Annecy part 3: Friday and Saturday

I’m so sorry this is such old news…it took me ages to get this online…

Friday 11th June part 2

16:00 Making of Pixar: Three Dimensional Storytelling

Finally! The world premiere screening of Day&Night! Catch it before Toy Story 3 or if you live in a country where it’s not out yet… (yeah… same here…) you can see an exclusive clip here.

I think the idea is genius! I really like the integration of 2D and 3D animation. On the story side though I prefered Partly Cloudy. Peter Sohn’s short really got to me. I cry each and every time I see it. I just can’t help myself. Day & Night isn’t as strong emotionally imo. But it’s more interesting considering it uses animation like never before.

After the screening, Teddy Newton, the director, talked about the making of. His initial idea came from a keyhole he was doodling. He added eyes and hands and thought the character looked rather fun. During a trip to Rome, he saw the view of St Peters through the Knight’s of Malta key hole and knew he wanted to do something with this idea…

The toughest part was to get the two mediums to work seamlessly together. He saw it in a very candid way at the beginning and thought it would be pretty simple, but realised quickly that they were actually going to make 3 movies in one: the 3D movie by day, the 3D movie by night and the 2D animation above it all. They had to find a way for the 2D and 3D animations to be framed and timed correctly even though the 2 teams could not see each others work! There was a lot of back and forth and tweaking and adjustments, but I must say, once again, they nailed it!

The second talk was about the use of stereoscopic 3D at Pixar by Bob Whitehill, Stereoscopic Supervisor. At first there was a lot of concern at Pixar about stereo: did they need it, wouldn’t it be distracting, etc.?  His main message was that the way they treat 3D at Pixar is the same as they treat all other techniques: it has to serve the story. It shouldn’t cry for attention, it should just blend in and enhance the mood of the shot.

After the conference I went back to the trade show to clean up the booth. In the evening I met up with friends for diner and drinks. We then went to a party at one of their friend’s apartment. Once again met lots of interesting people and had a great night. Can’t believe it’s the last “Annecy soirée” already!

Saturday 12th June

Only screenings today! Missed the morning one (hard to get up early and had packing to do…)

14:00 Redline
Director Takeshi Koike, Japan, 2009
Wow now that’s crazy anime! Fast paced, lots of techno music, harsh lines and bright colors, cheesy script. I must say it’s not my fave, but it was interesting to see….

18:00 Evangelion shin gekijoban: ha
Direction: Hideaki Anno, Japan, 2009
It is the second of four films released in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy based on the original anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. I haven’t seen the series nor the first film so there are somw parts of the plot that I didn’t fully understand. Still it was a nice anime if not amazing.

I can’t believe the 50th edition is already over… It was a great year. I had a wonderful time even though I’m totally exhausted! Can’t wait for next year! 🙂

Annecy part 2: Thursday and Friday

Day 4: Thursday 10th June

I was at the booth for the opening at 9am: a bit hard after yesterday’s party… But I got to leave it to attend the Walt Disney presentation and a few recruitment sessions.

12:00 Walt Disney presentation and recruitment sessions

They presented their talent development program and showed us the reels that got several of their trainees into the program. This was very interesting as it illustrated the kind of work they were looking for. They also showed us what the interns worked on at Disney and how they improved their skills.
On the announcement front, not much except for the new Tangled trailer which is now out on the internet. They also told us they were working on bringing back Winnie the Pooh in 2D.

In the afternoon I went to a couple more recruitment sessions before returning to the booth for the rest of the afternoon. Two friends from Geneva also came for the day. We tried to go to the Gobelins cocktail party but didn’t have any invitations. So we went for drinks and diner in Annecy’s old town. In the evening Martin Solveig, a famous French DJ was mixing on the Paquier (big lawn in front of the lake and center of the Festival). I’m not a big fan of his but I was amazed by the number of people there! It was totally crazy!

Day 5: Friday 11th June

Last day of the MIFA already. Was at the booth the whole morning but left at 2pm to attend the Walt Disney Princess and the Frog presentation and the first screening of Pixar’s day and Night short and conference.

14:00 : Making of Disney : The Art of Traditional Animation by Ron Clements and John Musker

John Lasseter was especially excited to use New Orleans as  the setting for this movies because it’s one of his favourite cities. During the year of pre-production they organised  several trips to inspire the team. Their first visit was in March 2006 during the Jazz Festival. They couldn’t help but notice that music and food were two themes central to New Orleans.

The visual development process starts pretty early on, even before the script is finished. In this way it can influence the story and vice versa. For example, as the villain is called the Master of Shadows, one of the vis dev artists imagined giving him an army of shadows. They liked the idea and incorporated that into the script.

The next step is storyboarding. It starts pretty early as well. A lot of the rewriting and editing happens then rather than on the script. Once again the visuals are very important and can drive the story. They also like having the different storyboard artist’s input to enhance the script.

Influences and inspiration for the look of the film:

  • Aaron Douglas, a Harlem renaissance artist for Tiana’s soong.
  • Other disney movies:  Bambi for the softness of the rendering, Lady and the Tramp as it was also set in New Orleans
  • The color code they used is the same as Mardi Gras: purple, yellow and green. Purple stands for evil, Yellow for warmth and home, and Green for good with the frogs and the bayou.

Questions:

Was everything hand drawn?
They wanted to stay away from CG as much as possible to celebrate hand-drawn animation. All in-betweens are hand drawn and the clean up was done on paper. Only for FX did they go paperless and therefore some of the in betweens are CG.

Attention: SPOILER!
How did they handle the death of a major character in a child’s movie?
Funerals in New Orleans are very unique and they wanted to show that in their movie. Also they liked the idea of revisiting the whole death and resurrection theme which is often present in Disney movies (Snow White) but with a twist. And even though Ray dies, he is reunited with his love… Love transcends everything…

How has it been working together for 25 years?
They argue a lot but also listen to each other. They like bouncing ideas off one another, especially during the writing of the script, which they do together. As for directing they split the sequences and each one gets his own. But it still feels as a whole probably because their sensibilities are very similar. They have a very similar background as well.

Pixar conference and Saturday screenings coming soon… 🙂

Annecy part 1: Monday to Wednesday

So here’s part 1 of my week’s recap.

Day 1: Monday 7th June

Monday is always a slow day. The conferences meetings and fair haven’t started yet so you can spend the day walking around Annecy’s charming old town and watching some cool animation.

My first screening was only scheduled for 14:00 so I spent the morning and lunch break reading all the different programs,: information booklets etc. they handed me at registration. There’s so much to see! I wish I could divide myself into several bodies… but well… will have to make a choice… On top of that, Pixelux has a booth at the MIFA this year, so I will have to spend a fair amount of time there doing DMM demos.

14:00 Commissioned films in competition
I like starting with commissioned films. Most of them are pretty short so the pacing is fast. Keeps things entertaining! My faves:
Harmonix “The Beatles: Rock Band”, Pete Candeland, Passion Pictures
Aides “Graffiti”, Yoann Lemoine, Wanda Productions (Warning: content inappropriate for some users)
Going West, Martin Andersen & Line Andersen, Colenso BBDO
Sour “hibi no neiro”, Masashi Kawamura & Hal Kirkland & Magiko Nakamura & Masayoshi Nakamura

16:00 Graduation films in competition 3
Interesting selection. Quite a few faves:
The Lighthouse keeper, david Francois & Rony Hotin & Jeremie Moreau & Baptiste Rogron & Gaelle Thierry & Mailys Vallade, Gobelins l’Ecole de l’Image
Once again a beautiful short from les Gobelins.
Benigni, Elli Vuorinen & Jasmini Ottelin & Pinja Partanen, Turku Arts Academy
Funny and weird. Entertaining till the end.
Parade, Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet, Doncvoila / Petite Ceinture
Great use of animation
KungFu Bunny 3 – Counterattack, Zhi Yong Li, Communication University of China
Just plain fun!

18:00 Short films in competition
Good but not great. My fave:
The Lost Thing, Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan, Passion Pictures Australia PTY LTD

Day 2: Tueday 8th June

Nothing much today: we had to install our booth and the furniture was late. The good thing is we are just opposite Disney so we should get a lot of traffic and hopefully a glimpse at their cool demos.

21:00 Feature Film in Competition no 5: Summer Wars
Director: Mamoru Hosody, Prod Madhouse inc, Japan, 2009
In a world where the Oz virtual platform has replaced internet, everyone has a second life. One summer in the country a family finds itself confronted with a world crisis coming from Oz. A war begins. Watch trailer.
Interesting movie. Funny at times. Some weird twists in the story. I think there are just too many themes, too much going on so nothing really gets developed properly. It felt like the story was jumping all over the place.

Day 3: Wednesday 9th June

1st day of the MIFA. I spent most if my time at the booth, but still got a chance to attend a few conferences:

9:30 Conference: VFX and Animation
I couldn’t attend the whole conference but only one talk and a half:

Thomas Duval Director of VFX at Duran Duboi

He talked about the recreation of the Veldiv for the movie “la Rafle”. They had very little reference which made it much more difficult for them. Moreover, the director wanted everything to be as close to reality as possible.
He also explained their pipeline and how they plan budgets.

Nicolas Scapel Head of Rigging at Framestore

He talked about his work on the movie “Where the Wild Things Are”. I found this talk more interesting but unfortunately had to leave before the end.
I didn’t know that there had been quite a few attempts to adapt the book before, including a 2D and 3D hybrid animation by John Lasseter in 1983!
The shooting began in 2006. Spike Jones wanted everything to be live action. They even built very complicated animatronics to animate the monster’s faces. Unfortunately they realised on set that this was unusable so they just shot the actors with the suits and masks with no facial expressions.  What the director wanted Framestore to do was just animate the faces. He was happy with everything he shot but needed the monster’s faces to show some acting. They used a technique called projection mapping. It’s a kind of hybrid of warping and 3D.

11:00 Dreamworks presentation and recruitment session
Dreamworks presented their different offices in the US and India. They showed us pictures of the studios and staff and explained how the pipeline worked etc.  They also showed us a few special tidbits. The new Megamind trailer and…. a work in progress of a Kung Fu Panda 2 shot! 🙂 I really liked the first movie. Probably one of my Dreamworks favourite with Shrek. I hope the sequel will be as good…
As for the recruitment session, it was a bit rushed. There were so many people! Most of them were animators and concept artists. There was only one lighter nad I was the only FX person. I gave them my demo reel and CV but they didn’t have the time to look at it so well… we’ll see..

After the MIFA closed at 19:00 there was an opening day cocktail in the beautiful garden in front of the Imperial followed by the opening party at 21:00. Met some great people and just had a wonderful time! 🙂 This year the party was held at the Palace de Menthon which is about 20 minutes away. I must say the setting was amazing! The palace overlooks the lake and was lit up for the occasion. It looked stunning. I think that’s one of the reasons Annecy is so popular: it’s so beautiful. The turquoise lake, the mountains, the Imperial palace, the old town, the canal, all of it is really charming.

Annecy 2010: and the Winners are…

WOW last week was so busy! I didn’t even get the chance to update at all!  I can’t believe it’s finished already. I’ll be posting recaps of my week soon… promised! It was amazing, as always. Can’t wait for next year!

I was really lucky because I only got to see a couple of selections and alot of the winners ended up being in there.
And the winners are: (this list isn’t complete, to see the full list see the Annecy Animation Film Festival website)

Feature Films

Cristal for Best Feature:
“Fantastic Mr Fox”, Wes Anderson, USA
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Special Distinction:
“Kerity la Maison des contes”, Dominique Monféry, France, Italy
Audience Award:
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”, Wes Anderson, USA

Haven’t see any of them.Yes I know: shame on me! But I know what DVD I will rent next… 🙂

Short films:

The Annecy Cristal
“The Lost Thing”, Andrew Ruhemann, Shaun Tan, Australia, Great Britain
The Lost Thing
Special Jury Award
“Sinna mann” (Angry Man), Anita Killi, Norway
“Jean-Luc Xiberras” Award for a first film
“Jean-François”, Tom Haugomat, Bruno Mangyoku, France
Special Distinction ex æquo
“Les Journaux de Lipsett” (Lipsett’s Diaries), Theodore Ushev, Canada
“Don’t Go”, Turgut Akacik, Turkey
Don't Go
Audience Award
“Sinna mann” (Angry Man”), Anita Killi, Norway

“The Lost thing” is a beautiful short, very poetic. The story is interesting but what I really prefered was the art direction. The original designs of both the characters and environments, the rich textures and soft lighting gives it a very unique look. Watch the trailer!

TV

The Cristal for best TV production
“Der Kleine und das Biest” (“The Little Boy and the Beast”), Johannes Weiland, Uwe Heidschötter, Germany
Der Kleine und das Biest

Commissioned films

Advertising or promotional film Award
Harmonix “The Beatles: Rock Band”, Pete Candeland, Great Britain, USA

Award for best music video
Sour “Hibi No Neiro” (Sour “Tone of Everyday”), Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland, Magico Nakamura, Masayoshi Nakamura, Japan

Both were really cool. The Beatles Rock Band is an explosion of colours and graphics and so many crazy ideas. It reminds me a bit of the Coca Cola Hapiness Factory ad by psyop. And the execution is flawless. The idea for the music video is really cool. It’s a bit hard to explain so just watch it!

Graduation films

Award for best graduation film
“The Lighthouse Keeper”, David François, Rony Hotin, Jérémie Moreau, Baptiste Rogron, Gaëlle Thierry, Maïlys Vallade, France, Gobelins, L’Ecole de l’Image
The Lighthouse Keeper

Annecy D-2

Yay! The Annecy Animation Film Festival is only 2 days away! Looking forward to a week of animation, meetings, conferences, talks, networking and much more in the beautiful city by the lake. It will be my 4th (or 5th?) time attending.. .and I love it there! Pixelux has a booth this year, so I won’t be able to run around as much. But I still have tickets for a couple of cool shows and I’ll try to keep track of what I’ll be up to here…