AWN Oscar Travelogue
Join The Animated Short Nominees On Their Journey to the OscarsThu, 12 Mar 2009 22:41:22 +0000http://wordpress.org/?v=MUenAnimated Shorts Celebration At DreamWorks
http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/animated-shorts-celebration-at-dreamworks/#commentsWed, 25 Feb 2009 00:07:47 +0000oscartourPersonal MusingsPeopleTour DestinationsDreamWorks AnimationJeffrey KatzenbergLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiThis Way UpOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/animated-shorts-celebration-at-dreamworks/
Me on the left with This Way Up director Alan Smith.
written by Rick Farmiloe
I was lucky enough to be included in part of the Oscar Showcase tour this year. Every year the nominees for animated short films are given a tour and luncheon at some of the animation studios here in the Los Angeles area. The organizer of these celebrations, Ron Diamond, invited me to join them at DreamWorks on the last day of the tour. Ron and I are on the Executive Committee of the Short Films/Animation Branch of the Academy, and see scores of animated shorts every year. There is always a wide range of styles and ideas presented in various mediums. It’s always interesting to see which ones will make the final cut for the Oscar nominations. This year the field was exceptionally strong, with every film being quite unique and different from the rest. Meeting the filmmakers and hearing about their thought process and methods of getting it on the screen was extremely interesting and inspiring.
Everyone gathered outside the Campanile Building where the theater is located. There would be a screening for the DreamWorks staff, then a question and answer period with the filmmakers afterwards. It was fun to meet the filmmakers beforehand and mingle around a bit. The director of PRESTO, Doug Sweetland, could not attend this day, unfortunately. This was the last of the tour stops, so they were very friendly with each other by this point. There seemed to be a common bond, regardless of language or background. They were joined together by a love and passion for filmmaking and animation. There was absolutely no competitive vibe among them. They were just all together as filmmakers, celebrating the animated art form. Jeffrey Katzenberg showed, and greeted everyone very warmly, making everyone associated with this tour feel extremely welcome. Jeffrey is one of animation’s biggest fans and supporters.
Jeffrey Katzenberg gives an introduction to the screening.
He introduced the filmmakers to the audience before the showing. The films were shown to a very appreciative and enthusiastic audience. The theater was absolutely packed, with several people standing. Questions were then asked of the filmmakers as to what their inspiration were in making their particular films. Why the style it was made in? How long did it take, etc? The one common thread that ran through the answers was that the filmmakers wanted to keep things simple and direct. They felt the film could only communicate well if it was kept simple. When you only have a few minutes to tell a story, it’s important to not have too many distractions to confuse the audience, thus keeping them involved.
It was also interesting that there was almost NO dialogue in any of the films. This was also a means to keep things simple and communicate to variety of audiences worldwide. There was no language barrier problem because of this choice.
Kunio Kato explains the making of his Oscar-winning film.
The director of LA MAISON EN PETIS CUBES, Kunio Kato said that his inspiration for his film about a man who relives his past through building layers onto his house, was simply the idea of houses building additions on top of their structure. The plot of the man revisiting points in his life came later. Kunio is a painter, who feels through animation he can express his art more fully and communicate his ideas better.
The directors of OKTAPADI (about two octopi in love) felt it was best to keep the idea very simple and have the two get separated and try to reunite. They wanted no dialogue to keep it visual, and short to keep it to the point. They also felt they wanted to keep one step ahead of the audience to keep it unpredictable.
The two directors of THIS WAY UP, Smith and Foulkes, felt they also needed to keep the plot simple and dialogue free. The simple plot of the mishaps that befall them as they try to deliver a corpse in a coffin worked very well and kept audiences interested in what would happen next.
The director of LAVATORY LOVESTORY, Konstantin Bronzit, took a full year to do the storyboards, and two years to make the film, which was hand drawn and very charming. He also stated his preference for having no dialogue to keep things simple, citing Charlie Chaplin as an inspiration.
The question of 2D or 3D came up as well. The two filmmakers who did their films in 2D, Konstantin Bronzit and Kunio Kato were adamant that hand drawn animation is the ONLY way they would ever work. They felt it expressed best the feeling they were trying to get across to an audience, and it made it more personal for them.
It was interesting to find out that some of the filmmakers were going on to other feature length projects, while others were staying in the shorts field.
A luncheon was served afterwards, with some DreamWorks staff attending, where more stories were shared between filmmakers and other attendees. One common thread that tied everyone together was a real love for animation and an excitement at what lies ahead for them as individuals in their careers, and the art form in general. You really got the feeling that these people where in this for the long haul continuing to explore and create great work.
The This Way Up filmmakers get ready for Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D.
There was then a tour of DreamWorks, where we were treated to a screening of some sequences of the upcoming release, MONSERS VS ALIENS in 3-D. The sequences looked amazing, and the 3-D was some of the best I’ve ever seen. We saw some new technology in a hand held 3D virtual camera that can move around an environment with already created animation, giving the director the chance to change camera angles on the spot. I can’t remember exactly what it’s called, but it was really impressive. We then were shown some test animation by Kristof Serrand for a new feature called HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.
The day was winding down, but everyone still had a lot of enthusiasm for everything they were seeing. The Oscars were only two days away, so you could really feel the excitement among the filmmakers. It’s important to note that they just seemed to really enjoy being part of the whole Oscar celebration and not too concerned about winning awards. They were happy to be a part of something pretty wonderful, and just sharing this special time with one another, being supportive and complimentary of each other’s outstanding work. It was pretty inspiring to realize that this art form of the animated short film is very alive and well. Regardless of the medium that is used to tell the story, or the country it comes from, or budget or time, there are still a lot of great stories to be told. It’s nice to know there are such enthusiastic filmmakers out there who feel the animated short film is a vital tool to inform and entertain. Let’s just hope they all get the support and accolades they deserve. From what I observed, the animated short film has a very bright future!
Animator and Executive Board Member of the Short Films/Animation Branch AMPAS
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http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-09-acmeawn-party-photo-gallery/#commentsWed, 25 Feb 2009 00:04:26 +0000oscartourPhoto GalleriesTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersAcme/AWN PartyLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiThis Way UpOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-09-acmeawn-party-photo-gallery/
Olivier Delabarre (c) enjoys a piece of cake with fellow Oktapodi directors Francois-Xavier Chanioux (r) and Thierry Marchand.
Each year Acme Filmworks and AWN host a party, bringing the animation community together to meet the nominees. This year it was an intimate affair at tour host Ron Diamond’s home. Check out the festivities.
Animation legend Tom Sito sits with ASIFA-Hollywood head Antran Manoogian.
Oktapodi PR rep Mary Reardon chats with AWN senior editor Bill Desowitz.
This Way Up nominee Alan Smith (l) chats with Irene Kotlarz and LAIKA's Tom Knott.
Overtime director Oury Atlan (l) with DreamWorks' John Tarnoff.
Ron Diamond (l) shows his famous sketchbook to Alan and Oktapodi's Quentin Marmier.
La Maison's Kunio Kato meets June Foray.
Lavatory Lovestory's Konstan Bronzit (l) gives Milch director Igor Kovalyov a hug.
Animation vets Bob Kurtz (l) talks with Konstantin.
Oh, what a cute couple.
Konstantin (l-r) and Igor with The Simpsons director David Silverman.
Ferngully director Bill Kroyer (l) and 9 helmer Shane Acker.
The animation community having a good time.
Oscar nominee Emud Mokhberi (l-r) chats with 9 animation supervisor Ken Duncan and past Oscar nominee Shane Acker.
]]>http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-09-acmeawn-party-photo-gallery/feed/Oscar Showcase Tour 09 Sony Gallery
http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-sony-gallery/#commentsWed, 25 Feb 2009 00:03:50 +0000oscartourPhoto GalleriesTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersSony Pictures AnimationLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-sony-gallery/
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http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-academy-screening-gallery/#commentsWed, 25 Feb 2009 00:02:04 +0000oscartourPhoto GalleriesTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersAcademy of Motion Pictures Arts & SciencesLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiPrestoThis Way UpOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-academy-screening-gallery/
This Way Up's producer Charlotte Bavasso, writer/producer Chris O’Reilly, director Adam Foulkes, and director Alan Smith.
One of the highlights of the tour is always the public screening at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. This year the Academy not only hosted a night highlighting the shorts, but also the animated features. Check out the pics for both events.
Animation vets Bob Kurtz and Jane Baer.
Voice over talents June Foray and Will Ryan.
Beauty and the Beast director Gary Trousdale and DreamWorks exec John Tarnoff.
Lavatory Lovestory's Konstan Bronzit fields questions from the press.
Oktapodi directors Thierry Marchand (l-r), Emud Mokhberi, and Quentin Marmier conduct multiple interviews at the same time.
Robot Communications' Taki Tsuyoshi translates La Maison director Kunio Kato's answer.
The directors of the Oscar nominated animated short films.
The Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short Film.
WALL-E helmer Andrew Stanton lays a big one on The Simpsons Movie director David Silverman.
Silverman gets some love from animation vet Bob Kurtz.
Everyone loves David Silverman. Night's panel moderator Tom Sito gives him a kiss as well.
Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osbourne and John Stevenson strike a kung fu pose.
All the feature directors - Osbourne, Stevenson, Stanton, Bolt's Chris Williams and Bolt's Byron Howard - touch some gold.
Sito poses the must know questions to the nominees.
]]>http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-academy-screening-gallery/feed/Oscar Showcase Tour 09 ILM Gallery
http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-ilm-gallery/#commentsTue, 24 Feb 2009 23:47:46 +0000oscartourPhoto GalleriesILMTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiPrestoOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-ilm-gallery/
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http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-pdidreamworks-gallery/#commentsTue, 24 Feb 2009 22:34:47 +0000oscartourPhoto GalleriesPDI/DreamWorksTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-pdidreamworks-gallery/
]]>http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/24/oscar-showcase-tour-09-pdidreamworks-gallery/feed/Oscar Tour Comes to Close at DreamWorks
http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/22/oscar-tour-comes-to-close-at-dreamworks/#commentsMon, 23 Feb 2009 03:21:11 +0000oscartourPersonal MusingsTour DestinationsFilms & FilmmakersDreamWorks AnimationLavatory LovestoryLa Maison en Petits CubesOktapodiThis Way UpOscar Tour 2009http://oscartour.animationblogspot.com/2009/02/22/oscar-tour-comes-to-close-at-dreamworks/
The tour members pose outside the Campanile Theater.
The Oscar Showcase tour came to an end on Friday with a visit to DreamWorks. The filmmakers were clearly tired from their long week and a half, but their excitement hasn’t wavered. Ron invited Academy board member Rick Farmiloe to join us for the day to experience the tour with the filmmakers. The day was a bit of a homecoming for Farmiloe, who served as a story artist on the original “Shrek.” At Disney, he animated classic characters like Lefou in “Beauty and the Beast” and Abu in “Aladdin.”
For the first time, the “This Way Up” filmmakers were able to join the tour. Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes have been busy though, spending much of the week meeting with execs around town on feature projects. Alan said they met with the Hensons, former Fox exec Chris Meledandri, and Sony’s Hannah Minghella. Accompanying the famed commercials directors, their most recent work was seen during the Super Bowl — the Coca-Cola “Avatar” spot — were writer/producer Chris O’Reilly and producer Charlotte Bavasso, who I had met two nights prior at the AWN/Acme Filmworks party. She said the party at Ron’s house was especially nice, because she was tired of restaurant after restaurant every night that she has been in L.A.
Jeffery Katzenberg meets the Oscar shorts filmmakers.
DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg introduced Ron to the standing room only crowd in the Campanile Theater on the DreamWorks lot. He said it was a great year for animation and that he was particular proud of the success of “Kung Fu Panda,” as well as “Oktapodi” directors and DreamWorks India employees Julien Bocabeille and Thierry Marchand. Ron thanked the crowd for coming out and making the filmmakers, who came from all over the world, feel welcome.
During the screening, DreamWorks exec John Tarnoff took the filmmakers to get a hands on demonstration of the studio’s newly developed virtual-set camera system, which like the system used at Sony on “Surf’s Up,” allows the filmmakers to layout shots in previs like a live-action photo shoot. The system can be scaled so that the camera can be used for helicopter shots and the like. The studio has also begun developing a game engine system that can light and provide effects in realtime over the previs animation allowing the filmmakers to get an even better idea of the shots and layout they are selecting. One surprise use the system is for location scouting. Modelers have been using the cameras to virtually walk through their sets and make sure their models are perfect from every angle. The system will get its big screen debut on “Monsters vs. Aliens,” where the technology was used extensively in action sequences. Alan and Adam were quite envious, and hoped that one day systems like this one would be available on smaller houses.
The Q&A brought forth many of the same questions that were asked at the other screenings. John Tarnoff broke the ice asking what the most interesting question the filmmakers have been asked. Alan said the most annoying question was why did you use animation.
Alan, Adam, and Chris put on their 3-D glasses for a sneak peek at Monsters vs. Aliens.
After lunch, the filmmakers were treated to 20 minutes of “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 3-D stereoscopic. Head of character animation Dave Burgess was asked if 3-D makes animating more difficult. He said that cheats that once were used no longer work, because the depth of field needs to be so precise. Alan asked if they have to spend more time on background characters that were previously no more than decoration. Dave said that their new crowd simulation software helps in this area, giving the crowds more life. Dave also revealed that they finished animation six weeks ago, and he is eagerly awaiting the first test screenings. He told me that it was nice to finally watch the footage with a group of people who haven’t be entrenched in the process.
After the screening, the filmmakers broke up into smaller groups to accompany animators to their offices to get a look at what they are working on. I joined Rick Farmiloe, FX, and Konstantin in a visit to Kristof Serrand’s office to see footage from “How to Train Your Dragon.” We had the chance to see early animation test and scene work featuring the main character Hiccup and his dragon. Hiccup, his dragon and other characters’ designs have changed over the course of the project and we saw the different stages as well. The most impressive peek was at one of the fully rendered characters. The hair work on the character’s large bushy beard and long mustache was another step forward in realism. Konstantin was curious how much animation each animator is required to finish in a week. Kristof said the average is supposed to be four seconds, but it depends on what they are animating. For instance, this week he is doing simple reaction shots so he might get as much as 10 seconds done, while in weeks with heavy action shots he might only get two seconds done. As he was showing us some of the wonderful dragons, he pointed out that the snake-like movement of a long-necked two-headed dragon was particularly hard to animate. He made the observation that what was easy in 2D is tough in CG, and visa versa.