Sunday, November 4, 2007

FESTIVAL: Thursday, November 1st 2007

The first day of the festival was entirely dedicated to an invitation schools event, where local young students were given a showing of previous award-winning student films at the festival and then shown some of the 'principles of animation' demonstrated by myself and professional animator, Linda Spain. The ulterior motive was to prepare them well for our “Flipbook Competition," where school students of all ages are invited to create a "flipbook" of their own by December and submit it to us for consideration. The best flipbooks we view at the lower, middle and high school level will win one of my signed books on animation, plus a copy of The Animaticus Foundation “Showreel and Archive Reel” DVDs. The winners will be announced on the Animaticus website ( in January when we will screen the winning flipbooks for all to see.

The second part of this event was the presentation of the programs offered by VanArts in Vancouver, CA ( and the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA ( The first presentation was given by VanArt's Ken Priebe (see his log from the festival at and the second by myself for DigiPen.

I explained how DigiPen was probably the "best animation school in the country" right now… except that "the country doesn’t actually know it yet!" (As we currently don’t have any graduates to boast of!) The reason for this that the four-year, BFA course in Animation Production is a new course and therefore its first generation of graduates will not occur till the end of the spring term 2008, However, to back-up my assertion I screened a PowerPoint presentation of Freshman/Sophomore traditional artwork (drawing/painting/character design/digital art) which seemed to blow everyone away with its quality.

(Indeed, two weeks earlier we had shown the work to visiting guest, Jeffrey Smith, from the Art Center in California, and was significantly impressed with the quality of the work our animation students were producing in comparison to his own traditional art students.

The DigiPen philosophy is to teach student to be "traditionally-trained" artists first and foremost, then we build the animation skills onto this classic-based foundation afterwards. (The philosophy that anyone can learn to push buttons on a computer no-one will make the technology work to its uppermost potential unless it is being used by a true artist!) Students at DigiPen are immersed in the classical knowledge of "anatomy", "life drawing," "color theory" and "perspective" in their first formative years at DigiPen... as well as being introduced to intensive courses in "2D animation" and be expected to produce 50 pages of sketchbook work each week ON TOP of all their class homework assignments! In fact, DigiPen students don’t touch a computer in the entire first year, except to log-on for their grades and assignment work.

After the PowerPoint show I screened an edited selection of the animation work of the same students… which led one prospective students to tell me after the event that he was now too intimidated to apply because of the 'fantastic' standards the student work was showing. I reminded him that each and every one of the students whose work he had seen would have felt the same before entering the school, as none of them has any significant art skills at that time! (They had to be taught these by the fantastic faculty that DigiPen has within its program.) I also suggested that he shouldn’t be in fear of ‘greatness’ because if he was he will never be ‘great!’

The final thing I left all the school students with was the advice that whatever school they were considering for their future education, they should not respect ‘reputations’ regarding a school’s name for example, but look at the faculty that the school has at its disposal and how accomplished these faculty are professionally in the disciplines they are teaching students about.(I.e. All schools are only as good as their faculty!) I am therefore very proud to be "Chair of the Art and Animation Department" at DigiPen.


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