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Posts Tagged ‘stop motion’

Children’s Film Factory (ASIFA Magazine, vol. 24 no. 2 Winter Issue 2011)

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The article on Children’s Film Factory was published in ASIFA Magazine not so long ago.

I am putting here the scanned text and I do hope you enjoy it. If you’d like to read / see more, go to one of my previous posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Detailed Programme of 2. Se-Ma-For Film Festival (22-25 September 2011)

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Organisers of 2nd Se-Ma-For Film Festival in Lodz,  Poland have announced this year event programme.

Check this out as the festival starts in 2 days: Detailed Programme of 2. Se-Ma-For Film Festival.

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…

Balbina Bruszewska About Fryderyk Chopin (in Animation)

July 5, 2011 1 comment

I think Fryderyk Chopin is one of those Poland’s distinctive features that are worshiped and proudly mentioned everywhere when we want to refer to ART rooted in our noble country. Chopin – unquestionably great composer whose pieces are best played mainly by… Japanese 🙂 Also, a good subject for a movie especially when you realise there was 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth last year. Could it be a good subject for an animation as well? Let’s see…

Today, in a large part, I would like refer to an article by Elzbieta Chowaniec, that was published last year in a Polish film industry related magazine, FilmPRO (Od kafla do serca; issue 3/2010, October – December). So if there is any significant update on the subject, that I don’t know of, feel free to let me know – will definitely appreciate it!

Balbina Bruszewska is a young (b. 1982) and talented director, writer, photographer and animator. She graduated from Lodz Film School and has currently been working at Se-Ma-For studio in Lodz, Poland. She won Grand Prix at the most important Polish music video event in 2009, Yach Film Festival, and Yach Film Audience Award in 2008. Hence, some even call her the Queen of the Polish music video industry. Her film The City Sails On from 2009 got awarded and mentioned at a number of Polish festivals too.

Her most current project is Heart in the Wall.  It does not aspire to be an illustration of Chopin’s life. His biography is rather treated as a good base for a story of friendship, adolescence and magic love that join together a 21st century girl, Ester and a 19th century pianist. It tries to understand on-going popularity of Chopin’s music as well as Chopin’s motifs for sending his heart after death to Poland to be placed in a pillar of one of churches in Warsaw.

Works on Heart in the Wall started in 2010 and it’s planned to be finished in 2 years time. It is a Polish-Swiss co-production and it seems that it’s going to be the first Polish puppet animated feature and have the biggest budget in history. Its first script draft actually won a pitching at Animafest in Zagreb as potentially the most successful project which later on helped promote the project abroad.

In terms of production process, the film’s crew decided to arrange 8 simultaneous sets where about 200 people would work. It would allow to finish the works within 18 months, hence the film’s budget is estimated at $7mln. There are two main co-producers: Se-Ma-For studio from Poland and Archangel Film Group from Switzerland and the works were planned to be divided between the two:  puppets, sets and shoots made in Poland with postproduction made in Switzerland. Along with Bruszewska two other co-directors are said to be working on the film: Yves Gutjahr and Mihaly Gyoerik.

The information published in media make the Heart in the Wall project look very interesting and promising. I very much look forward to its completion and premiere and genuinely hope it will be worth waiting. Since there’s not many pics available on the web yet, let’s – in the meantime – have a look at a sample of what Bruszewska is capable of. Below, you can see a showreel:

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but for more, visit a few other links:

– sepukuPARTY’s Channel on Youtube

LOMO DESPERADO blog

Heart in the Wall (opens as .pdf)

Balbina Bruszewska – film maker

Hairdresser by Robert Sowa (1996) and Why Hair Stylists Are Important in a Woman’s Life

June 30, 2011 1 comment

Generally speaking, I hate going to a hair stylist / hair dresser or just anyone who is supposed to do anything with my hair. I would say: they just DON’T understand my nor my hair’s needs! And that’s the main reason for me crying nights after another such experiment in hope that maybe this time everything is gonna be different. Actually, I did have a great hair stylist. Finding him was just a shot and it was a damn good shot, may I say. One day he just took off in an unknown direction and, as you can imagine, I was devastated (in the way only a woman can be!).

HOWEVER, let me share with you my joy as HE’S BACK and I have finally found a peace of mind 🙂 Yeay! 🙂

But let us talk animation now – I can imagine you wondering: what the hell your feminine story has to do with animation?? Well, I will say, assuming you are an intelligent reader (of course, you are!), you can find links everywhere. So, today a Polish animator has crossed my mind. Not only for the hair subject in one of his works but for a few other reasons too. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s put our hands together for Robert Sowa!

He’s actually one of those Polish artists that you cannot really find much info about when you look online. His film from 1996, Hairdresser (Fryzjer) within 5 minutes shows the lonely main character who escapes into a fantasy world while we, the viewers, watch him and his actions from outside. It’s a stop-motion, plasticine animation and it got the main award at Polish OFAFA festival in 1997.

The hairdresser created by Robert is not the kind you’d like to meet and have a hair cut from, me thinks. In his films Robert explores the feelings and loneliness of his characters and the Hairdresser fits in perfectly. I am not sure if such an emotional outsider can create a good hair-do to satisfy his client’s needs. I suppose he would rather look for satisfying his own needs and desires in the first place – that’s how we, humans, are constructed and that’s what goes to the centre of our own attention when you keep repeating me, me, me… all day long. And, finally, that’s why we need to fulfill the sociable element of our nature, don’t we? Isn’t that what our mental health is all about?

This particular production can be found, however, on DVD’s included in Polish Cinema Now! package (reviewed here in May) and to be bought e.g. from Amazon. You can also have a look here for more detailed info on the book.

Robert Sowa graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland where he currently works in Jerzy Kucia‘s studio. His film Hairdresser is said to be a part of a permanent exhibition at National Museum in Cracow (source: 24 Frames per Second. Talks on Animation by Mariusz Frukacz, 2009). His other films got awards and mentions at festivals in Poland and abroad.

Polish Film Festival Wisla in Moscow, Russia (15th April – 5th May 2011)

May 25, 2011 2 comments

The festival is over but I think it’s still worth mentioning. I am selective though as I am not going to write here about anything else than animated film. This year the event organisers dedicated a separate part of its programme to Polish animation with a special contribution from Se-Ma-For studio which screened some films but also gave a stop motion master class.

As a matter of fact, I think Se-Ma-For has been doing a pretty good job recently, at least PR-wise. They have been working hard to make sure everybody knows what the studio is about, what its history was, its achievements, and what films they currently work on. In the past it was widely known in Poland that the studio had had financial problems, and it changed its status from state organisation to private. Now it seems Se-Ma-For promotes their films everywhere – not only in Poland as they appear at festivals in Europe, America, Africa, now Russia. They have retrospective programmes but also their new productions get selected for competitions and get mentioned among winners. So all in all it looks great in the media, animated film is in the scope, which means Poland gets in the scope too. So, well done Se-Ma-For!

Yes, but getting back to the Moscow festival programme… The films shown in Moscow included a few titles from Marek Skrobecki but also Maska by Timothy Quay and Stephen Quay, Two Steps Behind… (Dwa kroki za…, 2010) by Paulina Majda and The Good, the Beauty and the Truth (Dobro, piekno, prawda, 2010) by Balbina Bruszewska (pretty interesting and very active animator who will get her own post here veeeery soooooon).

For more information (available in Polish and Russian), go first of all to the festival website or at least to a piece of news on Polish Television website.

Danny Boy by Marek Skrobecki (2010)

May 20, 2011 5 comments

Today, let’s say, it is going to be a bit reflective day. Plus a bit of puppet mastery with a bit of post-production tricks. A bit of puppet animation history. And a bit of Fryderyk Chopin lookalike  in Danny Boy himself. 

Danny Boy is a film by Marek Skrobecki who wrote the script as well as directed it. It’s a story about human imperfection which can actually be called losing one’s head. You can lose presence of mind or good judgement through your crazy, insane emotions, etc. In this story almost everybody literally has lost their head. With one exception: Danny Boy, who, being a misfit, feels strongly alienated from the headless society. The film deals with the problem of loneliness of an individual and poses a question if one should level down standards in the name of social adjustment.

It has been selected for Academy Awards© 2011 in Best Animated Short category, so we’ll see what happens next. Just as a reminder (or to those who don’t know), Marek Skrobecki collaborates with a Polish renowned studio, Se-Ma-For, that appears as one of Danny Boy‘s producers alike. It’s also Se-Ma-For studio that was one of co-producers of an Oscar winner,  Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton (2006).

Among Skrobecki’s films are such amazing pieces, like: D.I.M. (1992) or Ichtys (2005).

To sum it up shortly, let’s have a look at the making of Danny Boy from Sapristi Studio, the film’s post-production company.

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