Peak Para­dox

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

Xbox game turned anime se­ries stays one step ahead of the time-travel genre’s traps

through­out its re­mark­able run. By Charles Solomon.

2000 and 2001, posts be­gan ap­pear­ing on on­line bulletin boards from one John Ti­tor, who claimed to be an Amer­i­can sol­dier from 2036 who had been sent back to 1976 to re­trieve an early com­puter that could help CERN un­scram­ble some old soft­ware. Some peo­ple be­lieved Ti­tor ac­tu­ally was from the fu­ture — un­til his de­scrip­tions about up­com­ing events proved in­ac­cu­rate.) Stranger and

Stranger As Ok­abe and his friends con­tinue their ex­per­i­ments, the dis­crep­an­cies in­crease be­tween the ver­sion of the present Ok­abe knew and the one that seems to be tak­ing place around him. Even when the land­mark anime and manga stores van­ish from their Ak­i­habara neigh­bor­hood, only he no­tices the dif­fer­ence. Ti­tor tells Ok­abe that his abil­ity to re­mem­ber the ear­lier ver­sions of the past may mark him as the sav­ior who can pre­vent the es­tab­lish­ment of a fu­ture dystopia. Mes­sages from SERN warn that he al­ready knows too much.

Like Ok­abe’s friends, the viewer can never be sure what’s go­ing to hap­pen next — or what re­ally hap­pened pre­vi­ously. Are the texts from Ti­tor gen­uine? Is he re­ally from the fu­ture? Are the threats from SERN real? Could Ok­abe ac­tu­ally be the hero who saves the fu­ture from an op­pres­sive dystopia ruled by SERN? And if he is the “sav­ior,” can he ac­com­plish his mis­sion

It’s the movie that quite lit­er­ally built the House of Mouse. Long con­sid­ered Walt Dis­ney’s mas­ter­piece and one of the most in­flu­en­tial films among today’s crop of all-star an­i­ma­tors, the pic­ture takes us on an iconic jour­ney with the fair princess as she bat­tles a wicked queen. Bonus fea­tures in­clude: In Walt’s Words: For the First Time Ever, Hear Walt Him­self Talk About Snow White; Iconog­ra­phy: Ex­plore How This Film In­flu­ences Pop Cul­ture, Art And Fash­ion; @Dis­neyAn­i­ma­tion: Designing Dis­ney’s First Princess — Mod­ern-Day Dis­ney Artists Dis­cuss the De­sign of Snow it an “in­stant clas­sic” and more than 16 years af­ter its re­lease the film is still pop­u­lar enough to war­rant this DVD re-re­lease. Spe­cial fea­tures in­clude: two ver­sions of the film – The Iron Giant: Sig­na­ture Edi­tion (2015) and The Iron Giant: Orig­i­nal The­atri­cal Edi­tion (1999), fea­ture-length com­men­taries by di­rec­tor Brad Bird, head of an­i­ma­tion Tony Fu­cile, story depart­ment head Jeff Lynch and Giant team of crea­tures who must pre­serve and pro­tect the Pride Lands. Kion brings to­gether a group of un­likely heroes: Bunga, a tough but kindly honey badger, Beshte the hippo, Fuli the chee­tah and Ono the egret. Like all of us, they fight to main­tain bal­ance on the lands they all share and pre­serve will test his op­ti­mism and pluck while Snoopy must bat­tle the Red Baron for dom­i­na­tion of the blue skies. The film­mak­ers took great care to honor the legacy of Charles M. Schulz while find­ing the right way to in­tro­duce these char­ac­ters to a new gen­er­a­tion of fans. The film is also avail­able on BD for $22.99 or 3D for $27.99. Bonus fea­tures in­clude 6 Snoopy Snippets, “Bet­ter When I’m Dancin’” mu­sic and lyric videos from Meghan Trainor, Learn to Draw Snoopy, Wood­stock and Char­lie Brown, Get Down with Snoopy and Wood­stock mu­sic video, a be­hind the scenes of “Bet­ter When I’m Dancin’” fea­turette and Snoopy’s Playlist.

Dear an­i­ma­tion stu­dent:

Here’s a se­cret: I am so to­tally jeal­ous of you! What could be bet­ter than spend­ing four years eat­ing, sleep­ing and breath­ing an­i­ma­tion? You get to learn an­i­ma­tion his­tory, you get to study move­ment in car­toons from all over the world and you get to un­ravel cool anec­dotes like why a teapot is an in-joke in CG mod­el­ing and ren­der­ing. Not to men­tion the fact that it’s now okay to doo­dle in class.

Sure you’re stressed out about grades and land­ing a gig af­ter grad­u­a­tion, but se­ri­ously — right now — your job is to im­merse your­self in all things car­toons.

What could be bet­ter than that?

Here’s an­other se­cret: My job, as an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer — and that, by the way, is just a fancy ti­tle for a crazy per­son who at­tempts to pack­age ideas and sell them to peo­ple with enough money to pro­duce said ideas as TV se­ries or films — is to con­nive.

I spend my days con­niv­ing pitch meet­ings with devel­op­ment ex­ecs; con­niv­ing out-ofthe-box deal points so that the par­ties in­volved in a po­ten­tial devel­op­ment deal will ac­tu­ally sign the con­tract and not walk away from the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble; con­niv­ing new ways to keep artists and line pro­duc­ers from melt­ing down dur­ing pro­duc­tion; con­niv­ing a good punch line to fill those awk­ward mo­ments dur­ing Skype calls with in­ter- na­tional co-pro­duc­ers that in­evitably oc­cur af­ter some­one just loses it and screams in­co­her­ently for eight min­utes straight.

And my nights, you might ask? Oh, I spend those wor­ry­ing about whether or not the dainty cow in my client’s lat­est con­cept is truly go­ing to be “as­pi­ra­tional” for a tele­vi­sion au­di­ence con­sist­ing mainly of seven-year-old boys. Sigh … you get the drift? Once you’re out of the won­der­ful womb that is an­i­ma­tion school, you’re toast. I mean, you’re prob­a­bly re­ally de­li­cious toast with peanut but­ter and jam, but damn … it all changes when you get a full­time gig and the tough re­al­i­ties of the work­ing world hit you like an anvil.

Your trea­sured col­le­giate mo­ments of “dream­ing up car­toons” are go­ing to be hugely cur­tailed by the mere fact you are now mak­ing a liv­ing do­ing what you love. Be­cause — and I know this sounds silly — it’s no longer a dream. It’s that thing you do ev­ery day for eight to 10 hours and it can in­clude things like grumpy bosses, dis­grun­tled fel­low em­ploy­ees, un­rea­son­able dead­lines, week­end over­time and, some­times, flat out bore­dom. Sure, it’s awe­some to work at a stu­dio and draw, but some­times … not so much. Some­times, or maybe most of the time, you’d rather be draw­ing your own char­ac­ters and work­ing on your own TV show in­stead of some­one else’s. Just sayin’… That’s why I’m warn­ing you now! You’ve got to spend some of your rare, free, an­i­ma­tion school hours — when you are in to­tal car­toon im­mer­sion — com­ing up with

hen you’re a re­cent grad or an in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor look­ing to break into the in­dus­try, it can be a daunt­ing en­deavor. That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that it is im­pos­si­ble. You need to ed­u­cate your­self about the cur­rent state of the in­dus­try, what’s hap­pen­ing where, and how to best ap­proach the be­gin­ning of your ca­reer in this ever-evolv­ing world of an­i­ma­tion.

First off, let’s ad­dress the sore sub­ject of what has hap­pened re­cently here in the United States, in both an­i­ma­tion and vis­ual ef­fects. Well, in short, many U.S. fa­cil­i­ties have opened up shop in — or just flat out moved their fa­cil­i­ties to — other coun­tries where the tax in­cen­tives are just too good to pass up from a busi­ness stand­point.

We’ve seen a huge boom in Canada. Van­cou­ver has be­come a ma­jor hub for both an­i­ma­tion fa­cil­i­ties as well as vis­ual ef­fects houses that bid on the VFX work needed for fea­ture films, and then cre­ate those seg­ments. Van­cou­ver also boasts a thriv­ing tele­vi­sion mar­ket­place, and is home to many out­stand­ing stu­dios.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the United King­dom has been gar­ner­ing much of the work in vis­ual ef­fects in the last 10 years. Many of the best vis­ual ef­fects houses that call Lon­don home also have sis­ter fa­cil­i­ties in Van­cou­ver and now Mon­treal. Toronto is also part of the boom, but Van­cou­ver and Mon­treal re­main in the lead as far as the types of houses and scope of work pro­duced in those lo­cales.

We’ve also seen this trend with China and In­dia. The dif­fer­ence is that Chi­nese and In­dian an­i­ma­tion and vis­ual ef­fects stu­dios of­ten only pro­vide the back end of the pro­duc­tion pipeline, but this is chang­ing as more overseas fa­cil­i­ties are creat­ing their own con­tent and dis­tribut­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally.

There are other coun­tries where an­i­ma­tion and vis­ual ef­fects are boom­ing: Aus­tralia, Sin­ga­pore and France, to name a few. This is a global in­dus­try now, pe­riod. You will need a pass­port, re­gard­less of what coun­try you cur­rently re­side in or where you think you will stay. Imag­ine los­ing out on a big break or job only be­cause you don’t have a pass­port ready to go? Also, open your­self to the re­al­ity that you may be liv­ing in nu­mer­ous coun­tries over the course of your ca­reer. Em­brace this fact and en­joy the scenery and cul­tures you will ex­pe­ri­ence, and you’ll be much more suc­cess­ful than your peers who may limit them­selves hugely by only look­ing at one part of the world for op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Clearly there are many ar­eas of in­dus­try that re­quire an­i­ma­tion or vis­ual ef­fects ta­lent, not just film and TV. The world of video gam­ing and tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial work could be a 20-page write-up in it­self. The main thing, as an an­i­ma­tor or any artist in the pipeline (mod­el­ers, rig­gers, lighters, fur and cloth, com­pos­i­tors, etc.), is to un­der­stand where your strengths lie and fo­cus on no more than two or three dis­ci­plines. There are a mil­lion “jack of all trades, mas­ter of none” jour­ney­men artists, and you don’t want to be in that cat­e­gory.

Also, it is key to re­mem­ber this point as you ap­proach fa­cil­i­ties: the big­ger the house, the more com­part­men­tal­ized the pipeline. If you are work­ing at a small to medium size game, TV or film house, you may touch many parts of the pipeline. If you are work­ing at a large fa­cil­ity, you will only be do­ing one or pos­si­bly two types of work. So make two reels when you are start­ing out, one for smaller houses and one for the mother ships.

Also, if when hear­ing the word “an­i­ma­tion” your brain only trig­gers a cer­tain genre — be it your fa­vorite video game, a TV show you love, or well known char­ac­ters from a huge an­i­mated fea­ture film — it’s time to broaden your scope. An­i­ma­tion takes form in so many dif­fer­ent ways, and in so many dif­fer­ent are­nas. If at first you ap­proach your dream com­pa­nies and get nowhere, con­sult your mag­i­cal friend the In­ter­net and start send­ing your reel and re­sume to other com­pa­nies that may give you your first foot-in-the-door op­por­tu­nity.

An­other key point: Know who you are as an artist. Do you pre­fer car­toony an­i­ma­tion or is your pas­sion more in pho­to­real char­ac­ter an­i­ma­tion? For in­stance, there is a tremen­dous amount of an­i­ma­tion done in both live-ac­tion films and TV shows at heart. Crea­ture an­i­ma­tion is its own an­i­mal (no pun in­tended), and many artists find that work­ing on fic­tional beasts is more ful­fill­ing and ex­cit­ing to them than work­ing only on CG an­i­mated char­ac­ters. Be­ing able to work in var­i­ous styles is great, but when start­ing out, go to­wards what you love.

All in all, it’s a great time right now to be an artist sim­ply be­cause there is a tremen­dous amount of pro­duc­tion hap­pen­ing in both an­i­ma­tion and vis­ual ef­fects glob­ally. It’s al­ways been a chal­lenge to break in and get that first job, but many fa­cil­i­ties are open­ing more po­si­tions up for tal­ented peo­ple that can be groomed and move up the ranks. When you get this op­por­tu­nity, show up early, lis­ten, work hard, play well with oth­ers, ab­sorb the amaz­ing wealth of knowl­edge that sur­rounds you in the form of more se­nior col­leagues, and you will be on your way to a happy ca­reer.

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