SPARK ANIMATION '12
Celebrating Art & Innovation
September 12 – 16, 2012
SPARK Animation is back! And it is better than ever! We've got a stellar lineup of conference speakers including opening keynote speaker Hal Hickel and closing keynote speaker Joe Letteri. In-between we've got an amazing list of talented presenters from DreamWorks Animation, ILM, Sony Pictures Imageworks, LAIKA, New Deal Studio, Blue Sky Studio, and The Jim Henson Company.
We're launching the festival with a special opening night film Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible. Other fabulous films include the North American premiere of Pablo, the Canadian premiere of Toys in the Attic, and the British Columbia premieres of The Nature of Frédéric Back, A Cat in Paris, and A Letter to Momo.
We're busy finalizing everything so check this website regularly for all festival and conference updates!
We look forward to seeing you again at SPARK Animation '12!
PANELS & PRESENTATIONS
Friday · September 14, 9:00 AM
Animation at Industrial Light & Magic
with Hal Hickel
From his humble beginnings in stop-motion, to work on the Star Wars prequels, and Oscar-winning involvement on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Rango, Animation Director Hal Hickel has built up quite the list of accolades. Join us as Hal discusses ILM's character animation work and their successful foray into the world of fully-animated films.
Friday · September 14, 11:00 AM
Checking Into Hotel Transylvania
with Michelle Murdocca, Sebastian "Sacha" Kapijimpanga, Kevin Webb & Jeff Panko
Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula's lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without human interference. For one special weekend, Dracula invites some of his best friends — Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more — to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis's 118th birthday. In this session, the creative team behind Hotel Transylvania explore the dazzling art, unique animation style, and technical achievements of Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming monster comedy invading theatres September 28th. Audience members will be treated to an advance look at the film from Producer Michelle Murdocca and Vancouver-based Animation Leads Sebastian "Sacha" Kapijimpanga, Kevin Webb and Jeff Panko.
Friday · September 14, 1:00 PM
The Handcrafted Visual Effects of ParaNorman
with Brian Van't Hul
LAIKA has carved out a place in movie making history with their unique aesthetic. Within a short period, they have created a body of work that has elevated stop-motion to the next level. By creating and integrating 3D print technology with handcrafted movements and incorporating the latest computer graphics into the production process, LAIKA has once again pushed the creative envelope with their latest feature ParaNorman, a visually stunning zombie flick. Get a first-hand look into the world of ParaNorman with Academy Award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor Brian Van't Hul, as he reveals how LAIKA created this spectacular masterpiece using the most advanced CG techniques to support one of the oldest forms of animation.
Friday · September 14, 3:00 PM
Ice Age: Continental Drift — The Challenge & Opportunity of Directing a Sequel
with Steve Martino
Steve Martino will share the journey of making of Ice Age: Continental Drift from the perspective as one of the directors on the film. In particular, he will provide some insight into what it's like to lead a large team of artists (cast & crew) and the challenge of continuing a successful franchise for a major studio.
Friday · September 14, 5:00 PM
Rise of the Guardians: Reinventing Childhood Icons
with Gabe Hordos
Rise of the Guardians is DreamWorks Animation's 25th feature animated film. Based of a series of children's books by William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians unveils the extrodinary roles of the immortal Guardians of our childhood: Jack Frost, Santa, the Easter bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman, who must come together to protect the children of the world from an evil spirit known as Pitch. Gabe Hordos, Head of Character Animation, will discuss how his team of animators, redefined the very structure upon which these sacred characters were made. From an assortment of animation tests compiled before the film went into production, audiences will witness the creative exploration and re-discovery of these familair childhood icons. Explore the complexity, diversity and range of animated performances and get an insight as to how and why these characters are so consistent and full of such depth and charm.
Saturday · September 15, 9:00 AM
The Art & Science behind Walt Disney Animation Studios' Paperman
with Brian Whited
Applying a technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director, John Kahrs, takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with Paperman. Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short film follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. In this presentation, Brian Whited, developer of the final-line software at Walt Disney Animation Studios for Paperman, will share his insights about the art, design, and technology of this innovative project.
Saturday · September 15, 11:00 AM
Madagascar 3: Character Development from Script to Screen
with Rex Grignon
Finding a character for feature animation presents many challenges. In the world of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the latest film in the Madagascar series, audiences world-wide have come to love our familiar "Zoosters": Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, and Marty the Zebra... but what goes into the process of defining new characters to fit within this wacky world? Rex Grignon, Head of Character Animation on Madagascar 3, will discuss the process of character development, from script to screen. Explore character designs, visual development, modeling tests, and early animation tests used to craft and shape the final character performances that make it to the big screen.
Saturday · September 15, 1:00 PM
Developing Shows for TV & Eventually Even Getting Them Made
with Craig Bartlett
You have passion, creativity, drive, and a great idea for a groundbreaking new TV show. Great! Now what? Taking an idea from concept to realization, and pitching it effectively, is an art; one that Craig Bartlett knows well. Craig began his impressive career animating the well-known Penny cartoons for Pee-wee's Playhouse. After working on the popular children's show, Rugrats, he went on to successfully pitch Hey Arnold! to Nickelodeon — a series that received popular and critical acclaim and aired from 1996 to 2004. Over the course of his career, Bartlett moved to The Jim Henson Company where he developed various pilots and feature scripts. In 2008, his pre-schooler show Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train was picked up by PBS Kids and airs daily in various countries around the world.
Learn from one of animation's most successful producers, as he walks us through the process, production and challenges of getting animated series such as Hey Arnold! and DinosaurTrainproduced. If we're lucky Penny, of Penny cartoon fame, may even make an appearance.
Saturday · September 15, 3:00 PM
Hugo: Miniatures Complete the Effect
with Matthew Gratzner
For Hugo, New Deal Studios' visual effects supervisor, Matthew Gratzner once again partnered with visual effects supervisor, Rob Legato, in service of director Martin Scorsese's cinematic vision. Other collaborations include Aviator and Shutter Island. Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo is Scorsese's first family adventure film. One of the centerpieces of the action in Hugo is a recreation of the famous 1895 train derailment at Paris' Montparnasse station. Using reference photos from 1895, NDS created models of the train and the train station in digital form and used practical mechanical effects to engineer the immensely complex crash. The station exterior also included perfectly scaled set dressing created by NDS artists to enhance the environment including a newsstand dressed with dozens of miniature magazines from the era. Station details were hand sculpted matching the intricacy of the Montparnasse station's façade. The centerpiece of the crash, the quarter-scale train was created to mirror the 1895 steam locomotive with pipe-work, rivets and iron plating. Gratzner will discuss the workflow used in creating images using practical and digital effects together.
Saturday · September 15, 5:00 PM
Virtual Production: Combining Animation, Visual Effects & Live-Action Filmmaking
with Joe Letteri
Four-time Oscar-winning Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Joe Letteri, presents Weta Digital's pioneering virtual-production work on The Adventures of Tintin and Avatar. His talk also addresses workflow development at Weta going all the way back to The Lord of the Rings and suggests some areas of future development. Weta sees virtual production as a connected, holistic approach to filmmaking that melds the best of animation and live-action techniques in pre-production, onset and post. This presentation demonstrates how virtual production brings all of the components of filmmaking together to provide a way of working that has attracted directors like Peter Jackson, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
Wednesday · September 12, 7:00 PM
Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible
2010 // USA // Dir.: Leslie Iwerks // 60 min.
Introduction by Leslie Iwerks
The industry's leading visual effects house, Industrial Light & Magic, has created some of the most iconic imagery that cinema-going audiences have ever seen. For the past 35 years, their pioneering and breathtaking visual effects have transformed the way we see movies.
The digital era that dominates modern day visual effects was ushered in by ILM, and through the years ILM has given filmmakers the means to achieve anything. Photorealistic characters and fantastic worlds can be created from scratch, such as on Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man and Avatar. But these high-tech advancements have not come easy, nor have they come overnight.
This is the entertaining and illuminating story of the visual effects house that revolutionized Hollywood. From their earliest days creating the special effects for Star Wars, up to today, director Leslie Iwerks takes audiences on a journey inside the walls and through the years of Industrial Light & Magic, where creating the impossible remains a daily operation. Through the eyes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Jon Favreau, Robin Williams, and ILM's top visual effects supervisors and artists, among many others, we see how ILM continues to bring cinema's impossible ideas to fruition.
Wednesday · September 12, 9:15 PM
2011 // USA // Dir.: Gore Verbinski // 107 min.
Rango is not from around these parts. In fact that's not even his name (he doesn't have one), just an alias he picks to impress the locals. He's a tenderfoot from the East, dropped into the desert in a freak road accident. Being a chameleon, naturally he suffers from an identity crisis, low-self-esteem, and a penchant for amateur dramatics — a theatrical bent he has exploited in the past to ward off loneliness.
Finding himself labeled a freak among the cowpokes, he assimilates in a hurry, taking on the character of a tough gunfighter, legendary for having killed the Jenkins brothers — all seven of them — with one bullet. Rango is handed the sheriff's badge by the mayor, a giant turtle (voiced by Ned Beatty). But even the newly empowered and (over-) confident chameleon will have his work cut out for him getting to the bottom of the town's water shortage.
Directed by a filmmaker who has previously worked in live action — on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, among others — this benefits from his attention to the visual atmosphere of the piece. Verbinski brought on True Grit DP Roger Deakins as a visual consultant, and it shows. John Logan's script cheerfully rips off Robert Towne's classic Chinatown. (There's also cheeky homage to Depp's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, which isn't something you expect to find in family entertainment). That sense of mischief, dynamic action scenes and the plethora of clever touches — the animals ride on roadrunners instead of horses — combine to make Rango a winner.
Thursday · September 13, 7:00 PM
2012 // USA // Dir.: Richard Goldgewicht // 90 min.
Introduction by Mark Busse
Pablo is a documentary film that blends animation, motion graphics and film clips to tell the story of visual artist and designer, Pablo Ferro.
Narrated by Jeff Bridges, Pablo features interviews with Angelica Huston, Andy Garcia, Stan Lee, Jon Voight, Norman Jewison, Jonathan Demme, George Segal, Leonard Maltin and others who try pinning down Pablo's elusive and ever- changing chameleonic persona. In his own words, Pablo describes his "roller coaster life" -- from the fields of Cuba to New York's Hell's Kitchen, from young poor immigrant to hot Madison Avenue commercial director, and from one of the most innovative multi-media artists to the wrong end of a gun. Pablo is able to put his life back together to become one of the most recognized names in cinema title art and design.
The film centers around Pablo's influence as a counter cultural artist of the sixties and around the legacy this visual artist has created for contemporary audiences.
Thursday · September 13, 9:15 PM
Toys in the Attic
2009 // Czech Republic // Dir.: Jirí Barta // 74 min.
Set in a magical world of toys and knick-knacks stored in the attic of a home in Prague, this award-winning stop-motion animated feature has been called "An animation masterpiece" (Anima Basuari), and "a diabolically inventive tale that is four parts Toy Story and one part Tim Burton" (New York International Children's Film Festival).
The setting for the film was inspired by the cultural and political contrast of the Cold War era and its impact on director Jiri Barta and the Czech Republic. The world of the attic is divided into the land of happy toys in the West and the Land of Evil in the East. The despotic Head of State rules over the Land of Evil with a band of sinister minions, insects and rotted vegetables. When the lovely Buttercup (Vivian Schilling) is kidnapped and held prisoner by The Head (Jiri Labus, with voice by Douglas Urbanski), it is up to her friends - a teddy bear (Forest Whitaker), a mechanical mouse (Joan Cusack) and marionette puppet (Cary Elwes) to cross the international boundary and attempt their daring rescue.
"Toys in the Attic" is a meticulously crafted visual feast, combining multiple forms of animation into an enchanting and fantastic adventure for the entire family.
Friday - September 14, 7:30 PM
A Cat in Paris
2010 // France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium // Dir.: J.-L. Felicioli, A. Gagnol // 70 min.
French with English subtitles
Introduction by Moïra Marguin & Cécile Blondel
SPECIAL SHORT PROGRAM BY LES GOBELINS
Best known for its award-winning student films that have won many international prizes, Gobelins, l'école de l'image, is a Paris-based applied arts, print and digital media school with a world-wide reputation for excellence. Join Moïra Marguin, Head of the Animation Department, and Cécile Blondel, International Relations Manager, as they present a short program of recently completed student shorts before the animated feature A Cat in Paris.
A CAT IN PARIS
A Cat in Paris is a gorgeous hand-drawn animated feature from France that has already been honoured with Best Animated Feature nominations by the Academy Awards, Annie Awards, César Awards, and the European Film Awards. A Cat in Paris follows the life of a wily black cat named Dino, who leads a double life. By day, he lives with seven-year-old Zoe, the mute daughter of an overextended widowed police commissioner named Jeanne. Zoe hasn't spoken since her father was murdered by gang boss Victor Costa. By night, Dino sneaks out to become the slinky sidekick of a nimble jewel thief with a big heart named Nico. One night, Zoe follows Dino on one of his nocturnal adventures and stumbles on Costa's plot to steal a priceless art treasure known as the Colossus of Nairobi.
Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, this animated gem is gorgeously illustrated in a distinctly French style that recalls the works of Matisse and Picasso of the 30's. It's filled with a jazzy soundtrack featuring Billy Holiday and full of film references that pays homage to classic noir and American gangster films. A Cat in Paris is a charming animated feature that is one of the don't-miss animated films of the year.
Friday · September 14, 9:30 PM
The Nature of Frédéric Back
Introduction by Keith Blackmore
The Nature of Frédéric Back draws a masterful portrait of an exceptional man. A visual artist and animation filmmaker, he has produced an immense body of work that imparts an essential message. With their luminous poetry, their freshness and emotion, his films are both universal and timeless.
In striving to depict the beauty of the earth, Frédéric Back was one of the first, and most persuasive, environmental activists. This documentary follows his outstanding accomplishments, tracing the sources of his inspiration, from his early childhood and youth in Alsace, Paris and Brittany, to the beginning of his career and the love and life he found in Québec.
The two-time Oscar winner for Crac! and The Man Who Planted Trees has now reached a wise old age but lost none of his passion, or the wonder or outrage that have always moved him. Frédéric Back is, and remains, a model for us all.
Saturday · September 15, 7:00 PM
SIGGRAPH 2012: Electronic Theater
Introduction by Kat Elliott
Come experience the latest advancements in computer graphics and the world's best animation and visual effects in this year's Electronic Theater showcased at the SIGGRAPH 2012 Computer Animation Festival. SPARK is proud to present this special program of "the best of the best," with a diverse selection of animation from individual artists, animated commercials, cinematics, and excerpts from visual effects feature films.
Sunday · September 16, 6:30 PM
A Letter to Momo
2012 // Japan // Dir.: Hiroyuki Okiura // 120 min.
Japanese with English subtitles
A Letter to Momo is a beautiful hand-drawn film that offers a sensitive portrait of a young child in distress. Shortly after the premature loss of her father, Momo, an eleven-year-old girl from the big city moves with her mother to an old family house on a remote island. Filled with guilt over her final stormy exchange with her dad before his death, all she has left to remember him by is an unfinished letter with two words "Dear Momo". What did her dad want to tell her? One day Momo discovers a trio of mischievous imps and embarks on a strange and supernatural adventure. Along the way, she discovers these funny creatures may hold the key to helping her understand her father's message to her. Directed, written, and produced by anime giant Hiroyuki Okiura (director of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade), A Letter to Momo is his highly anticipated second directorial effort. Filled with beautifully animated characters and gorgeous backgrounds, Okiura has created a masterpiece that is being compared to another animated classic, My Neighbour Totoro.
Sunday · September 16, 9:00 PM
Crulic: The Path to Beyond
The animated documentary feature-length Crulic: The Path to Beyond tells the life's story of Crulic, the 33 years old Romanian who died in a Polish prison while making hunger strike. The acclaimed Romanian actor, Vlad Ivanov, narrates Crulic's ironic voice over from beyond the grave. A strong visual style, the result of beautiful hand drawn, collage, stop-motion and cut-cut animation techniques, blend to create a striking, surprisingly integrated and memorable film.
Brian Van't Hul
VFX Supervisor · LAIKA
(ParaNorman, Coraline, The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
Supervisor of Visual Effects for LAIKA's 2009 Award-winning Coraline, BRIAN VAN'T HUL's visual effects acumen has been applied to such prominent films as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Forrest Gump, Disclosure, Contact, all three Lord of the Rings films, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I Robot, The Legend of Zorro and King Kong - for which he won a BAFTA Film Award (Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects) and an Oscar® (Best Achievement in Visual Effects). A graduate of Montana State University's Film, Television and Photography Department, Brian has applied his diverse passions for cinematography, art, engineering and story-telling to a variety of film industry projects including miniature, live action and digital lighting, visual effects supervising, location plate photography and second unit directing.
Senior Software Engineer · Walt Disney Animation Studios
Brian Whited is a Senior Software Engineer in the Animation Technology group at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Brian earned a PhD in Computer Science, specializing in Computer Graphics, from Georgia Tech in 2009. His background and research includes work in computational geometry, shape analysis, animation and modeling, with a particular interest in sketch-based interfaces and developing technology to enhance traditional hand-drawn animation. He has authored 8 patents as well as 14 peer-reviewed works in collaborations with Disney, Georgia Tech, Emory and Siemens. During his time at WDAS, Brian's primary focus has been creating Meander — a hybrid vector/raster-based drawing and animation system. Using Meander as a base, Brian developed interactive technologies that enabled artists to craft the painterly style of Paperman.
International Relations Manager · Gobelins, Ecole de l'Image
Since February 2012, Cécile Blondel has held the role of International Relations Manager for Gobelins, Ecole de l'Image, an internationally renowned animation school.
Having trained in Political Sciences and Change Management, Ms. Blondel began her career as a History Teacher and Associate Researcher for the National Foundation of Political Sciences in Paris. She went on to become a Lecturer in French Studies for the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and a Lecturer in French and European Affairs for the British Foreign Office, London. In 2006, she took on the role of International Relations Manager (UK and Ireland) for Sciences Po in Paris and in 2010 she joined the HEC Paris Executive Education team as Assistant Director for International Programs, before joining the Gobelins team in 2012.
Writer, Producer & Designer
(Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Dinosaur Train)
Craig Bartlett was born in Seattle and educated in the Pacific Northwest, studying fine art in Portland and animation at the Evergreen State College. He found his first animating job at Will Vinton's studio in Portland, where he learned the art of stop-motion animation. In 1987, work on the "Penny" Cartoons for Pee Wee's Playhouse led him to move to Los Angeles. He stayed for 24 years and counting, creating the cartoon series Hey Arnold! for Nickelodeon and Dinosaur Train for PBS. Craig lives with his wife Lisa in Glendale.
Head of Character Animation · Dreamworks Animation
(Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Rise of the Guardians)
Gabe Hordos is concluding his role as Head of Character Animation on DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians, which is scheduled for release on November 21, 2012. The film is an epic adventure in which classic childhood heroes are re-imagined and united for the first time ever to battle forces of evil and protect children of the world.
Prior to his role on Rise of the Guardians, Gabe served as the Supervising Animator of "Toothless" on DWA's How to Train Your Dragon. His work was recognized with an Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production and also with a VES Award for Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture.
Additional credits at the studio include: Kung Fu Panda, Bee Movie, Flushed Away (for which he won an Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production), Shark Tale, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.
Gabe is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada.
Animation Supervisor · Industrial Light & Magic
(Rango, Iron Man, The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy)
Hal Hickel joined Industrial Light & Magic in 1996 as an animator for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. On his next production, he was promoted to lead animator and given responsibility for the animation of several characters in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. In 2000, Hickel was moved up to animation supervisor, teaming up with multi-Academy Award winning visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren on Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. His special interest in animation lies in the challenge of integrating fantastic characters and creatures into live-action films. Hickel has since supervised the animation work on Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, Lawrence Kasdan's Dreamcatcher and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. In 2007, his work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was recognized with both an Academy Award® for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects and the BAFTA for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
More recently he was the Animation Director on ILM's first animated feature, Rango, and was Creature Animation Supervisor on JJ Abram's Super 8. He is currently working on Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi epic, Pacific Rim.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Hickel studied Film Graphics at California Institute of the Art before being hired by Will Vinton Studios as a clay animator and motion control operator for commercials and television specials featuring the California Raisins, amongst other characters. Hickel left Vinton in 1994 to join Pixar as an animator on their first animated feature, Toy Story. Upon completing Toy Story, Hickel was hired at ILM.
Lead Animator · Sony Pictures Animation
(Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 9, Ryan)
Jeff Panko is a Lead Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks where he recently completed work on Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming animated monster comedy Hotel Transylvania, coming to theaters on September 28th.
While at Imageworks, Panko served as a Lead Animator on The Smurfs, and was an Animator on Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. He is currently a Lead Animator for Sony Pictures Imageworks The Smurf's 2 released in 2013.
Prior to joining Imageworks, Panko worked for Starz Animationas an Animator on Gnomeo and Juliet, and 9. At IDT Entertainment, Panko animated on Everyone's Hero.
Panko previously worked at DKP studio; his animation credits include the short film Surly Squirrel, the MTV Movie Awards, and the Game Over television series. He began his career animating on Ryan, the 2004 Academy Award winning animated short film.
Panko graduated from Sheridan College in 2001 with a diploma in classical animation and furthered his education at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in 2002 with a diploma in Computer Animation.
Panko is a native of Canada.
Senior VFX Supervisor · Weta Digital
(The Adventures of Tintin, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Avatar, King Kong)
Joe Letteri's pioneering work on digital visual effects has earned him four Academy Awards® for Best Visual Effects on Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong. He has also received the Academy's Technical Achievement Award for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that brought Gollum to life.
Joe joined Weta Digital as Visual Effects Supervisor on The Two Towers and over the last eleven years he has led Weta Digital to become one of the worlds premiere visual effects studios.
Joe has developed many techniques that have become standards for bringing photographic quality to digital visual effects. He specializes in the creation of compellingly realistic creatures, from the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the 25ft gorilla in King Kong, the Na'vi in Avatar, and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
As Senior Visual Effects Supervisor on Avatar, Joe oversaw a programme of research and development over four years that produced shots larger and more complex than ever attempted before. This involved shooting on a virtual stage with a new camera system, along with the development a full pipeline of tools effectively launching a new approach to filmmaking called virtual production.
Joe recently completed The Adventures of Tintin and Rise of the Planet of the Apes for which he was nominated for a Visual Effects Academy Award. He is currently working on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Digital Coordinator · Digital Domain
Kat Elliott has an uncanny ability to suspend her disbelief. As she grew, this ability was channeled towards film. From a young age, she knew she wanted to combine her love of computers and art. Then came college... and more college. She received her MFA in Dramatic Media from The University of Georgia, concentrating on 3D Modeling, Animation, and Film Studies. As all good adventurers do, she headed out West after graduation with dreams of Hollywood. Kat is currently a Digital Coordinator at Digital Domain. Past projects include TRON: Legacy, Thor, and Coachella's Tupac 'hologram'. Kat first got involved in SIGGRAPH as a Student Volunteer and has since moved through the ranks, spending several years as the Assistant Producer then Producer of SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival. Kat can still suspend her disbelief, despite knowing all the magic behind the moving images. It's still uncanny.
Educator & Historian
A former teacher in public speaking, Keith Blackmore has been a passionate teacher of animation film studies at Vancouver Film School since 1995. Utilizing films from his extensive personal collection, Keith's classes are famously entertaining and educational. He has also taught Animation History at ECUAD and VanArts, and has been a guest lecturer at festivals and studios around Vancouver. In addition to teaching, he works as a documentary film maker. Currently he is working on a documentary about conscience objectors interned in Canada during WWII.
Lead Animator · Sony Pictures Animation
(Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs, The League of Super Evil)
Kevin Webb is a Lead Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks where he recently completed work on Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming animated monster comedy Hotel Transylvania, coming to theaters on September 28.
While at Imageworks, Webb worked as an animator on the worldwide box office sensation The Smurfs and is now currently animating on Sam Raimi's next film, Oz, the Great & Powerful.
Prior to joining Imageworks, Webb was an Animation Supervisor for Nerd Corps on such shows as The League of Super Evil and Storm Hawks. He also briefly taught animation at the Centre for Arts & Technology in Kelowna.
Kevin was born and raised in Vancouver, and he studied animation at the Art Institute of Vancouver.
Director & Producer · Leslie Iwerks Productions
Leslie Iwerks is an Oscar® and Emmy® nominated documentary director and producer. She has created numerous award-winning feature and short length documentaries spanning the last two decades; films chronicling pioneering companies such as Pixar Animation Studios, George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic, the Hearst Media Empire, to environmental and social issue documentaries that have raised international awareness and millions of dollars towards their various causes. Leslie is the grand-daughter of Oscar-winning Disney animation legend and designer of Mickey Mouse, Ub Iwerks, the subject of her 1999 documentary, The Hand Behind the Mouse.
Managing Director · Industrial Brand
Busse is founding partner and managing director at Industrial Brand in Vancouver, BC where for the last 15 years he has successfully led clients to their business objectives through brand strategy, identity, communication and interactive design solutions. He invests time in his creative community as a teacher, advisor, mentor for design programs at VFS, Capilano & Langara and hosts creative events Likemind Vancouver, Interesting Vancouver and CreativeMornings/Vancouver. Busse is also a past president and executive board member of the BC chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada and author of "Design School Didn't Tell You..." column on DesignEdgeCanada.com. Busse is also a passionate cook and food fanatic and co-founder of the popular culinary blog, Foodists.ca. He lives with his wife Andrea in the Commercial Drive area of East Vancouver.
Co-Founder, VFX Supervisor, Producer & Director · New Deal Studios
Matthew Gratzner is a co-founder and creative director at New Deal Studios. As a visual effects supervisor, Gratzner has been honoured with nominations from the BAFTA and The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2008, he was honoured with a Visual Effects Society Award, a Clio Award and a Golden Lion Award from the Cannes Advertising Festival for his creation of the Halo 3: Believe campaign. Directors often call upon Matthew early in the production process as a creative consultant. Gratzner has a long-running relationship with Martin Scorsese's and his creative team creating memorable effects in films like: The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island. Gratzner recently completed his latest collaboration with Mr. Scorsese on Hugo recreating the 1895 Gare Montparnasse train crash for the film in stunning miniature. His continued commitment to the filmmaking arts finds him volunteering each year to speak to and mentor students interested in visual effects in the hope of inspiring the next generation of visual artists.
Producer · Sony Pictures Animation
(Hotel Transylvania, Open Season, Stuart Little)
Michelle Murdocca is currently producing Sony Pictures Animation's family comedy Hotel Transylvania, which is scheduled to haunt theatres in September 2012. Murdocca has been with Sony Pictures Animation since its formation in May of 2002, when she served as vice president of production. In that capacity, she was responsible for overseeing all aspects of production and crewing.
She segued into a producer role and served as producer for the company's first feature, Open Season, as well as lending her vocal talents to the film's spunky skunk, Maria. Subsequently, she produced the division's short film, Midnight Bun Run, and executive produced Open Season 2, the direct-to-video sequel to the 2006 hit.
Prior to joining Sony Pictures Animation, Murdocca was a senior visual effects producer for sister company Sony Pictures Imageworks. She joined Imageworks in 1998, where she worked on the Academy Award®-nominated Stuart Little. She then went on to become the associate producer and senior visual effects producer on the sequel, Stuart Little 2 that was honoured with the VES Award (Visual Effects Society) for Best Character Animation in an Animated Film.
Murdocca has over ten years of visual effects production credits. In 1997 she served as a visual effects producer on Wolfgang Peterson's Air Force One. In 1996, Murdocca joined VIFX (now Rhythm & Hues) as an executive producer for digital imaging. She oversaw production on the visual effects of The Relic and Switchback and pre-produced Volcano, Jingle All the Way, and the television miniseries The Shining. During her tenure at Boss Film Studios, Murdocca was instrumental in building their visual effects department from 10 to 100 artists and in the process received digital effects production manager credits on Species, Multiplicity, Outbreak, True Lies, and Drop Zone. She began her career in 1988 at Videocraft Film & Tape in Boston, where she produced commercials, documentaries, industrials and corporate videos.
Originally from New City, New York, Murdocca is a graduate of Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island and holds a degree in Psychology.
Head of the Animation Department · Gobelins, école de l'image
With over 15 years of experience as a filmmaker, project leader and educator, Moïra Marguin currently serves as Head of the Animation department at Gobelins, Ecole de l'Image, one of the most prestigious animation schools in the world. Having begun her career as a CG artist, she worked on independent projects as well as with studios in a project lead capacity. She then went on to teach at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD), Supinfocom, and Walt Disney Feature Animation, in France. In August 2003 she joined the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris as Head of their New Technology Department, before transitioning into her current role in May 2010.
Head of Character Animation · DreamWorks Animation
(Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted, Madagascar: Return 2 Africa, Shrek, Toy Story)
Rex Grignon most recently completed his role on Madagascar 3 as the Head of Character Animation. Rex has served in a similar capacity on the two previous Madagascar films as well. Grignon has been animating for more than 25 years and has lent his talents to such breakthrough computer-animated films as Pixar's Toy Story and DreamWorks Antz, Academy Award® winning Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
Grignon co-founded PDI's Character Animation Group in 1990. As a part of this group, he led in the creation of the Emmy award-winning M&M Mars TV special The Last Halloween, Muppet Vision 3-D, and numerous commercial spots featuring the Pillsbury Doughboy. He left PDI briefly to animate on Pixar's Toy Story but returned as Supervising Animator on PDI/DreamWorks' Antz.
In 1985, Grignon was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to work and study at the New York Institute of Technology's Computer Graphics Laboratory, renowned for its pioneering work in CGI. Prior to being at NYIT, Rex was an alum of Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada, a school well known for matriculating excellent character animators. He has taught character animation classes at various schools and has spoken at the American Film Institute, Stanford University, Sheridan College, Ringling School of Art and Design, The University of Washington, SIGGRAPH and numerous animation festivals around the world. In 2006, Grignon was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Animation Branch.
From 2009-2011, Rex lent his teaching talents to San Jose State University as the Tower Foundation Distinguished Scholar.
Sebastian "Sacha" Kapijimpanga
Lead Character Animator · Sony Pictures Animation
(Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs, Surf's Up, Monster House)
Sebastian Kapijimpanga is a Lead Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks where he recently completed work on Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming animated monster comedy Hotel Transylvania, coming to theatres on September 28th.
Kapijimpanga previously served as Lead Character Animator for The Smurfs as well as G-Force. He Supervised animation on The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol and is currently Supervising animation on Smurfs 2.
Kapijimpanga's other credits at Imageworks include Alice in Wonderland which was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Visual Effects, I Am Legend, Beowulf, Surf's Up, Monster House, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion Witch & the Wardrobe.
Prior to joining Imageworks, Kapijimpanga worked as a Character Animator on Everyone's Hero while at IDT. He was also one of four principal animators on the film Ryan, which won an Academy Award® for Best Animated Short in 2004.
In 2001, Kapijimpanga graduated from "Max the Mutt" Animation School in Toronto, Canada with a diploma in classical animation. He furthered his education by studying 3D digital animation at Seneca College, where he earned a certificate in 2002.
Kapijimpanga is a native of Canada.
Director · Blue Sky Studios
For almost 30 years, Steve Martino has been involved with the design and creation of computer animation — from flying logos to feature films. He recently directed Ice Age: Continental Drift with Mike Thurmeier for 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios. Previously, Steve co-directed the feature film Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! with Jimmy Hayward. He first joined Blue Sky Studios in 2002 as Art Director for the feature film Robots and has contributed his designs to various Blue Sky Studios productions including Ice Age: The Meltdown and the animated short Gone Nutty. Prior to his work on feature films, Steve was a Creative Director at Click 3X LA, Vice President of Creative at 7th Level Studios, and he also helped to start MetroLight Studios where he designed and directed animation for television, interactive media and film. Steve got his start in animation at The Ohio State University's Computer Graphics Research Group where he completed his graduate work in computer animation.
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