7 Animation Festivals to Look Forward to in 2017

clock December 27, 2016 15:43 by author EliciaT

Animation festivals are prime spots to mingle with other animators and industry leaders, learn about and test cutting-edge animation technologies and be inspired by new animations. Many festivals even offer contests and competitions for animators to show off their skills and recognize their talent. Often for busy animators, finding the time to travel and go to them can be a challenge.

Each year, there are hundreds of art and animation festivals held around the world. But, these 7 animation festivals should be at the top of your list.

1. South by Southwest (SXSW)

One of the biggest and most well-known events is South by Southwest (SXSW). The film festival portion is held in Austin, Texas from March 10-19 and honors the winners of categories like animated shorts, documentaries and more. The deadline for the 2017 admission has passed but there are many more reasons to attend the festival than to compete or celebrate the winners. It is one of the most attended events for industry leaders and features some of the most innovative animation technologies.

2. Sundance Film Festival

Another well-known and prestigious event is the Sundance Film Festival. Top film directors, writers, animators, actors and other creators gather to view and honor the best in the industry.  One of the greatest benefits of attending one of the Sundance festivals is that tickets can give you access to early film premieres as well as exclusive parties and events with industry professionals.  

The festival is taking place from January 19-29, 2017, in Park City, Utah (United States). The submission period for 2017 has already passed, but Sundance has several other international events held at different locations and times throughout the year. An international festival will also be held in London in June 2017.

3. GLAS Animation Festival

A lesser-known, yet intimate event, GLAS Animation Festival is held in Berkeley, California from March 2-5, 2017. Although smaller, it is sponsored by some top animation companies and influencers such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Brew. Also, special guests like animation legend Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) make it a can’t miss event.

GLAS Animation Festival 2016 Trailer from GLAS Animation on Vimeo.

4. Annecy International

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival takes place in Paris, France from June 12-17, 2017. The festival partners with Mifa, or the International Animation Film Market. It is a great event to make connections with networks and others that are interested in financing, selling or distributing animation content.

5. Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film

One of the top annual animation events in the world will be held in Stuttgart, Germany from May 1-7, 2017. The festival showcases film, video and computer game animation. During the event there are multiple film viewings as well as an award ceremony. You can submit an entry to the festival until January 15, 2017.

6. D23 Expo

If you are a Disney fan, which most animation enthusiasts are, D23 Expo is the place to be. Although more of a fan convention than a film festival, it showcases what is next for the world leader in animation. There are also special events with Disney filmmakers and celebrities as well as fun events like a Mousequerade costume contest. The convention will take place in Anaheim, California, from July 14-16, 2017, and tickets are on sale now.

7. VIEW Conference

The VIEW Conference will be hosted in Turin, Italy from October 23-27, 2017. The event will host some of the biggest names in animation. Here are just a few of the expected 2017 guests: Mike Mitchell (TROLLS Director), Conrad Vernon (Sausage Party Co-Director) and Byron Howard (Zootopia Director). Besides the amazing guest speakers, the conference holds animation workshops, recruitment events and a Games Bootcamp.

 



The Most Anticipated 3D Animated Films of 2016

clock April 14, 2016 22:05 by author EliciaT

Looking at this year’s lineup of animated films, there are a number of promising titles. However, a few of the 2016 animated releases stand out from the rest. Here’s a list of the top 3D animated films to look forward to this year.

Kung Fu Panda 3

The DreamWorks Animation film is the third featuring the cuddly, karate-chopping panda Po, voiced by Jack Black. As the third installment, Kung Fu Panda 3 faces the challenge of not falling into the category of just another mediocre movie, trailing behind the success of its predecessors. However, this movie stood on its own, as creators animated it in two languages━English and Mandarin.

The storyline is not bad either. Po finally meets his biological father and visits his village with other pandas, which he must help save by training them in the art of kung fu. It is playing in theaters right now.

Zootopia

Zootopia is a 3D computer animated film by Disney’s Pixar Studios. The film takes place in a city of anthropomorphic animals. The main characters are a rabbit police officer and a con artist fox working together to find an otter that is missing. On the surface, it may sound like a simple, comedic animated flick about animals living in the big city. However, the film touches on real-world issues, such as intolerance and racism.

The animation is impressive too. Animators wanted to make sure every detail in the film was just right, specifically when it came to the fur. They studied animal hair under a microscope to aid in their animation and created unique hair types for each of the 64 animals featured in the film.

The film has surpassed expectations━it currently has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, has smashed box office records and has received widespread critical and audience praise. So far, it is the highest grossing film of the year.

The Angry Birds Movie

If you are a fan of the popular Angry Birds game, you’re probably already looking forward to the release of the animated movie. The Finnish game developer partnered with Sony Pictures to create the feature-length film. In it, the birds have more depth and story than in the game. Red, Chuck and Bomb are the three main birds that are on a mission to figure out why green pigs have invaded their island. Angry Birds fans can watch the film when it is released in May.

Finding Dory

In the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo, audiences fell in love with the lovable but forgetful Dory. This year, the film is finally getting a sequel in Finding Dory, with Ellen DeGeneres returning as the voice of the blue tang fish. This time the story focuses on Dory, as she struggles to remember her family and loved ones and embarks on a journey to find them. Along the way, she is helped by her fish friends, Hank the octopus, Destiny the whale shark and others. Marlin and Nemo make an appearance too.

However, the release of Finding Dory isn’t just exciting because it is the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo. Filmmakers also put a lot of work into it, experimenting with new animation software and techniques in order to create it. For example, animators used Renderman RIS and path tracing techniques to create more enhanced lighting effects in the water. The film opens up in theaters in June.

Moana

Another animated movie by Disney, Moana is about a girl in Oceania, who embarks on a journey at sea to get to an island━that may or may not exist. Many are looking forward to the new movie, since it is the first to feature a Polynesian princess. Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is the voice of the demi-god Maui, while Moana is voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, a 14-year old native Hawaiian. The film is being directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Princess and the Frog) and will be their first time directing a full feature 3D computer animated film. You can check it out in theaters in late November.

 

This year, animation fans have a lot to look forward to. From animals dealing with relatable problems to cultural firsts, 2016 seems to be a promising year in animation. What animated flicks are you excited for this year?






Top Contests for 3D Animators

clock March 27, 2016 18:32 by author EliciaT

Participating in media arts and animation contests is one way to help animators share their work with others, get constructive feedback, improve their skills and maybe even make some extra cash along the way. However, there are hundreds of contests out there, some not worth the time or entrance fees. As animators time is extremely valuable, so we have picked out some of the top contests that are worth checking out.

Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

The Stuttgart competition is one of the biggest and most renowned animation events in the world. The competition runs in conjunction with the international film festival, which lasts for about six days and nights and brings animation companies and leaders from every corner of the globe. The festival doesn’t only focus on animated films either. It also has a category dedicated to computer games.

The festival takes place April 26 to May 1, 2016. Winners may have their productions showcased at the event and win a lump sum of cash.

Animation Block Party

 

If you are a young animator looking to get recognition on the east coast of the United States, then Animation Block Party could be the contest for you. The contest is international but has an entrance fee between $25 and $45, depending on when you register. The prizes aren’t as grand as some of the other contests on the list, but winners have a chance to share their media with a crowd in Brooklyn. The last day to submit your animations is June 3, 2016.

Nickelodeon Shorts Program

 

The TV network channel Nickelodeon has an annual international animation competition. The competition accepts ideas for programs and shorts that would be targeted to young kids. For animators that are in the early stages of a production, this contest may be more feasible. In order to submit their ideas, applicants must have strong visuals, which can be in the form of storyboards.

Winners receive production and development support to transform their pitches into animated shorts that may be aired on the Nick TV channel, website or mobile app. Interested applicants can view last year’s winners here. Submission is free and the deadline is April 15th.

Melbourne International Animation Festival

 

The annual festival in Australia has grown significantly since it first launched in 2001. It brings guests and entrants from all over the globe. If selected, winners are considered for other festivals like London, Sydney and New Zealand International Film Festival. The submission deadline has passed, but the festival takes place between June 21-28. 

Animayo

 

Resumen Animayo 2015 from ANIMAYO on Vimeo.

Animayo is an international festival and competition that includes animated films, video games and visual effects. It is held in different locations around the world, such as Los Angeles, Gran Canaria, Madrid and Mumbai. The application is free and winners may have their works promoted by the festival for up to five years after submission.

Animation can be a strenuous, time-consuming art form, so it is important to recognize when an individual’s hard work pays off. Participating in festivals and competitions gives animators recognition and opportunities to progress in the industry.

 



Best 3D Animations of 2015

clock December 9, 2015 21:11 by author EliciaT

Each year, talented 3D animators release their newest creations. This year there have been several fantastic 3D animations released. However, a few films stick out more than the rest. Below, we have compiled a list of the best 3D animations of 2015.

The Little Prince

The film, based on the well-known children’s book by the same title, uses a mixture of computer and stop-motion animation. The characters, lighting and style of animation are reminiscent of  Antoine de Saint-Exupery's illustrated novella. However, the main reason the film makes this list of top animations is its unusual and captivating use of color.

The film has become an international success at the box office. According to the latest report, it has sold over 12.5 million tickets at the international box office, becoming the biggest animated release for French filmmakers.

Inside Out

 

Inside Out follows the story of a girl named Riley as she deals with the typical struggles associated with growing up. It portrays her emotions━fear, anger, joy, disgust, and sadness━ in the form of 3D animated characters.

The film’s creators worked directly with renowned psychologist Paul Eckman to understand and capture the complex facial expressions. Eckam is responsible for creating the mathematical-based Facial Action Coding System that influences several animators when creating facial animations.

The Pixar produced film has received critical acclaim from a number of organizations. It recently received the 2015 New York Film Critics Circle Award for best animated feature, and has been dubbed as a possible Academy Award contender.

Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie from Blue Sky Studios is arguably one of the greatest animated features of the year. Bringing famous 2D characters and stories into the world of 3D animation is a difficult challenge for the most talented animators to tackle.

However, the film’s animators worked diligently to create the 3D film, while preserving its 2D roots. Creators studied the comic strips to guide them in their work. The facial animation was especially tricky, with animators using new rigging techniques, which they called UVN transformation, that allowed the eyebrows and eyes to slide around the face.

In the end, their hard work paid off. The film manages to capture the essence of the original 2D Charlie Brown comic strip world using 3D computer animation technology.

The Good Dinosaur

 

The Good Dinosaur is another 3D animated film released by Pixar this year. The film’s major feat is its hyper-realistic world. The animators used real-life resource material to create the breathtaking settings. They studied United States Geological Survey (USGS) data and other footage of environments and weather to create the scenes.

The film’s team of creators researched heavily to develop the artwork. The animation tends to outshine the story, but has given it recognition as one of the most beautiful creations of 2015. The film was recently named as a nominee for best animated feature in the 43rd Annie Awards.

The year has produced some shining examples of well-crafted and beautiful computer animations. As we anticipate next year’s releases, what 3D animations of 2015 do you think should be added to the list?






Peanuts 3D Animated Movie is in the Can

clock September 10, 2015 15:59 by author christpaul

Possibly the most anticipated 3D animation movie in the coming years is the new Peanuts film. This is, of course, based on the iconic comic strip held very dearly in the hearts of many fans across the world. 

Peanuts is particularly poignant as it ran for several decades in publications all over the world, and was then promptly finished when its iconic writer, Charles M. Schulz, became too unwell to continue producing the strip. In the final edition of Peanuts, Schultz wrote of his illness and how proud and honoured he had been to produce the comic strip over many years.

So the new 3D animated version of Peanuts certainly has a challenge on its hands. To reproduce the vision and artistic achievement of Schulz in a 3D animated form will certainly be difficult to achieve, and the animators also need to satisfy a demanding audience that their product is truly authentic. This will be the first ever Peanuts products of any kind that has not involved its lauded creator and this naturally puts massive pressure on the animation studio.

Thus, team members at the Ice Age animation studio Blue Sky Studios were both excited and nervous when they were tasked with turning the iconic Charles M. Schulz Peanuts comic strip into a 3D motion picture, The Peanuts Movie, which opens November 6. There is a lot of anticipation regarding this new 3D animated movie, but at the same time it is hard to escape the feeling that the knives could be out for The Peanuts Movie if it fails to deliver the sort of authentic experience that fans will unquestionably desire and expect.

Speaking Thursday at CGI confab Siggraph, the team behind the film spoke before a clearly enthusiastic crowd of animation fans as it described how it translated Schulz’s subtle dots and pen lines — some of the world's most recognizable comic strip images — into the upcoming feature. Clearly this has been a labour of love, and the animation studio is all too aware of the faithfulness that it needs to show to the original comic strip.

However, animation supervisor Scott Carroll is confident about the work his team have done. Carroll summed up the effort that the team have made for The Peanuts Movie thus: “Our big lesson that we took away from this: If you have faith in your creative team, you can take on big risks.”

With just three months to wait until Peanuts is finally sprung upon an expectant audience, it'll be fascinating to see whether the animation studio has achieved the success that it is unquestionably hoping for.



Harry Potter 3D Animation Being Prepared for Release

clock September 3, 2015 14:02 by author christpaul

When the media reported recently that Harry Potter was about to appear in a new movie incarnation, fans of the hugely successful book series were extremely excited about the prospect. Harry Potter has been one of the success stories of the publishing industry in recent years, and the series of movies sponsored by the character of also proved to be hugely popular.

The Harry Potter movie in question confirmed this suspicion of analysts, who expected a new release in the series in the foreseeable future. But the movie in question has also confounded the expectations of both critics and fans alike, as the movie in question is set to be a feature length 3D animation.

"Troll: The Rise of Harry Potter Jr." will be produced by SC Films International, and it is reported that the animation process is already well under way for this film. However, considering that canonical material from the Harry Potter universe is now in rather short supply, it is notable that the Harry Potter in this story is not actually the original character. This Harry Potter and his son, Harry Potter Jr. are characters from the 1986 film, "Troll," a movie that came out years before the renowned author released her book about the Boy Who Lived. 

So this Harry Potter picture has certainly confounded the community of fans, but it will be interesting to see whether it gains traction with traditional Potter followers. The story of "Troll" revolves around Torok, a wizard turned troll who wanted his old life back. In order to do that, he possesses Wendy Potter, a young girl who recently moved into a new apartment complex in San Francisco. The studio working on the movie states that it will be a very advanced 3D animation when it is released, and it will be interesting to see whether they can deliver on this promise.

With Harry Potter having made billions of dollars at the box office, the opportunity to promote this new animated movie will certainly be exciting for the studio. The fact that it effectively comes from a completely different universe could suggest that this animation will fail to attract the sort of audience that Harry Potter material typically takes for granted. Additionally, although "Troll" did quite well in the box office, it was generally panned by critics. So it will be a challenge to repeat the success of the live-action Harry Potter films. 

There are reports that Academy Award winning actress, Patricia Arquette, will be voicing the evil witch while Baxter Bartlett is being considered to voice the young Harry Potter Jr. This could being an animated movie to look out for in the next couple of years.



Adult Themes and Developing Economies to Dominate 3D Animation Future

clock August 30, 2015 15:47 by author christpaul

With 3D animation becoming such a mainstream niche, the motto of the industry could perhaps be “go where no-one has gone before”. This old adage from the Star Trek universe indicates the importance of innovating in 3D animation in the contemporary landscape. Animation has gone beyond our imagination, featuring not just cartoon characters, but increasingly human emotions. With robots and monsters, talking animals, dancing toys, aliens taking human form and humans performing super-human acts, animation has opened up a completely new world of imagery and fantasy.

Considering the increasingly realistic animations that are possible with 3D animation, it is hardly surprising that major animation studios and producers are still developing this technology. While companies such as Walt Disney made their reputations with films that were ostensibly aimed at children, today it is possible to produce animations targeting a much more adult audience. Equally, it is common for contemporary Disney films to attempt to be all things to all people, and attract an audience of both children and adults with multi-faceted, multi-level narratives and scripts.

 

Equally, animation studios are realising the importance of diversity and plurality in producing modern 3D animations. Although this has unquestionably been a US-dominated industry up until now, it is also equally certain that 3D animation is beginning to diversify as the 21st century unfolds. Rapidly industrialising countries in the so-called developing world have got on board with 3D animation, and thus there are a wide range of major animation studios now located in countries such as India.

Major animation studios and producers from all over the world like Walt Disney, Imax and Sony are increasingly outsourcing cartoon characters and special effects to India, along with commercials and video games. Avataar, The Lion King, Finding Nemo and The Adventures of Tenali Raman are some of the animation films with Indian expertise that have received rave international reviews.

The propensity of animation studios to both innovate and locate work outside of the traditional Western world indicates that this industry still has a huge amount of developing to do. It is extremely difficult to predict the future of 3D animation, not least because it has always been based on technological innovation and development.

But what can be said with some confidence is that these two trends of more adult 3D animations and an increasing participation from developing economies and newly industrialising countries will be important in the future. These two tendencies should contribute to a highly exciting industry going forward.



3D Printing Once Again Provides Animation Template

clock August 26, 2015 13:51 by author christpaul

As 3D animation continues to develop, it seems that 3D printing is playing an increasingly important role in the industry. These two naturally collaborative technologies are being utilised concurrently on a wide variety of different projects, and yet another one has come to light recently.

The studio behind stop-motion comedy Robot Chicken used a 3D printer in order to produce several aspects of the animation, and the experience animation studio has emphasised the advantages of this method. 3D printing has enabled Stoopid Buddy Stoodio to produce a large amount of the puppetry and animation work involved in the project in-house. And there is no longer the need to mould and craft everything on-site; even a job such as cleaning up complex parts becomes obsolete.

Thomas Keiser, the director of design for Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, stated that 3D printing has enabled the animation studio to mass produce animation elements, since the machine utilised has a large build volume. Keiser was speaking to 3D Printing Industry, an important industry publication that documents developments in this burgeoning industry.

 

Animators at the studio utilised an EnvisionTEC Perfactory 4XL printer in order to achieve the unique animation technique. The studio was already familiar with this particular printer, which ensured that the production could be kept as affordable as possible. It is important to emphasise that despite some recent innovations in the niche, 3D printing remains an incredibly expensive technology. Although animators are now achieving 3D extremely impressive results with 3D printing, it will certainly be beyond the price point of many small and medium animation studios.

Using the printer, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios were able to design the action figure puppets that give the shows their signature look with more precisely honed mechanical properties, engineering them for their own creative needs. The studio has become more involved with producing prototype toys and props for television commercials as a result of their pioneering work with 3D printing, and this has opened up new opportunities for the studio.

3D printing is one example of modern 3D animation techniques that has played a major role in the development of the industry as a whole. There is no question that 3D animation is the most important new technology in contemporary filmmaking, and continues to have a profound effect on Pro software package proving popular with studios all over the world.



Pixar Director Sees Rich Narrative Future for 3D Animation

clock June 24, 2015 21:50 by author christpaul

John Lasseter is an infamous name in the field of 3D animation, as he is the director of the Pixar animated masterpieces ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’. Thus, when he offers his views on the future of 3D animation it is certainly worth paying attention.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lasseter has presided over a revolution in filmmaking: as a director he has played his part in reasserting the fundamentals, no less, of the art of film itself. And as creative head, of Pixar then Disney (since 2006), he has reinvigorated the stale, corporate, executive-laden world of children’s entertainment.

While 3D animation is often emphasised as being a state of the art medium, Lasseter sees things differently. He suggest that 3D is just a new tool that the filmmaker has to help tell a story. In this sense, the Pixar legend just sees the technology becoming the mainstream of filmmaking, rather than a niche element of the industry.

Every technology that comes into filmmaking is first a gimmick. Think about sound with “The Jazz Singer” or the first colour or surround sound – it takes a while for filmmakers to understand how to use it. Most of the time, when people think about 3D, it is with images ‘coming out of the screen’ at the viewer.

 

But these are just the early days of 3D, and Lassiter believes that as people understand the technology even better than we do at the moment, that it will evolve rapidly.

There is certainly pressure on Pixar to produce something outstanding owing to its position in the industry. Pixar has become such a dominant name that it is literally synonymous with it. And under the circumstances, the billion dollar company which Pixar has become ensures that the industry constantly looks to the company for innovation.

But according to the comments of Lassiter, Pixar sees the future of the industry as involving 3D animation becoming a mature form of storytelling. Perhaps at times elements of 3D animation can still be gimmicky, but this pioneer of the industry has no doubt that this will not remain the case indefinitely. This is a medium which has huge potential to usurp existing forms of filmmaking and deliver an entirely new, more profound experience.

Considering the success of its biggest movies, there's absolutely no doubt that Pixar will play a central role in this, and don't bet against Lassiter himself producing another 3D animation classic.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro - Next Edition Taking Shape

clock June 22, 2015 12:43 by author christpaul

Here at Natural Front we are continually working at improving our software, and we expect to have some exciting announcements in the near future regarding our proprietary Intuitive Pro package. Our experienced team of engineers and animators has been working behind the scenes in order to improve our already outstanding animation software, and we anticipate that it will only be weeks until we can announce the latest improvements to the 3D animation package.

This is always an exciting time for everyone at Natural Front, and we are certainly enjoying putting the finishing touches to our latest product. But we always like to remind people at this time that feedback from our customers is particularly important to us. Natural Front and the Intuitive Pro software package have been built on the principle of a constant two-way feedback loop, with the software always treated as a beta build that is being continually updated.

So as much as we are looking forward to releasing our latest version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, we're also looking forward to hearing from our extremely valued customers regarding their perspectives on the software.

One particularly exciting aspect of the new Natural Front software is the possibility that it offers related to video games. We are currently in the process of developing a plug-in for an extremely popular game engine, which will provide Natural Front users with even greater convenience. There is, of course, an extremely strong relationship between video games and 3D animation, and we're looking to develop and grow this aspect of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software in the coming years.

We're also pleased to announce that the United States Patents and Trademark Office has just granted us another patent, and we will be utilising the underlying technology related to this in our new release. We can't say too much about this latest innovation at this point in time, but we are extremely confident that it will be something our customers simply love using.

So we're all hyped for this latest Natural Front Intuitive Pro release, and anticipate being able to release some more explicit information to customers in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can rest assured that we're working extremely hard to develop the software, and that we have taken on board all the comments that we have recently received from our customers. In the meantime, we hope you're enjoying using the existing version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, and we look forward to hearing more feedback from our valued professional animators in due course.



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