Over the weekend, my nephews and niece were watching The Iron Giant, that wonderful 1999 animated feature megged by Brad Bird, the same genius behind The Incredibles. The film, about the special friendship between a young boy and a robot from outer space, is one of those rare films that got me crying. If I had been watching it alone, I would have bawled my eyes out.
What made The Iron Giant unique, at least to me, is how the animators were able to make the giant robot express a wide range of emotions despite its lack of malleable facial features, by taking advantage of camera angles and the flexibility of the "lids" of the robot's eyes. I think the greatest challenge of any animator would be imbuing inanimate objects with human emotion, much like what Pixar did with Luxo, the now famous desklamp.
Last week, I attended a symposium at La Salle Greenhills, “Story Development in Animated Film Making: The U.S.-Pixar Model and New Entry Points for Philippine Players in the Global Entertainment Industry." I was invited by the nice folks of animation studio ArtFarm Asia. The guest speaker was Ronnie del Carmen, a Filipino who had left the Philippines 17 years ago, and is currently Pixar's Head of Story whose resume includes Finding Nemo, Road to El Dorado and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
Apart from sharing his experiences in the American animation industry, del Carmen showed us his animatics presentation of one of the key scenes in Finding Nemo (overlayed with the sound bed of voice and music), as well as a video of screenwriter Andrew Stanton making his pitch for the same film. He also shared with us a personal project of his called Ulan, a short animatic based on one of his experiences as a child growing up in Cavite (or was in Laguna).
The symposium could have been a lot more, but the time was limited. It succeeded in bringing together key people from the public and private sectors to create a jump-off point for a more direct exploration of possibilities for the local animation industry. The Philippines has been a lauded supplier of animation services for over two decades, and yet lags in original content. Creating a full-length animated feature of worth is far more expensive than making a live-action movie, so ROI-conscious investors have been very cautious about placing money in cartoons.
But, like those great folks making their own comics, there are passionate animators who still work on their craft despite the lack of money and support. It's only a matter of time before these thespians wow us with their own brand of magic, and shine.
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Congratulations to Tanghalang Pilipino! Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal has been nominated for Best Musical Production in the 19th Aliw Awards. Also receiving noms are Tuxqs Rutaquio for Best Stage Actor (Musical) and Eula Valdez for Best Stage Actress (Musical). Sana manalo kayong lahat! :-)
The Aliw Awards is an annual event which honors achievements in live performances. The ceremony will take place on August 31, Thursday at the Manila Hotel.
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If you know anyone proficient in Flash animation and ActionScript and is willing to work in Dubai, the company my brother works for is in need of more staff for game development. You can email him for more details through firstname.lastname@example.org.