Article written by Elliot Cowan.
Animation, animation, animation.
We live and breath it every day, but the majority of us are, for the most part, active in only a small part of this vast medium. There’s a big wide world of animation out there and ASIFA-East invited some of that world to come and chat. Last Tuesday, the 19th, a panel of representatives from five of New York’s top CGI and FX houses was hosted by Linda Beck.
The panelists were:
Lucien Harriot of Mechanism Digital
Mechanism played two reels for us. The first was a collection of their 3D and live action compositing, consisting mostly of work completed for educational purposes – History Channel etc. The second reel was a compilation of shots from film and television projects that needed some kind of digital “touch up” – adding snow, changing the color of a outfit, removing something from a scene. Everyone loves this kind of thing, I think.
Joe Burrascano of Nathan Love
Joe showed us a terrific collection of television commercials and a short film project with lots of blood and guts. Their work features lots of character animation in a variety of styles. The suicidal cabbage was done in an especially nice painterly style and was animated beautifully.
Scott Stewart of SpeakeasyFX
SpeakeasyFX most recently produced a whacking great slab of terrific character animation for Seasame Workshop’s new Abby’s Flying Fairy School series. It was a delight to see the traditional Sesame puppets reproduced in CG with all their fur and whispy hair intact.
Michael Feder of Hornet Inc
Hornet represents a large collection of directors, each with an individual style. The reel they played for was very much in the “something for everyone” vein. Hornet is really the only studio who tackle 2D character animation on a regular basis – most of what we saw was Flash or After Effects (or both) based.
David Hullin of Framestore
If you weren’t at the event, chances are you’ve seen a great deal of what David showed us. Framestore is an international CG company which produces high end photorealistic animation for commercials and film and television projects.
A range of topics was discussed – What does each studio produce? What do they look for in a potential employee? What kind of reel do they like to see? Are they interested in 2D animation? What software do they use? etc. etc. etc.
When there are five people on a panel, there are going to be several responses to these questions, so I’ll try and sum up the main points as neatly as possible.
Commercials, television work, games and film production (animation and effects) are the three main areas of business for these guys – with some studios interested in pursuing their own properties. Framestore released The Tale of Desperaux last year and David Hullin mentioned they were working on something new. Joe Burrascano of Nathan Love showed played a short, visceral animated horror film – perhaps they’ll expand on it sometime. Michael from Hornet briefly discussed a handful of things they’re hoping to expand into bigger projects.
With the exception of Hornet (a studio with working with a collection of directors, each with their own individual style), traditional hand drawn skills are not entirely sought by the CG industry. Your reel should be a reasonable length (well under 5 minutes) and contain your best work. For the most part, 3D studios are using Maya with a few minor exceptions. There appears to be a lack of CG animators in NYC (ironic, really). Most studios had dabbled in iPhone applications but the general consensus was that although it’s a growing market, it still has a long way to go before it’s a regular revenue stream.
It was an interesting evening. The CG and effects world has, for the most part, little to do with most everyday working NY animators. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. I’m not suggesting that everyone should rush out and learn Maya (although it would be useful, I’m sure), but I do think we had five opportunities to make contact with new people who are related to our industry and I think contacts are a very precious thing.
Huge, extra special thanks to Linda C. Beck who organized the evening and moderated the panel. Linda C. Beck, rocks.