SIGGRAPH once again played host to the esteemed Computer Animation Festival: impressive attendance in the Electronic Theater, and great content from across the CG industry
Vancouver played host to the Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH last week, showcasing short films, commercials and project breakdowns.
The very best, as chosen by the subcommittee and jurors of the festival, including the likes of Katrina Elliott, a producer at Digital Domain, and independent artist Meats Meier, were shown at the Electronic Theater, which took place downstairs in the convention centre each evening.
3D World caught the Electronic Theater on the Wednesday evening where we saw some incredible work that showed, despite a tough year for the industry, a lot of great innovation.
The student shorts also continued their tradition of getting better each year.
As the lights dimmed for the 6pm event, there was a sense of excitement – so many of these films show up on YouTube eventually, lacking quality and context – but on the big screen in front of real CG professionals and fans, that’s the way to see them.
First up was a short film titled ABCs of Animation. It’s made by Cirkus Animation, and is a wonderful piece with a distinct informercial style and voice over that explains the struggles and confusion of high-end 3D animation.
It was occasionally a little too self-referential as it continued through its 7-minutes, but it still received a great reception, full of knowing laughs and groans.
The film itself has been online for awhile, uploaded last year by Cirkus, check it out below:
VFX studio takeover
A large chunk of running time was given over to the major VFX studios. The majority came from ILM and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
The former had its work on Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Super 8 and Rango presented, with breakdown videos of the key effects.
Imageworks showed clips and breakdowns from The Smurfs, Arthur Christmas, Green Lantern, and Zookeeper.
The Smurfs breakdown showed the full look development for a Smurf, detailing the subtle facial changes to truly give each character its own look – difficult when each one is based largely on being small and blue.
Arthur Christmas also had a good response – it’s funny and quirk-filled animation style was quite a separation, possibly less ambitious, than the Smurfs, but of a similarly high-quality.
The short animations, whether student or professional, are always a huge highlight for 3D World at SIGGRAPH.
Despite the likes of Ringling College showing reels throughout the exhibition on the stands, we’ll never get enough of seeing the style and skill coming from the next generation of professional artists.
This year was no different, with many films gaining rapturous applause. One of the first was Hezarfen, a great little short that we presented in our Short Cuts section in issue 141 earlier this year.
Based on a 17th century Turkish legend about the first flying human, the short shows how indecision can set off a chain of events, that come full circle in hilarious fashion.
On the big screen, the film was even better than we remembered – in terms of energy and tempo, it reminded us a lot of the hugely successful short Oktapodi, from 2007, which broke out of the Computer Animation Festival, winning the Best in Show award and going on to gain a nomination at the Academy Awards.
This year, the Best in Show award went to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
It’s caused quite a stir in the CG industry, followed by success on iTunes, so its celebration wasn’t a surprise.
The short film was directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios, using a variety of techniques including miniatures, 3D, and 2D animation. View the trailer:
2011 was another great year for the Computer Animation Festival, and the hugely anticipated Electronic Theater.
If you’d like to keep your ears to the ground with 3D animation, and perhaps hear about films that may well appear at SIGGRAPH 2012 – you’d do well to check out the Short Cuts section of the magazine, and the animation section of the 3D World website.