Bradford Animation Festival 2012 – Day 2

Yesterday was once again another fun-filled day at the Bradford Media Museum with a day crammed with screenings, talks and much more ‘mingling’.
The day started off with the professional animated screenings which were great but sadly to me nothing was incredibly exciting or did stick in my mind from watching them all. I wasn’t sure whether the talk that we had had later Wednesday was making me think about how a lot of animation today just seems to lack a spark that may be seen elsewhere, bearing in mind that these are animations from all around the world. It seemed to be something that was a little bit less exciting this year although their are a few jems within the different screenings from student to music to professional shorts that I do love and have grown very fond of of course.

The next talk that I had attended was around Creating Virtual Urban Environments which had included four very different but all well experienced professionals around, well what the title describes, creating urban environments for various mediums and uses. With Vanessa Boyce from Double Negative, who spoke later that day but of course I’ll get onto that later, Martin Walker a lecturer in 3D Computer Graphics and Animation at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, Ben Hall Senior Modeller and Lead World Designer at Criterion Games and Jonathan Gales a founding member of Factory Fifteen.
The talk was filled with areas that I truly don’t understand but found incredibly interesting. It was great to see this entire new world that has so many experts within and to see how impressive and inspiring these people can be. They each had a very different route and ended up in quite different areas but it seems that they all do it for the passion and interest and it came across within their work. It seems like an area that I will hopefully look into further but more out of interest as it’s something I know I haven’t really got a skill within. They each had a lot of great pointers and information but it seemed as though the main two things that they all wanted to get across was the attention to detail within imperfections and detail in general and then really pointing out the amount of research and drafts that are needed… research research research!

After a break we returned to the Pictureville to listen to Vanessa Boyce once again whom this time is focused on talking about the work that she and Double Negative have done. If you’re unaware of who Double Negative are then be sure to have a look at there website which I’ll link below this comment as I’m sure you will after you’ve seen the work they’ve done and been involved in.
Their work is nothing short of exceptional and astounding, they are lovers of film and being apart of making it and it’s evident within their work and the way they have spoken at BAF. The realism within the work that Double Negative create seems to be something that has always been just out of reach for myself and I’ve been incredibly focused on more incredibly animated characters that are believable rather than ‘real’. After having listened to Vanessa though and watched the work she did within Total Recall, it seemed like the world was a little closer for me to grasp and it did truly open my eyes more to what this side of the industry is like and demands. I never did however till today really give more thought than I probably should have to the incredibly diversity and work they have created and the number of people and various specialties that build up these amazing pieces of film. Vanessa had first mentioned a bit about her background and how she came to Double Negative and then mentioned some of the films she’s been involved with which was of course incredible, as here are people who have had their own touch on films that you love and admire for their craftsman-ship and because they’re just awesome.. and making them even more personal and have a ‘human quality’ to them. It was interesting to hear how the large Hollywood films work around VFX and the sort of things they have to deal with on a regular basis and it seems as though the common theme within this industry is that it’s difficult, very difficult. From the difficulties with working with depends, to time, to money and to technological issues but persistence and a great team over powers all and it seemed incredibly clear from what Vanessa was saying is that they have one of the best teams. The talk over all was a big jaw dropping, inspiring and fun time which was great to see again at the event as it’s an incredible thing to have these sort of speakers but then have such a relaxed and informal vibe where we can learn so much from them. I did have one terrible issue though within the talk, which was that I sadly still haven’t seen Total Recall but definitely will be with a cheeky insight into the huge world within it. It’s a thing that will now live with me for an incredibly long time if not forever with a new perspective and understanding of film that I can now take away and use to analyze the many films to come that I will get to see.

The next talk was around one of the true heroes of my entire animation loving world, Chuck Jones. Although it wasn’t a documentary or something along those lines, it was amazing to listen to Chuck Jones’ granddaughter, Valerie Kausen, speak about her grandfather and the times she was able to spend with him, the advice he had given her and the general ideas and thoughts around his work that he loved and shared with everyone. Valerie had flown in from New York for the event as well as having spoken about some of the archive drawings that Chuck Jones had done himself within the Media Museum currently on display. It was lovely to hear that these drawings within the museum are actually from his personal collection which astounds me to have something that I see as priceless and beautiful individual pieces of art just down the road and so close! As well as having Paul Wells talk with Valerie they did show some of the animations he had created and directed and then discussed them. From listening to Valerie it was very clear to see how much she loved her grandfather and his work and how much that effected her. There was some lovely tips and quotes that stayed with Valerie that she had passed on to us and some books and research that I definitely need to get onto as soon as I can. Some of the showings as well are animations that a lot of people hadn’t actually seen but you could tell how much effect Chuck had on each one. The animation ‘line and dot’ is actually very relevant to my current work within my Independent Practice to I’ll be looking much more into that. It was refreshing to remember why Chuck was such a brilliant animator and revive some of that inspiration from him and Valerie. It was also one of my highlights of the day to see ‘Feed the Kitty’ on the big screen!

After a short bit of talking to various people and talking about animations, I headed over to listen to the insane, but insanely brilliant stop motion animator Robert Morgan. The talk was laid out as a discussion with Rob Nevitt and then a showing of his animation and then back to discussion then the next animation as it left breaks and it’s something kind of difficult to watch his animations one after another. If you’ve never heard of Robert Morgan, he’s the creator of animations such as ‘Cat with Hands’ and ‘The Separation’. At certain points I find it hard to watch some of the animations and this isn’t because they are ‘bad’ but more because they’re pretty gruesome or scary. Although I do watch a lot of horror and films within that area I’m not actually too great with them sometimes but that’s another story! It was great once again to hear about his background and the reasons why he creates these sorts of animations and in stop motion. It was incredible to hear about how he creates a lot of the models and animations and just generally a lot of the work himself. The talk was filled with his clear passion for the art and his creativity that just couldn’t be kept in and was inspiring to see someone create such mad but funny and very well animated pieces for himself and others. I really enjoyed the way in which he described his passion and style of work which he also added a lot of humour too which just shows how crazy but friendly animators truly are. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in at the moment especially from so many brilliant influences at the moment, so it was interesting to hear how he also made the models and animated. His most recent short film, ‘Bobby Yeah’, that had been screened as the last animation was actually one of my favorites of his animations as it was so insane and some parts just freaky, but it was so well animated and just had such a strange appeal I thought it was brilliant. I was able to catch Robert at the end of the talk to ask his about what he believes is so important to making a character believable, this of course was also in relation to my dissertation and independent practice. He had said about how it was important to let the model speak to you and let the character come out, as he doesn’t plan the actual animations that much he believes in the character being more free and if he scripts them then they can be restricted and the actual believability and character can be ‘killed’. It does of course depend on what you’re wanting from the animation but it was all about letting the character be its own person and putting yourself into that character or in their shoes whilst animating him/her/it.


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