FESTS AND EVENTS J’aime les filles, Louise en hiver Earn Ottawa Grand Prizes
The 40th anniversary edition of the Ottawa International Animation Festival wrapped up by presenting its top honors in an awards ceremony at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts to the short film J’aime les filles (I Like Girls) and the feature Louise en hiver.
The Grand Prize for Features honor was the second for director Jean-François Laguionie, who previously took a Grand Prize at Ottawa in 1982 for La traversée de l’Atlantique à la rame. The full list of award winners: Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short Animation: J’aime les filles, by Diane Obomsawin (Canada, 2016).
Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature: Louise en Hiver by Jean-François Laguionie (France/Canada, 2016). Honorable Mention: Cafard by Jan Bultheel (Belgium/ France/ Netherlands).
Cartoon Network Award for Best Narrative Short Animation: Blind Vaysha by Theodore Ushev (Canada, 2016)
Best Experimental or Abstract Animation: Suijun- Genten (Datum Point) by Ryo Orikasa (Japan, 2015).
Best Undergraduate Animation: Cialo Obce (Foreign Body) by Marta Magnuska (Poland, 2016).
Walt Disney Animation Award for Best Graduation Animation: Frankfurter Str. 99 by Evgenia Gostrer (Germany, 2016).
Best Commissioned Animation: Honda “Paper” by PES (USA, 2015).
Best Short Film Made for Young Audiences: Three Little Ninjas Delivery Service by Karim Rhellam & Kim Claeys (Belgium, 2016). Honorable Mentions: Accidents, Blunders, Calamities by James Cunningham (New Zealand), Novembre by Marjolaine Perreten (France).
Best Animated Series Made for Young Audiences: Shaun the Sheep, “The Farmer’s Llamas” by Jay Grace (U.K., 2015). Honorable Mentions: Summer Camp Island by Julia Pott (USA). Hey Duggee, “The Omelette Badge” by Grant Orchard (U.K.).
Gaumont Animation President Nicolas Atlan announced a promotion for Marc Dhrami to Head of Operations and the hiring of Gaëlle Guiny as Director of Animated Series Developments. ... One Animation hired animation industry heavyweight and producer John McKenna as studio head. McKenna will oversee current productions as well as the development of new multiplatform properties. ... India’s Green Gold Animation announced a new facility opening in Los Angeles to be headed up by Marc Lumer. ... FX promoted Kate Lambert to senior VP development and animation. She will oversee development of animated original series and short-form animation programs for FX Networks. ... Al Kahn, the former founder of 4Kids Entertainment and licensing guru behind bringing the Japanese sensation Pokemon to the states, has been appointed chairman of the board of on-demand kids’ entertainment company Toon Goggles. ... Viacom International Media Networks has appointed Sarah Muller as Head of Children’s at Channel 5 in the U.K. ... Dave Filoni has debarked as supervising director of Star Wars Rebels to take a wider role developing animation projects for Lucasfilm. Justin Ridge takes over as supervising director on the series, now in its third season.
Long before The Hunger Games, there was The Long Walk — a novel about teens who engage in an annual walking contest where stopping means death and being the last one alive means riches beyond compare. Published in 1979 by Stephen King, writing under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, the story earned a lifelong fan in Adriano Gazza, now a 41-year-old motion graphics artist in London who turned his love of the book into a haunting animated short.
Where did the idea for the short come from and why did you decide to tell the story in animation?: When I was 15, I first read Richard Bachman’s (a.k.a. Stephen King’s) The Long Walk. I was completely captivated by the story and always wanted to see a live-action version, albeit with lots of fantasy and surreal imagery elements. It was a long-running joke amongst friends that I could make it. Then after trying to make a live-action version, I realized animation was a method to allow me complete control over my time without having to wait on the availability of other people.
How did you fund the short?: It’s completely self-financed, in that apart from lots of work it didn’t cost me anything (aside from software licenses and the cost of the voiceover artist, Jimmy [Pritts], who did a great job).
How many people worked on the project with you?: It was myself for all of the animation, and my best friend Pep (Rufian), who records as Small Magellanic Cloud, who created the amazing score and soundscape. Helping with my creative choices and sanity was my wonderful wife as well!
How long did it take to finish the movie?: I spent a good year or so testing styles and refining the script and storyboard, then probably nine months or so on production proper. From when I discarded the initial scripts for a live-action approach to now was around five years. It took so long as I have two young children and a full time job, so I worked on my commute and some evenings.
What tools did you use?: Initially, I storyboarded using various apps on my phone, and also did some rotoscoping and animation tests on my iPad, all on my commute. (I once got a thumbs up by a guy watching over my shoulder, giving me a boost. So thanks, sir!) Some of these tests made it to the final film. It was when I started using Mixamo/ Fuse (now owned by Adobe), which allowed me to create 3D characters and add mo-cap data to them, then bring the fbx files into Cinema 4D, that a style emerged that I was pleased with. I further played with textures and overlays in After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop to get the look I was after.
When was the film completed?: I finished it a few weeks ago, then the score was finished and I made some minor tweaks to the visuals with fresh eyes.
What was the most challenging aspect of making your film?: Just finding the time initially. Also, paring down the novel into a coherent short section that could encapsulate the story but not be impossible to produce. I also hit a roadblock earlier this year where I couldn’t seem to get it to come together. Eventually I worked on one scene that I was really pleased with, and this was the breakthrough that allowed me to continue.
What are your future animation plans?: Ultimately, I’d like to work in features, and I have some ideas to develop there. As long as I’m being creative and doing what I love, I’m happy, so each day is a blessing really.
After years of speculation, audiences will finally get to see DreamWorks Animation’s hypercolorful, musical-spectacular take on the classic doll line created by Thomas Dam. And admirers of the artform can crack open this 160-page hardcover to marvel at a treasure trove of art that went into polishing this latest DWA gem. Inside are hundreds of playful, vibrant pieces created by concept and production artists at the studio for the reimagining of the story. Plus, a characteristically charming foreword written by Anna Kendrick, who voices Trolls’ heroine, Poppy, opposite Justin Timberlake’s Branch.
10Head to Butte County, Calif., for Animation Chico, presenting a variety of films from established and upcoming artists worldwide. [animationchico.com]
the other end of the spectrum,” says Mitchell. “The Trolls are optimists, the Bergens are pessimists.”
Mitchell denies any similarity between Shrek and Trolls, aside from the the irreverent comedy and incorporating musical elements — the latter being done in a more direct musical genre fashion than in any previous DreamWorks features.
“It’s not a musical in the traditional sense of a musical,” says Dorhn. “It’s more of a jukebox musical with familiar songs — even though there are original songs as well — but it definitely doesn’t adhere to the traditional musical rules.”
The movie scored a coup in coralling the services of the multitalented Timberlake, who so liked the movie that he agreed to star in it and be its music supervisor.
“He was really eager and tapped right into what we were doing, and improved what Walt and I were doing,” says Mitchell. While the filmmakers had already chosen songs from different eras they thought fit the movie, Timberlake was able to bring a more refined sensibility to those decisions while also contributing to original songs. “He gave it a cohesiveness,” says Mitchell. “It doesn’t feel scattered. All these songs, they really hold together for the story.”
Moving the feature into animation revealed some unusual challenges for the directors. While the characters retained the “ugly-cute” expressions and bodies of the original dolls, their proportions — big heads with small bodies — proved difficult for layout and for animation.
“For layout, it was hard to do an over-theshoulder (shot) when you’ve got a gigantic melon head,” says Mitchell. It also was hard for the Trolls to hug each other — something the script mandated they do every hour on the hour.
And making them move convincingly — and dance — was an animation challenge the production overcame steadily but surely.
“They’re not normal proportions, but we can defy gravity with the dances,” says Dorhn. “We can do all these wonderful things that you couldn’t do in live action, so we used it to our advantage.”
Mitchell praised the skill of the animation team for avoiding the many pitfalls presented by making animated characters dance.
“It sometimes can have a very off-putting … rotoscoped feeling, where it’s like a character that’s wearing a suit rather than your character itself,” says Mitchell. “We did have a choreographer, but (the animators) would just look at it as reference. They were so clever, they could just watch it and then they could apply it, but they’d put their own spin to it.” A Blank Canvas The crew also enjoyed the freedom that came from there being no previous movie or TV show to emulate. “We were snappy when we wanted to be snappy and when it