Friday, May 14, 2010

Animation Evening

It's not often that I have to work a ton of overtime at my job but last night was one of those days. I had an incredibly stressful project that needed to be finished that night for the governor's office so I ended up staying at the office much later than usual. Mentally I was drained by the time I got into the car so I called Jeff and told him I was picking up Taco John's (my nearly obsessive guilty pleasure) and did he want anything. A bagful of cheesy, fried, and greasy food later, I settled into the couch to enjoy one of my other favorite activity, watching animated films.
The last time Jeff and I were in Target I noticed a copy of Wallace and Gromit's The Wrong Trousers for a decent price. I love Wallace and Gromit so I did a little persuading (okay I begged) to be able to buy it. Last night I sat down and popped it into my computer. Jeff was working on his last paper for the semester and I didn't want to bother him. The Wrong Trousers was the second Wallace and Gromit film done and I still think it is their best. If you haven't seen it yet, I would recommend finding a copy. It has the duo playing foil to a very crafty penguin. I won't tell you more because I don't want to spoil it. Thirty minutes of pure enjoyment.

After the film itself was done, I watched the Making Of special with Nick Park and Aardman Studios. I got to watch how Nick moved the characters, what a typical shot was like, and a bit about his history as an animator. It was fun but in the back of my mind all I could think about was the fire that Aardman Studios had in 2005 destroying over 30 years of props. It was really tough to think of all of those sets, all of those clay figures, all that art simply gone.

After Wallace and Gromit, I headed over to one of my favorite places to spend time, Animation Blog. This blog, which posts regularly, provides commentary and links on animated films from all over the internet. It focuses more on short films than on the full length features that hit the theaters. And almost all of the films that it offers are wonderful. Some are sweet and sad, others are comical, and still others simply make you think. Most of the great animation being produced right now is simply beautiful. Often the mix of digital and hand-drawn can have some amazing effects. I watched a couple different films off of Animation Blog but then ended up getting sucked onto the YouTube for Gobelins and that's where I stayed.

Gobelins is an art school in France that seems to have one of the best animation programs in the world. The films that these kids are putting out are well above anything that the major studios can put out. So many of them are thoughtful, funny, and sweet, sometimes all at once. I know that when I start a Gobelins film that I'll see something unique and beautiful. Of all the animation that I've watched, these tend to be the films that draw me. I watched probably 15 to 20 of those films last night. The school has just released their film introductions for the upcoming animation festival, Annecy International Film Festival. With only a minute or two these film intros made me practically beg to see the rest. Beautiful, powerful, and exhilarating. This is animation at its finest.

Image from last year's Annecy offering Mostera Deliciosa. In fact this link will lead you to a youtube video for all four of Gobelins film introductions for 2009. You need to click on it. Seriously.

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