • Miss Hokusai - Production I.G
  • My Life As A Zucchini - Rita Productions, Blue Spirit Productions, Gebeka Films, KNM
  • The Red Turtle - Studio Ghibli – Wild Bunch – Why Not Productions
  • Your Name. - CoMix Wave Films
Best Animated Short Subject
  • Blind Vaysha - National Film Board of Canada
  • Deer Flower - Studio ZAZAC
  • Path Title Sequence - Acme Filmworks
  • Pearl - Google Spotlight Stories/Evil Eye Pictures
  • Piper - Pixar Animation Studios
Best Student Film
  • Citipati - Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • FISHWITCH - Adrienne Dowling
  • The Abyss - Liying Huang
  • The Wrong End of the Stick - Terri Matthews
  • Twiddly Things - Adara Todd
In addition to the Production and Individual Acheivement awards, they'll also be presenting the Juried Awards for the following:
  • the Winsor McCay Award - 'for their career contributions to the art of animation',
  • the Ub Iwerks Award - 'for technical advancement in the art of animation',
  • the Special Achievement Award,
  • the June Foray Award - 'for their significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation', and
  • the Certificate of Merit.
You can watch the 44th Annie Awards ceremony live right 'here' on the Annie Awards website.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Animated Events: 2017 Academy Awards Nominees

oscars.org
Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominations for the 89th Annual Academy Awards.

A lot of feelings regarding this year's nominees. On the one hand, I'm very happy to see that Kubo and the Two Strings was nominated in not one, but two categories. 'Kubo' was a beautiful film that deserved to do far, far better than it did in the box office. Travis Knight and the talented folks at Laika continue to impress with how they push the boundaries of stop-motion animation with every film they release.

And I'm very excited to see that Studio Ghibli was nominated for The Red Turtle. While a joint production between Ghibli and director Michaël Dudok de Wit, having followed the films of both for years, I'm really excited to see this film.

One sad note regarding the selections this year, there was only on female director nominated and it was for a co-directed film: Cara Speller for Pear Cider and Cigarettes. I'm not going to go off on a rant about the number of women creators in animation, however, I find it a little incredulous that there weren't enough women filmmakers making Oscar-worthy films in 2016 to garner more than one nomination, and for a co-directing position at that.

So, if you follow my sister-site 'The Women of Animated Film', this year is a little bittersweet. I was hoping to see more, especially after watching the trailer for the film Once Upon a Line, directed by Alicja Jasnia, which was in the running but didn't make the shortlist.


ONCE UPON A LINE by Alicja Jasina - Trailer from Alicja Jasina on Vimeo.


The following are the films nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short Film.

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings - Laika
Moana - Disney
My Life as a Zucchini - GKids
The Red Turtle - Studio Ghibli
Zootopia - Disney

Best Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha - Theodore Ushev
Borrowed Time - Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Pear Cider and Cigarettes - Robert Valley and Cara Speller
Pearl - Patrick Osborne
Piper -Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Also worthy of note are the additional nominations in separate, non-animated categories:

Best Documentary:
Life Animated - Roger Ross Williams

Best Song:
"Can't Stop the Feeling" - Trolls - Dreamworks
"How Far I'll Go" - Moana - Disney

Best Visual Effects:
Kubo and the Two Strings - Laika

As always, for those who would like to see these short films before the awards ceremony, they will be playing at the Detroit Institute of Arts' Detroit Film Theater in January and February.

The schedule from the DIA's website is as follows:
  • Friday, February 10, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 6:00 PM
  • Friday, February 17, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 6:00 PM
  • Friday, February 24, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 6:00 PM
  • Friday, March 03, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, March 04, 2017 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, March 05, 2017 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, March 05, 2017 - 6:00 PM

The Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Congratulations to all the nominees and to all the filmmakers who submitted their films for consideration.

* The Academy Awards and the Oscar are registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Animated Events: Women of Animated Film - the College Class!

Huntington University... 'Go Foresters!'
Well, after a several month break from blogging, I'm finally back behind the keyboard. In truth, I never left, but my late-Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons were taken up by copious amounts of research into and writing about women working in the field of animation.

Some background is necessary:

Two years ago, a friend and fellow ASIFA/Central member who teaches at Indiana's Huntington University asked me if I'd be interested in teaching a J-Term course about women animators. Well, we didn't get the paperwork submitted on time for me to teach during January 2016, but we were right on track for 2017. And it worked out for the best as that extra year of research and prep-time helped me create a better course than I had originally planned. I wrote the course as a three credit-hour class (though we billed it as a two-credit hour class to make it more affordable for the students) and taught it in three hour blocks for eight days (working out as eight, six hour days).

The class content was a mixture of historical information, films, film analysis, and discussion of current events. Though it's hard to pick a favorite aspect of the class, one near the top of the list was an afternoon workshop where I instructed the students in the basics of sand, paint-on-glass, and silhouette/cut-out animation--techniques used by Lotte Reiniger, Caroline Leaf, Martine Chartrand, and Lynn Smith.

This being the first class I've taught in a collegiate setting, it was mercifully free from problems. Other than a DVD that went bad during a screening and the ever present 'volume control' on the sound system, the class was free from technical glitches or other issues that would detract from the learning environment. And when the class was over after that second week, I found myself wishing for just one more day to share one more animator with the class--as my research would prove: there's no shortage of women out there who are creating wonderful animated films. It was extremely heartwarming to read the students' daily journals and have them come up to me after class and state how much they enjoyed learning about these women animators and how the class inspired them to seek out their films on their own time.

The best surprise was that at the end of the two weeks, several students chose to make films for their final projects. All were very good, but one sand animation was excellent. I've encouraged Jemimah to send it out to the festivals, so hopefully you'll all get to see it soon.

The folks at Huntington University were very friendly and went out of their way to ensure that my class was a success for me and their students. The other professors and staff were a real joy to work with.

All-in-all, while I've already pinpointed things that I'd do differently and modifications I'd like to make to the class, I would definitely run this class again!