Tuesday, October 13, 2015

17th Annual Animation Show of Shows

It's not too often we get to see animated short films on the big screen. But producer and curator Ron Diamond is bringing his Animation Show of Shows cross country throughout October and November. This looks to be a great opportunity to see shorts using many different animation styles from a number of countries. Diamond has a knack for picking out great shorts; many shorts from previous shows have gone on to be nominated for the Academy Award Best Animated Short Film, with a number of them winning the award.

The list of films include:
  • Ascension - Colin Laubry, Thomas Bourdis, Martin de Coudenhove, Caroline Domergue, Florian Laubry, France
  • The Ballad of Holland Island House - Lynn Tomlinson, USA
  • Behind the Trees - Amanda Palmer & Avi Ofer, USA
  • Love in the Time of March Madness - Melissa Johnson, and Robertino Zambrano, USA
  • Messages Dans L’Air - Isabel Favez, France/Switzerland
  • Snowfall - Conor Whelan, Ireland
  • The Story of Percival Pilts - Janette Goodey & John Lewis, Australia, NZ
  • Stripy - Babak Nekooei & Behnoud Nekooei, Iran
  • Tant de Forets - Geoffrey Godet & Burcu Sankur, France
  • We Can't Live Without Cosmos - Konstantin Bronzit, Russia
  • World of Tomorrow - Don Hertzfeldt, USA
 Here is the trailer for the show:

The tour will visit approximately 2 dozen theaters during its run, with Ron Diamond attending a number of them. Additional screenings may be added so keep an eye on their website or Facebook page! If you're lucky enough to attend, I'd love to hear what you thought of the films!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Good Dinosaur Giveaway! UPDATED With Winner!

The excitement for The Good Dinosaur is really starting to build! A couple weeks ago was the bloggers press event, and last week Pixar released a new trailer for the film. We're only a little more than a month away from its theatrical release!

I was very fortunate to go to the Pixar studio last month. It had nothing to do with The Good Dinosaur press event; rather it was due to the amazing thoughtfulness of my friends Santi and Laura, and the generosity of Pixar Supervising Animator Victor Navone and his wonderful wife Candy. I had a great time, and was able to meet some Pixar legends like Ralph Eggleston and Bob Peterson.

While there, we of course had to stop at the Pixar Studio Store. At that time they didn't have much Good Dino merchandise, but they did have some cool t-shirts and I picked up a few. So with the film just a few weeks away, I thought it would be fun to give one away in a Good Dino giveaway!

This is a women's medium Arlo tee. It a soft tee with the film's protagonist on the front. The word "Pixar" is on the left sleeve, and on the back is the film's title. I just love the minimal, clean design. What a great way to show your Pixar spirit at The Good Dinosaur theatrical release!

So how do you win this Pixar Studio Store shirt? Hopefully it's not too tough, just fill out the form below and hit submit! There are a couple of rules. To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and live in the 48 contiguous United States. If you are under 18, you can have a parent enter. Only one entry per person - multiple submissions will be ignored. No purchase necessary to enter. The giveaway starts NOW and will end Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 11:59pm Central Time. One random winner will be chosen and contacted via the email address used to enter the contest. Once the winner claims their prize, I will announce it here in this post and on Twitter. Good luck!

UPDATE (October 18, 2015)
Congratulations to Jenny Y. on winning the contest!

As part of the contest I asked, "Which upcoming Pixar film are you most excited for". Perhaps not surprising, The Good Dinosaur was the overwhelming favorite, taking in over 55%. Next was very close with The Incredibles 2 coming in at 18% and Finding Dory at 16%. Coco only received 9% of the votes, which surprised me.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thoughts on Pete Docter's Talk at Westminster Town Hall Forum

Westminster Presbyterian Church was a beautiful setting for the talk

As I wrote earlier, Pete Docter came to the Twin Cities earlier this week to give a talk at the Westminster Town Hall Forum. You can find Pete's talk on Minnesota Public Radio. so I'm not going to give a full write-up of the talk, instead I wanted to just write about a few of the highlights for me from the evening.

In true Pixar form, the night started with a short film. Pete showed Winter, one of his student films while he was at CalArts. It can also be found on the Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2.

After the short, Pete got into the main part of his presentation. While speaking, he showed clips of Pixar films to help get his points and ideas across. He talked about how Pixar was originally a computer hardware manufacturer, and that the first time he met CEO Steve Jobs was when Steve came to lay off half the staff. He then began talking about Pixar's feature films and directing his first film, Monsters, Inc. While he thought the original premise (monsters scare because it's their jobs) was great, it just wasn't working. He said it wasn't until after he and his wife had their daughter Elie and he began to struggle with spending time both at home and work that he realized Sulley's conflict between loving his job and Boo should be the key premise of the film.

He then talked about Up and how it began as a floating city with 2 princes. Again, the film went through major changes as he realized what he liked about the story was the idea of escaping the real world.

After a description of film development process at Pixar he went into a great discussion on the development of Inside Out. He discussed how they came up with the 5 emotions, their voice actors, and each emotion's trigger (Fear - uncertainty, Anger - injustice, Disgust - purity, Sadness - loss, Joy - benefit, gain). He said that over 177,000 storyboards were created for the film. (I think Monsters University still holds the record for largest number of storyboards with 227,000). He went into how story reels are created and how much time the process takes - for an average film with 27 sequences, each sequence takes 3-5 sessions, each of which take 3-4 hours.  They will do this 7 or 8 times throughout the development of the film. He also said making mistakes is an essential part of the process, as they know they'll get things wrong. He said they know if they don't schedule the time to be wrong they'll quit trying new things.

This and the next picture taken by
Pete's high school music teacher!
A few other interesting comments Pete made, most of which came during the Q&A portion of the event:
  • When asked which Pixar character was most "Pete Docter-esque", he said Kevin from Up. He then proceeded to do the voice of Kevin (he also did the voice for the film).
  • Some of his favorite movies include Wizard of Oz, Dumbo and Paper Moon.
  • His favorite cartoon character was Bugs Bunny.
  • He mentioned a couple of teachers in particular that were influential to him, his 4th grade and 12th grade writing teachers. Both were in the audience and received large applause.
  • Speaking of applause, if you listen to his talk on MPR, let me say that the applause Pete received, both at the beginning and end of his talk, went on much longer than what's recorded!
He ended the formal part of his presentation answering the question why he makes films. Pete said movies are an art form, and all art is about storytelling. He stated "...art is as essential to our existence as breathing and eating." By telling stories about our life experiences, it can bring us closer to each other.

These are awesome and powerful words. I think our world needs these words, and I'm so glad Pete Docter and the folks at Pixar make the films they do.

During Pete's talk he spoke of the importance of collaboration, and the sense of community in Minnesota, which I think was very present during the event. Afterwards as people waited in line to meet Pete, there was an energy as people mingled and talked. There was a wide range of people, from parents with children, high school and college students, and older adults. I spoke with a few students who were animators or wanted to become filmmakers and work at Pixar, and spent quite a bit of time talking to 2 of his music teachers from when Pete was in elementary and high school (the pictures of Pete and myself were taken by his high school music teacher). In a way, those of us at the talk were doing what Pete does when he makes films - telling stories and getting closer to each other.