CARTOON BLUES: PLATFORM ANIMATION FESTIVAL, DAY 4
As I noted was likely to happen, I skipped the Platform programming yesterday to get some work done. I also wanted to go down to the Central Library here in Portland, where Douglas Wolk was presenting a panel called Appreciating Comics. It consisted of comics people of all stripes: Gail Simone, Colleen Coover, Jen Manley Lee, Dylan Meconis, and Scott McCloud. (Rather than me link to them all, go to the library page on the event.) Since this is Portland, there were also plenty of local creators in the audience, like Diana Schutz, Steve Lieber, and more. I went with Joëlle, and we enjoyed listening to an in-depth talk about our art form. I particularly liked how each creator introduced him or herself by showing some of their favorite pages from their own work that they felt used the comic book form to its most unique advantages.
It was also gratifying that the presentation room filled up as soon as they opened the doors about half an hour before the panel was set to start. Many people were turned away, including some professional comics folks. I think just about everyone who got in walked away with a crush on Colleen Coover, though. She's too cute and funny.
I made my way back to Platform today for a couple of studio presentations. The first was from Aardman, the people behind the Wallace & Gromit movies and so many others. The basic outline of the program was talking about the history of the studio from its earliest days up until now, and using the stop-motion Curse of the Were-Rabbit and CGI Flushed Away to compare and contrast various aspects of production, both traditional and modern. It was a decent event, but one downside of the DVD age is that there was very little by way of special information for the speaker (producer David Sproxton) to impart that wouldn't have already been familiar to anyone who has spent some time with animation discs. I'd even wager some of what we saw was from the Flushed Away DVD.
Still, there were some great clips of very early Aardman efforts, as well as neat promo reels. They showed some of Nick Park's live action enactments of scenes from Were-Rabbit, and a great little how-to demonstration on slapstick put together for a silent film festival. (I looked for this last thing on YouTube, but did not find it.) He also brought along the actual clay models of Wallace, Gromit, and the female lead from the movie (though, I imagine there are many different ones.)
After that, it was a program by Pixar Studios, run by Gary Lyndstrom, an award-winning sound designer and the director of "Lifted," the short that is running in front of Ratatouille. Where Sproxton felt like he was giving us something conventional, Lyndstrom really knocked out a special program. To start, he showed the first four Pixar cartoons--"Luxo Jr.," "Red's Dream," "Tin Toy," and "Knick Knack"--all of which Lyndstrom did sound for. Most of them I hadn't seen in years. He followed this with "Lifted," and from there he walked us through the creation of "Lifted" piece by piece, including reference materials and hilarious videos of the animators experimenting with hair gel to create the substance the alien characters would be made out of. He also isolated sound effects to illustrate how unconventional sources can lead to exciting audio, and showed the construction of various shots in the cartoon.
Best of all, though, is he showed "Lifted" again immediately after, and it was amazing to see all these elements at work. I heard the sounds differently, I saw the visual things I hadn't noticed the first time, and most impressive of all, even though he had exposed the seams, the finished animation still flowed smoothly. The true magic was making all of the mechanics disappear.
I skipped out again on the evening events. Let's just say, something else came up. Joëlle Jones got to see the new Harry Potter film, and I'm doubly cool because I got to see it with Joëlle Jones, who is so kick-ass we should just call her Hermione. Weep in envy, muggles!
Special thanks to the mega-swell Sam Humphries for hooking us up!
Current Soundtrack: various Arctic Monkeys and Erasure
Current Mood: relieved
All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich