Bradford Animation Festival 2012 – Day 3

So there goes another brilliant day at Bradford Animation Festival with even more amazing speakers, students and fun times!
The day started off with a very big debate which I think has been the toughest choice of the entire festival! Was I going to the documentary based on the amazing Chuck Jones, ‘The Magical World of Chuck Jones’, or head to a talk about ‘Bridging the gap from University to Professional Animator’? I went for bridging the gap… because I was hoping that the documentary would one day be within my possession whilst I couldn’t really see the talk around bridging the gap again.

I didn’t take as many notes as I have previously over all today as it’s been a day filled with just eating up all the information and lovely visuals rather than writing it all down as I may have not found as many points to focus upon.
With ‘Bridging the gap from University to Professional Animator’ it was interesting to see how Bradford University allows and makes its students get that industry experience that is so key within the creative industry. It seems as though it’s a lot more structured to the course rather than simply letting the students find the work and organising it themselves. Although it seems like a great way to get people involved, it seemed as though it was still quite nurtured and a lot of creative control was by tutors which sometimes I miss but I’m glad I’m getting to learn from my own mistakes but still it’s still reassuring to have that back up if I ever needed it. The talk had gone through a lot of what the student and tutor had to go through in order to create a short animation for a client and what they both had to do and how they went around it. I’ve yet to deal with pay when doing these sorts of work but it was great to see that there is still chance to ask for costs to be paid and starting that side of the professional experience a lot earlier. It was more interesting to hear their points and the experience they had with the clients so I found it better to take it as advice rather than taking the notes and looking as reference.

Once we had moved on from the bridging talk I had then headed over to ‘The Animation and Games for New Platforms’ talk, the notes are on the same page as ‘Bridging the gap from University to Professional Animator’. The were two main speaking teams within the talk, Peter Stehlik and Jaromir Placky from Aminata and Simon Iwaniszak and Barry Lowndes from Red Kite. It was quite hard to keep track of what was going on with Aminata’s talk as I think there was just some communication and language differences but I think they got the point of their presentation across in a lovely and fun way. They had gone through a lot of pictures and quickly described the process and ideas they had and how they came about to creating these lovely characters for ‘Botanicula’ before moving onto Jaromir’s personal animation work. The characters and trailers they had played were lovely and I think the entirety of Pictureville agreed with me as everyone had a fairly loud giggle and soft spot for the odd characters that the team had created. Once they had moved onto Jaromir’s personal animation, where the characters came from, he opened a mad but simple world that was filled with very solid characters that were incredibly simple designs but with the sound and mad movements really came alive in a fun and humours way. It was interesting to see that he did prefer to work in Flash with his animations and game work which just brings me back to the question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently with the decision to buy Toon Boom or keep with Flash. From discussions with other 2D animators though it seems as though Toon Boom would be a wise purchase for drawn animation using cells within a piece of software, but I still have lots to learn and a good way would be just in stages.
The second part of the talk was interesting and great to see a Leeds based company do something different and be open. Although the company is new hopefully Firefly: The Adventures of Switch, an iOS based side scroll game will do wonders for them and keep growing.

Of course next was one of the two crazy highlights of my day but as it’s ended it was all brilliant as usual. We had the great pleasure of having Mark Shapiro from Laika speaking to us about the work that went into the creation of Paranorman and he also talked a little about Coraline. I did have a very big ‘nerd out’ through the entire talk because after watching Paranorman I’ve suddenly grown somewhat of a new love for stop motion animation and a new appreciation to Laika. Within the time of them creating Coraline and then Paranorman they have become one of my most favourite animation studios so it was great to see more ‘behind the scenes’ and a personal side to the company. Mark did explain a lot of details that had been nagging me over time about Laika and it was inspiring to hear him mention about how many ‘Brit’s’ are within Laika which just opens the possibility of other studios also as it shows the acceptance that people in the US have of over seas animators and workers. It was inspiring and brilliant to see the passion and love these people have for their work, characters and each other. There were some little hidden tricks and slight changes that they had done whilst creating the film to add style or perspective that I didn’t even notice even though I thought I was quite analytical of the film, as you may have read in an earlier post about Paranorman. Little touches light not having a single straight edge within the film or having that realistic nature but with a designed touch. It was interesting to hear him mention about other mediums and discuss how he believes that certain stories fit various mediums and was using Paranorman as an example, although the entire film could have been CG they kept it hand drawn because that’s what the story needed. It becomes a lot more apparent that the mediums the animators and film makers choose to use wouldn’t hinder or make the film better but would only support the story and characters and for some animations certain mediums support that story better. This is something I think I will be touching upon within my dissertation, but its a common interest when people are discussing what medium is ‘the best’. Mark had brought a lot of short videos about various parts of the process to make Paranorman at Laika and a general behind the scenes look. This is why there aren’t that many notes as I may have expected at first due to my ‘giddy-ness’ but it was great to see it all and hear some of the animators and team talk about the work. The most surprising and interesting short though was one of the animators going through the set up he had to do with one frame of the animation which went on for around 5 minutes and this was sped up! When he says one frame as well he doesn’t mean one second, but one frame within 24 frames which adds up to one second. It was an incredible and meticulous process that I know put off Steve as he mentioned he could never do that but maybe I’m just weird but I thought to myself whilst watching it ‘This is nuts, but I’d be there in a heart beat’. Once again though it was great to talk to Mark afterwards later that day but I sadly missed the puppets of Norman, Coraline and one of the zombies but for a very good reason.

It was time for the long-awaited life drawing workshop with the amazing Joanna Quinn. I had sadly missed this last year and was determined not to miss it this year so I had booked both this workshop and Curtis Jobling’s workshop as soon as I knew I could. The workshop though was brilliant, I don’t think I need to say anymore! It was a lovely environment with a lovely bunch of people and although Joanna doesn’t exactly do teaching, she was a brilliant teacher. It was great to get a hands on look at some of the theories I’ve been looking at through my modules and apply these to something with someone like Joanna explaining what it all means. Hopefully through just this workshop my animation skills will improve and I think I have gotten a greater understanding of the movement and detail she, and a lot of other animators, speak a lot about. Although the drawings I did weren’t exactly ‘master pieces’ I think I understood the way in which she was making us look more at the shape, curves and movement rather than drawing all the detail and focusing on too much of the little things and shading. I did write a few notes here and there on some of the drawings I did but I really do love two of them just because of how much they opened my eyes and not because they look brilliant. It was something that I wish was more regular with a similar if not same group as it was so relaxed and fun but incredibly educational in terms of gaining that knowledge and appreciating each others approaches. It was also a nice surprise to have Valerie Kausen, Chuck Jones’ granddaughter who spoke yesterday, next to me and having a nice chat every now and again. It’s been some what of another surreal but great day; I do apologise for using the words inspiring, great, brilliant, lovely and fun but it seems as though that’s just what BAF is.

Here are some quick images of the ‘aftermath’ of the session and then my drawings and my two favourite ones, which is actually also one that Valerie had drawn on as well as a great Sunderland animation student which I had asked Valerie if she could sign, as you do.

To finish the day I also did something I truly do regret not doing last year, which is just getting more involved with the BAFter hours events such as the animation quiz. So I stuck around this time and was able to have a chat with a lot of people again such as Mark Shapiro and Joanna Quinn. It was a nice big relaxed fun house where we just chilled out and tried to answer some great questions about animation! It was teams of five and it was clear that there were some great ones but luckily I was grabbed by some of my friends who are volunteers into a team and came second! For the first time I was actually able to answer questions in a quiz and we came to the same conclusions with a lot of them at the same time. It was just a fun-filled end to another great day, sadly the winning team did take all the books straight away which where amazing but we did get something awesome anyway! They also had lots of left over little goodies so it was a bit of a mad but hilarious scramble for freebies, I’m sure I’ll find a use for a Rango mug and flip-flops…

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