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Animated Documentary: Abuelas by Afarin Eghbal (2011)

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I just found the below in my drafts. Started over a month ago, though I sincerely don’t remember what my point behind it was to be. So, I am not going to add anything to that and leave it as it is. Only because the film mentioned there deserves to be mentioned at all. Enjoy its trailer and pray for a chance to see it.

***

In a small apartment in Buenos Aires, an old woman eagerly awaits the birth of her grandchild. However, horrific circumstances mean that she will be forced to wait for over 30 years. 

This short animated documentary was screened as a part of British Showcase at LIAF in the beginning of September 2011. It was made by an Iranian-born director, Afarin Eghbal, who moved to the UK as a baby with her family after the 1979 revolution.

World Premiere of The Flying Machine at Toronto Film Festival

August 17, 2011 2 comments

As announced recently on Polish Film Institute website, The Flying Machine (2011) is going to be premiered at 36th Toronto International Film Festival that takes place next month. 

The Flying Machine is an interesting project undertaken by producers and creators of an Oscar winner, Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton (2006). The film combines 3D stop-motion animation with live action (here they even got a star Heather Graham) and with Fryderyk Chopin music played by famous Chinese pianist, Lang Lang. Apart from Chopin himself, there is of course a huge Polish input in the production – from financial support from Polish Film Institute or Lodz Film Commission to my best liked Polish names, like Marek Skrobecki or Krzysztof Ptak (cinematography).

I am under impression that to find a full list of credits  you would have to check quite a few sources and actually compile it yourself. Or maybe one day Sight and Sound will publish it in full length – that’s a very good practice of the magazine! So, to avoid creating additional confusion I will just refer you to the website of the film’s British producer, Breakthru Films. It is said that The Flying Machine will reach Polish cinemas on 21st October 2011. And I only hope that it will be possible to see it in other parts of the world, too – not only at festivals…

You know, there was once a piece of text published in FilmPRO 1/2010 (a Polish film industry related magazine), entitled Preludium by Marta Luchacz and Jarek Somborski. Even though it got printed almost 1.5 year ago when The Flying Machine production was actually at the stage of preproduction I guess, I think it provides quite a nice insight into the film concept and the way the works were planned. And that’s exactly why I would like to refer to it a bit and give you some shadowy (sic!) facts. (Sure, if you ever happen to find anything more up-to-date, do drop me a line as I’ll be happy to learn about it myself.)

Anyway, The Flying Machine is supposed to be the first stop-motion puppet animation in Poland made with the use of stereoscopic technique (and, so far, I have not heard of any similar project, so my assumption is The Flying Machine still holds the title of a pioneer on Polish scene). However, the film will be screened in both: traditional and 3D cinemas. There were supposed to be two different scales for puppets created for the purpose of the film – a scale of 1:4.5 for 30-40cm puppets and 1:9 for those of 15-20cm. The film was to combine 50% of animation with the remaining 50% of live action. All that was to be filmed in a specially built studio with over 20 sets prepared by Marek Skrobecki.

In the initial phase of works on the film the crew made a lot of tests, first of all, based on reference material used by creators of Coraline (2006), in order to work out the best way of creating the stereoscopic effect. However, due to completely unsatisfying results and disparity in the depth of the picture in different frames, the crew decided to reject it and set up their own rules. The challenge seemed to be even bigger when you realise that what you actually get in the film is a mix of stop-motion animation, live action (sure, I already mentioned these) but also computer animation (was to be added in the postproduction process) along with both postproduction and compositing to have been done in stereo alike (if I’m making myself clear at all 😉 ).

I am not going to get into more technical details here as I am not that technical person myself nor it’s a post on meanders of stereoscopy. It’s definitely worth reading on that fascinating subject if you are not a specialist in the field and, to be honest, the mentioned issue of FilmPRO magazine gave me a good insight into the technical details as well as the historic aspects. For the purpose of this post, though, enough to say that stereoscopy is fascinating and if you’d like to learn more, this time from a critic’s point of view, check a post by Jasper Sharp on his blog: Cinematism, Realism, and Spectacle part 6: Changing our Focus – StreetDance 3D.

In the meantime, let’s watch The Flying Machine space and fingers crossed the final effect is worth the noise 😉

Below, as usual, is a bit of a moving picture…

Should Animated Films Be Widely Available Online

July 20, 2011 2 comments

Yes, that’s a good question. Is that the question? Will an answer to it change the Earth’s shape from spherical to, let’s say, the one of banana? Well, not necessarily. And sometimes I even think this question has risen so many times that asking it again feels like a broken record…

However, two weeks ago I attended an amazing meeting / lecture / workshop (all included, I would say) with Caroline Leaf. It was within Barbican animation season. I went there with a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a while, so we both thought it would be great to meet up on, let me put it this way, the occasion of Caroline Leaf. The funny bit was in the very beginning when we tried to enter the gallery 7 minutes before the event and were told it would be open exactly at 7:30pm. So we came back exactly at 7:30pm just to realise the gallery was already full with no free seats whatsoever (my poor back, I’m tellin’ ya!…).

Anyway, the whole event with Leaf-animator-artist was an amazing thing to experience. She went through her biography, explaining tricks of her animation techniques, presenting a number of her films but also she, literally, showed the way she worked with sand in order to animate it. It was all fascinating but for me the best part was to be able to watch this very fine lady and the way she considered herself as an artist. There was no buffoonery nor arrogance. Instead, we could see a very modest and wise lady who patiently answered all questions that she must have heard thousands of times. Somehow I like meeting such women – it builds respect and maybe even gives a good example to follow in forming the right shape of one’s femininity if you know what I mean…

Oh yes, there was one question in particular that has become the title for this post. Interestingly enough… when you ask them, all artists usually say they want to protect their copyrights, their right to gain profit from their work which they, obviously, worked on really hard. Nevertheless, the films are available on Youtube or some other Vimeo channels. Sometimes the artists claim profit from clicks on ads appearing along with the films. Very often, however, complete strangers upload the films and, without any permission, make them available to the world. And here comes what Caroline Leaf said – she doesn’t mind her films to be available as it means a wide audience is able to find them and get to know her, the artist. And she doesn’t get any royalties from showing the films anyway as they were produced while at NFB of Canada, so it’s not a matter of profit for her.

Well, perhaps this is just an individual case and an individual point of view that should not be considered as a general rule. Still, I think it’s good to know the variety of opinions on this matter. If you want to think of other views (or have your own! please share!), I recommend that you follow Animated Shorts: Sell or Give Away for Free? link where Amid and his readers discuss the subject through the prism of Bob Godfrey’s films. At some point in time the films were available on a VOD site but somehow I cannot find the website now nor any info on what might have happened to it. Perhaps the rights owners have tried a number of ways to make the films widely available but none of them actually worked they way they had expected?… So instead I am giving you a link to… wikipedia 😉

And below, is wonderful The Street by Caroline Leaf from 1976. Enjoy!

Blind Date by Nigel Davies (2010)

June 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Let’s think local today – Blind Date by Nigel Davies from 2010. It’s one of the participants of competition screenings at Annecy this year. And Annecy is happening just now! 🙂

I’ve never had a blind date. Have you?

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