Today was Friday, a very long day. Started with some shopping and a few random observations about local Everett. For starters, popping into Borders Books so Calvin could inquire if they possibly had the new Pixar Story BOOK in stock. It took the girls working there about 10 minutes to figure out how to use their computer, in order to tell us that NO, they didn't have it yet. Which brings me to the 'random observance.' Every girl working there (I believe we counted three different ones) had the exact same appearance: long dark-blonde straight hair tied in a ponytail, slender, about 5'7" with horn-rimmed glasses. (Think of the brainy girlin your high school yearbook who loved cats) All of them! The same! It was like the Stepford Book Store Employees! This gave way to many musings about their hiring policies.
Whereupon we shopped around for some movies, books, stocking stuffers for the family, whatever we could find for a good deal on our current US dollar. Got a few books for the VanArts library, and I also found a DVD of Walt Disney:Man Behind the Myth documentary and a small Gumby set including episodes spanning 3 decades and the original Gumbasia. This made me happy cuz all these years I always felt strange not having any Gumby clips to show in my stop-mo history lectures.
In Everett we also got to see some local statues and architecture.
Visiting with the world's largest pear.
Whoever lives on the top floor of this building got gypped on the size of their balcony, compared to everyone else.
In the afternoon we had some appointments with two prospective students, one of whom did not show, but the other girl came with her mom and had a fantastic sketchbook, so that was great to see. Then I killed some more time exploring the local comic shop and used book stores yet again with Calvin and Nancy Beiman. We also grabbed dinner together; Nancy had many amazing stories about working at Disney and various other studios, too multi-faceted to document entirely here, but they involved everything from the funny to the tragic...from studio pranks involving Saran Wrap to animators committing suicide. I found out through their conversation that Disney animator Nik Ranieri, whose work I've always liked, wrote a Christian childrens' book called The Great Elephant, so I'm gonna have to check that out.
The festival itself commenced at 7pm to a decent-sized crowd. Festival Director Ken Rowe (in picture) introduced the opening film program of shorts, which were all directed by women, including Nancy Beiman herself (with an intriguing short based on one of her nightmares!) Many of the films were student projects, and about half of them were abstract in nature, which is sometimes good and sometimes causing a bit of squirming. The highlights, I felt, were Geirald the 5-Legged Spider by Sam Rusztyn, Invaders from Inner Space by Tristyn Pease, I Am PillowCat by Elaine Lee, and Especially (the capital E is intentional) The Chestnut Tree by Hyun-Min Lee. The latter film, apparently a tender silent tribute to the filmmaker's late mother, listed the assistance of Don Hahn, Bert Klein, Eric Goldberg and other Disney people in the credits. Goldberg's influence was deeply felt...it was straight pencil on white backgrounds with the classic flowing Disney touch. Absolutely breathtaking! I hope to acquire a copy somehow.
Following was a presentation of Girls Night in Animation with three reknowned women animators. First was Nancy Beiman (in picture), who showed her character designs and animation work from Hercules (the three Fates) and Treasure Planet (Billy Bones). She had worked on these scenes also with Nik Ranieri, and Calvin whispered to me that he had done clean-up on Nancy's Treasure Planet sequence she animated. We also were lucky enough to see her amazing short film from 1983, Your Feet's Too Big. Though I've met Nancy briefly before upon her visit to VanArts in 2005, it was a treat to get a better sense today of her great artistic talent.
Next up was Kathie Flood from Microsoft, who talked about game animation vs. film animation and how the two are similar yet different. The game promo she showed, for a PC racing game, was incredibly realistic for an intro reel. Pretty interesting stuff, and many questions from the Seattle-game-happy audience.
Finally we heard from and met afterwards Kureha Yokoo, an animator from Pixar who started as a crowd animator on Bugs' Life and has been there eversince. Got to see progression reels from scenes she animated for The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Beautiful work, and a humble spirit. She was rather delightful to listen to.
Next up was the "Surprise Screening" of the evening, which turned out to be Dianne Jackson's The Snowman. I had never actually seen the entire thing on a big screen before tonight, so it was a joy to see. And finally, the late night 11pm screening of more 'adult' animated films for the midnight movie crowd. A rather eclectic mix of styles, techniques and genres, including film noir, blood, poop, zombies, an insane homeless guy, Mexican cowboys shooting robots, a young boy who leaves his clothes all over town, a messed-up My Little Pony parody complete with a burning castle, and a stop-motion vicar who wants to have a "relationship" (of a more explicit nature) with God. Yeah, I'm not kidding. One thing about some animated films that bothers me is the occasions when you have a great-looking film but questionable content. Oh well.
As you can imagine, I'm exhausted and ready to recharge for another full day of animation!