Posted by Terry on January 15, 2013

The Banff Centre recently announced a National Film Board/Banff Centre Work Study that involved working with Cam Christiansen, a filmmaker who produced, directed, and animated I Have Seen the Future which was in our 2008 festival.

Applicants needed the following qualifications as quoted from the website:

  • Education and training in digital visual effects and computer graphics
  • Working knowledge of Maya, Photoshop, After Effects
  • Knowledge of other graphics, 3D, and compositing software

So where can a person who might be interested in applying for such a work study program pick up the qualifications they’d need to do so? We have had some great student animated films in past festivals so I thought it would be helpful to show them and take a look at which schools they came from.

But first, I’d like to share two of my favorites from the 17 NFB films we’ve screened over the last 6 years: Academy-Award winning The Danish Poet which was in our 2007 fest, and The Necktie which was in our 2009 fest.

The Incident at Tower 37, which screened in our 2010 fest, is one of the most powerful environmental films I’ve ever seen. Written and directed by Chris Perry who is the associate professor of Media Arts and Sciences at Hampshire College, the film began production as part of an interdisciplinary group-based production course in the fall of 2005. Writes Chris in his Director’s Statement, “I have created a sequence of courses at Hampshire College (in Amherst, MA) that bring interdisciplinary collaboration into the animation classroom. These classes have put students from all corners of campus into the same room and given them the same assignment, namely, to produce a high-end computer animated short film. To meet this goal, we turn the classroom into a classroom-studio, where working relationships are forged between studio artists, animators, filmmakers, composers, and computer scientists.”

Bottle is a 5-minute love story written, directed, animated, edited, and sound designed by Kirsten Lepore who has an MFA from CalArts, i.e. the California Institute of the Arts, which has an impressive number of alumni represented among the short and feature length Oscar nominations announced on January 10.

And here’s how Kirsten did it.

I heard about Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand from James Cunningham who is a Senior Lecturer at the school. In 2011, we screened Poppy, a powerful performance-captured CGI drama that he directed.

The story behind Poppy can be found in an interview and on the website.

In 2012, we screened 3 of the films that he directed and produced at the Media Design School with his students: Das Tub, Time for Change, and Rotting Hill.

And finally, there is the DIY school (i.e. learn by doing-it-yourself) and there is only one film and animator that best illustrates this: The Passenger which was written, designed, modelled, textured, illuminated, animated, composed, recorded, mixed, edited, produced and directed by Chris Jones of Australia. While studying Industrial Design at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, he started working as a freelance children’s book illustrator. After graduation he became a computer game artist at Beam Software which became Infogrames. He left Infogrames in May 2000 to complete work on The Passenger which screened in our 2007 fest and in our 2009 school program.

Check out Chris’ Useless Information which includes a gear list of the software and hardware he used, as well as his story on How to Make a Seven Minute Film in Just Eight Years which is amusing and fascinating.

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