Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Animated Thoughts: ASIFA Central 2019 Retreat

Meet me in St. Louis...

This year, the ASIFA Central retreat was held in St. Louis and graciously hosted by Webster University, home of our Social Media Coordinator: Chris Sagovac. After a joyful seven-and-a-half hour drive filled with discussions about animation and gaming with fellow ASIFA Central members Brad Yarhouse and Robert Sweringa, we arrived in St. Louis for a fun-filled weekend of animation -- starting with a meet-and-greet over dinner at Blueberry Hill between our members and Chris's colleagues and students from Webster.

Keynote address delivered by ASIFA Central President Brad Yarhouse

A lot of the animation workshops we played with during the retreat followed the theme of non-traditional animation techniques: direct-on-film, digital direct-on-film, and pixilation.

At one station, Chris had set up markers and ink with strips of clear 16-mm film where we could experiment with direct-on-film techniques.

Additionally, in one of the computer labs, Steve Leeper demonstrated his Photoshop scripts designed to produce digital direct-on-film animation. Fortunately for me, I remembered my Adobe Creative Cloud username and password so Deanna and I were able to share a workstation and produce some short films using Steve's technique. I begrudgingly pay my monthly "rent" to Adobe for the Creative Cloud but I have to admit that it did pay off this time.

When finished, Steve compiled all of our films together for viewing later that afternoon. My section of the digital direct-on-film animation is below:

In the other room, a group of members and students were producing an animated film using the pixilation technique. Former honorary ASIFA President Norman McLaren would be proud to know that there are kids still using the animation technique that he used to create his award winning film Neighbors.

After a delightful lunch generously provided by Webster University, we devoured the yearly ASIFA Central cake, which miraculously survived the trip, and settled in for an afternoon of screening our films, Brad's update on International Animation Day, Deanna's update on ASIFA International, and a series of microtalks which included my in-memorium presentation of experimental animator Suzan Pitt and a very informative student presentation on Astro Boy.

The next day, we packed up our cars to go home, but beforehand, we all met up for breakfast at the Highway 61 Roadhouse, another St. Louis landmark, for brunch and a little more community before making the hours long trek home.

(Image courtesy of ASIFA Central)
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