Flip Festival (Day 1)


With the festival finally started at 9:30 Friday morning, it was good to see and mingle with the turnout and meet some like-minded individuals, from the Bostin Heroes stall to other students from around the area. The first event kicked off at 9:45 with the first set of open shorts.

Open Shorts 1

Out of the 13 shorts shown, I feel that only three of them really caught my admiration, however it was interesting to see all of them, and the many different styles and techniques used to produce them, as well as the underlying feelings and emotions trying to be portrayed for each, whether lighthearted and fun, or heavy and threatening. I feel I'm much more drawn to more active and solid animation rather than the more conceptual and experimental. I like to see established appealing design over something too insubstantial and tentative.

Hot Dog (Bill Plympton)
Having known of and been a fan of Bill Plympton's work for a while now, even if only intermittently, I knew I was in for a treat with his name on the line up, and it did not disappoint. Similar to another animation he had done 'Guard Dog' and with his very recognisable style throughout. This unique style always reminds me of a more tactile version of Ren and Stimpy, with its sometimes crude humor and massive over-exaggerations and extreme camera angles, but with the medium with which it is produced giving it almost another dimension and texture.

The Astronomer's Dream (Malcolm Sutherland)
This surreal and strange journey into a daydream of an astronomer tells an intriguing story of a figure traveling about in a strange living craft in search of a special food, but always being unsatisfied in a vicious cycle, before ending up destroying everything he sees.
Is this a metaphor for the ever more disposable nature of our world with that fact all the rubbish we produce will have to eventually be re-consumed by us, or else face destroying everything we have? This is how I chose to interpret it, with the main figure being a representation of the human species as a whole, always hungry to consume and acting on impulse. Its easy to read into it in a number of ways but this is what predominantly stuck out for me.
The actual look and feel of the animation was that of loneliness and hunger, but far from macabre due to the vibrant colours and cartoon-like style. It was this clash that became ever more apparent as the  story progressed, with the figure growing larger and more winkled, haggard and ravenous with each lust consumed. This desperation and visible ruin (ever more apparent with a bandaged arm, from gnawing, as a result of his ever increasing hunger) contrasts deeply with the vibrant childlike softness of the design of the characters ad backgrounds.

Escale (Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec)
This short was a beautifully told story in a very illustrative style which I feel suited the mood of the piece perfectly with its watery colours and warm tones in the tavern. Unique character designs and its heart-warming style combined with its saddening story made it feel like an old established story that I should have already heard and known, and I know I won't forget.

Looking at Sound: Hearing Animation

Several panel members from various backgrounds (a teacher of sound design and animation, a freelance producer and others) had gathered to discuss the importance and use of sound in animation. Several of the points raised were:
  • Sound has been important in animation since its very early days with silent films accompanied by a small orchestra.
  • Sound is integral and can be half of the structure of the film sometimes.
  • Are the dynamics of the dialogue, or the musicality of a piece going to have the most hold over the animation?
  • When an animation is planned, sound is usually one of the first things laid out and the rest built around its structure.
  • Care must be taken over IP issues and copyright when using music as some artists will refuse rights have their work edited and tampered with to suit your needs. Care is to be taken and don't take anything for granted to avoid legal issues.
  • Animators are inherently mathematical due to the amount of counting usually required, and this can help with the structuring of sound within a piece.
  • Sound is one of the strongest ways to set the sound or mood in an animation, from deep bass frequencies making people uncomfortable to real world sounds helping the immersion in settings.
  • Sound can tell the story off-screen of what is happening merely with implications and suggestions.

We then saw a few shorts which made use of the sound in each in various ways. In the Adventures of Jeff (the Ozzy with no cozzy!) nearly all of the structure was based around the written speech of the piece and following a very fast linear mood throughout. There was no variation in the mood of the piece as it was a fairly linear comedic animation. Whereas in the Pearce Sisters, there is only a tiny amount of dialogue (one brief muffled line) and most of the story is told through its emotion and feel that the sounds cast, from the howling wind to the shrieking gulls.

Studio Spotlight: Axis Animation

Axis Animation has produced work for internationally known projects such as Colin Mcrae:Dirt, Rogue Warrior and Killzone 2, and Richard Scott, a co-founder of the company gave us an insight into the animation industry. He didn't approach animation through Higher education and was originall trained in graphic design. From there he went into photo-retouching and then starting a small three-man business before moving into the videogame industry, and now has around 35 people on his team.

One of the things he stressed about employment in the industry is that companies will look for creative ability over technical knowledge, that is to say that its more important to have a creative outlook and mindset, as learning software/etc later on can be taught much more easily than vice versa.

Richard also had a valuable insight into a question asked on the previous day's panel: Is it better to be a Jack-of-all-trades or a specialist in one area?

"You have to be a multi-faceted specialist" 
Which I think boils down to this: make sure you can do all of the basic technical aspects of animation, from sound design to editing and more, but choose an area to really specialise in so that you're a valuable asset in that field.

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