November 13, 2008
(photo courtesy of Stephanie Yuhas)

The founding editor of fps passed away peacefully in the presence of his family on November 11, shortly before 10 p.m.

You may have noticed this year, we tried to keep up with news in the animation industry but Emru wasn't posting as often. He was having difficulty wrapping up our annual animation charity auction at the end of last year because of a mystery ailment, which turned out to be an aggressive form of leukemia. Ironically, last year's auction proceeds went to the Cancer Research Society.

Emru is also my big brother.

On January 30, he found out that I was not a compatible match for him as a bone marrow donor, something neither he nor I knew anything about until I began to research it. We talked and messaged about it that day. The next morning, he asked me remember to post about the early Japanese animation retrospective at the Cinematheque Quebecoise because he had another checkup, since he found out he was also not in remission. Even though we were trying to save his life and help other people, animation was still an important part of our lives. When we would talk on the phone we would discuss the day's accomplishments in terms of donor recruitment and awareness, and what news was interesting in the animation world.

Truthfully, Emru treated his relationship to animation and stem cell awareness in a similar fashion: People over things. When he was passionate about an idea or a movement, he would reach out to people and try to bring people together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. He encouraged others to believe in their abilities and aim high.

Vicky Tamaru of Plexipixel encouraged people to attend bone marrow drives around the US to help Emru, and provided an exhaustive list to make it easier for people to get involved. This was crucial, as Canadians cannot run bone marrow drives and Emru and I had to rely on other ways to educate people in our country.

When the Cinematheque's retrospective began in February, I was incredibly touched by the outpouring of support from the local animation community, and animation curator Marco de Blois mentioning Emru's need for a donor during such an important occasion.

The day after the retrospective began, Toon Boom Animation added a new page to save the Toon Boom Voice: Emru had provided the voice for the company's tutorials. After Emru found a match in early June, they understood many other people needed to find donors, and decided to keep the page running so the information would be available.

We created flyers and other promotional materials, and it was no surprise that one of the biggest attention grabbers was a portrait of the anime version of Emru, designed by local artist Veronique Thibault. Young people especially were drawn to the image, then paid attention to the important information that was included. At Anime North this year, I ran into old friends of Emru who remembered how he was present when anime was an inchoate "trend" and how he championed the works that he felt deserved more attention. At Otakuthon, it was similar.

Emru was notified in June of a potential match the day before he was set to travel to a planning meeting for the annual ACM SIGGRAPH conference. He was co-chair of the Computer Animation Festival until he fell ill, but the SIGGRAPH organizers refused to let him resign and insisted he stay on as a consultant even if he was only able to help in a limited capacity. He was thrilled at the idea of being cleared to travel, seeing fellow volunteers again, and being able to help out.

Just as I was gearing up for the Fantasia film festival, I was also preparing an ad for the Rock The Bells concert tour with the help of two friends. One was Ward Jenkins, who provided this beautiful illustration of Emru. Two of the films Emru especially enjoyed this year before he really had to stay away from crowds were Genius Party and Fear(s) of the Dark at the Fantasia Film Festival and he registered his enjoyment of them days before his death. Fantasia organizers donated the proceeds from one of their films to Emru, and this helped his family enormously, as neither he nor his wife could work much in 2008.

In September, I gave him the run-down of all the happenings at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which began the day after Emru's received his bone marrow transplant. He received it at the Ottawa Hospital, and he joked about the timing of the transplant being perfect, because he was planning since the previous year's festival to be in Ottawa anyway. I hardly reported on the festival this year, as I was busy campaigning for stem cell donor registration with Emru leading up to it, and I was more exhausted than I thought I would be when I got to the festival. Once there, I received an astonishing outpouring of support for Emru, a festival regular for 19 years - this would have been his 20th year, and I think his presence was still felt despite his physical abscence. It was actually an extension of the support he had received in the form of calls, emails, blog postings, articles, letters, and events that had been occurring to help him. He cherished the sketchbooks he received full of sketches from festivalgoers.

He was happy to hear about the great films at the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, a small festival with a big lineup. He and I always looked forward to it, whether we could attend or not. In the last few years we made a point of it and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. It starts today and I wish I could be blogging about that and heading there tomorrow as I had originally planned, instead of writing about this. Joseph Chen, the WFAC curator, just sent me an email saying he wished he could be in Montreal for Emru's visitation.

No matter where you are, if you love Emru or love animation, he loves you too.

Visitation Information

Learn more about becoming a stem cell or bone marrow donor.
It starts with a cheek swab (Canada, US) or blood sample (Quebec, UK).
If you match, you do not put your own life at risk to potentially save another.

UK - Anthony Nolan Trust, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
US - National Marrow Donor Program, DKMS Americas
Canada - Hema Quebec Stem Cell Registry, OneMatch Stem Cell Network

Other Countries

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October 27, 2008
If you didn't get a chance to attend Richard Williams' masterclass at the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival, and live on the west coast, you may have another chance to catch him. Beginning today, the award-winning animator will be touring several west coast cities until November 7th.

Tonight, ACM SIGGRAPH's Vancouver chapter will host a free two-hour masterclass, signing and a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

On Wednesday the 29th, he will be in Redmond, WA, at as a run-up to Seattle's 2D Or Not 2D festival. While the event is free, it is open only to DigiPen BFA alumni and working professionals, so follow the link if you qualify to find out how to get your tickets.

On Thursday the 30th, it's Portland time with the Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH chapter. The event is free for chapter members and 5.00 dollars for everyone else, but attendees need to RSVP by the 28th.

The last public event on November 2nd happens in San Francisco. A benefit for ASIFA-SF, this event will feature the two-hour masterclass and the event will be moderated by author and chapter president Karl Cohen (shown above, left, with Richard Williams, and Cohen's wife Denise McEvoy at the OIAF Animators' Picnic). The admission is only 9.00 dollars and only 6.50 for a child or a senior. A mere pittance for the wealth of information and experience that will be available and to help a great organization.

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September 4, 2008

The Montreal chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH is holding its season opener with an open-air screening in the park next to their usual haunt, the Society for Arts and Technology. Selections from the 2008 Computer Animation Festival will be shown, and while the event is free, you can pick up your annual membership to help support the chapter.

"Doors open" on Saturday, September 6, at 9:30 at Parc de la Paix. There's more info on the SAT website.

2008 SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival trailer

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August 14, 2008
Film festival venues can be overwhelming and conference venues can be overwhelming, but when you combine them... well, the experience hovers somewhat above the horizon. That said, here are some tidbits:

1. Much discussion, several panels, and two full days of screenings of stereoscopic (3D) films, commercials, sports events, games and scientific visualizations on the first day of the conference. 3D is the agenda for 21st-century digital releases. I took in the two-hour screening of 3D clips and then heard fine artist and installation/performance artist Catherine Owens speak about collaborating with Bono on the 3D film of U2's concert in Buenos Aires. She spoke convincingly about "experimental" exploration and commitment to "idea" in relationship to her personal art, as well as in relationship to her directorial debut of the film U2 3D.

2. The Computer Animation Festival is programmed into seven two-hour screenings that most often repeat the commercials, trailers, and synopses of film titles submitted. For example, Rhythm and Hues showcased effects scenes of the polar bears in "The Golden Compass" and that is screened alongside the commercial from Bridgestone Tires many have seen of the squirrel running onto the highway to retrieve a nut as a car swerves to miss killing him. The festival is screening two impressive studio shorts worth mentioning here: Pixar Studios' Presto and Disney Studios' Glago's Guest. If you've seen WALL-E you've seen Presto before the feature screens.

3) A wonderful Tribute To Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas happened today with Tom Sito moderating a panel that included Frank Thomas' son, Theodore Thomas, documentary filmmaker, as well as a group of celebrity animators who had worked with the two of them in a mentor relationship. All of them delightfully shared their experiences with Frank and Ollie and were very well received. More on this later.

A closing note in case you don't want to wait: you may go online to read about all the sessions at SIGGRAPH 08 and can listen to them on DVD. All panels and discussions have been recorded are available for purchase.

I have constantly forgotten the number one rule for attending film festivals and conferences: find a place to sit, eat well and if you do this, thinking might follow! That said, I will return to report more soon, in spite of the L.A. smog my allergies are swimming in...

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August 8, 2008
Normally around this time I'd be gearing up for the annual SIGGRAPH conference; in fact, if things had gone as planned I'd already be in Los Angeles right now. But a number of things about SIGGRAPH and the way we're covering it are different, and I figured I should pass this information on to you.

A little over a year ago, I was selected to be the chair of SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival. My first order of business was to restructure the festival, which was then divided between the theatrically screened Electronic Theater and the constantly running Animation Theater. The idea was to provide a new structure that kept the spirit of SIGGRAPH while more closely resembling a traditional animation festival.

Working out the overall framework and ideology was about as far as I got before the precursors to my leukemia started to hit in November. I'd started working out a few details here and there about the jurying process with my director, but that was about it.

Back during the initial meetings, I was concerned about how Frames Per Second was going to cover SIGGRAPH. After all, we'd been covering the conference since our days as a print magazine (I believe our first report was in 1996), but there was the issue of conflict of interest. I ended up sitting down with the people responsible for SIGGRAPH's media relations, and we worked out a solution that we're going to follow even though I ultimately participated far less in the process than intended.

This year our SIGGRAPH coverage will be handled by Janeann Dill (who wrote up a SIGGRAPH festival report with me back in 2005), but utterly independent of me. That is, nothing she writes about is discussed with me beforehand, and I won't be editing any of her blog posts, even for things like typos. (Any editing will be handled by Kino Kid.) In short, no editorial intereference from the guy who was on the inside. Janeann's posts will be as fresh to me as they are to you, and I anticipate enjoying them just as much as any other reader, as well.

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November 12, 2007
This Wednesday, November 14, at 6:00 p.m., the Montreal chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH is screening the 2007 Electronic Theatre at the SAT. Admission is free and so is the popcorn!

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August 28, 2007
Whenever I go to SIGGRAPH, I juggle my professional obligations with my personal interests and some sort of committee activity. This year was no different (and neither is next year); as a juror for the Sketches & Posters committee, I chaired one of the Sketches sessions on the last day of the conference—a session called "Looking Good," which featured two presentations related to anime.

For the uninitiated, a quick primer: Sketches & Posters are two ways of presenting innovative ideas in a quicker and less formal way than academic papers or full-blown exhibits. A typical Sketch presentation is about 15 to 20 minutes, including audience Q&A.

Shigeo Morishima and Shigeru Kuriyama, of Waseda University and Toyohashi University of Technology, respectively, presented "Data-Driven Efficient Production of Cartoon Character Animation," which sounds a lot drier than it is. Their presentation focused mostly on a motion capture system they've developed called MoCaToon; secondarily, they spoke about AniFace, a lip-sync application that detects phonemes and automatically assigns mouth shapes at the right frames.

Like I said, it sounds dry. But here's the thing: The key difference between MoCaToon and other motion capture systems is that the team—Morishima and Kuriyama are part of a ground of five—are working not to make anime more realistic, but to take real-world motion data and make it more anime-like. The question they're asking is, how can they figure out what data to throw out or simplify in order to preserve the anime aesthetic, while meeting their ultimate goal of making anime production more efficient?

As a test, the team reshot a sequence from the hand-drawn Galaxy Railways in cel-shaded CG, using the original soundtrack. In so doing, they cut the original production time of 32 days down to 28.

The results were mixed, which is to be expected as the system is still in its early stages. There were, however, more than a few glimpses of the potential it holds. While I thought the tight and medium shots of the distraught lovers didn't gain a thing from MoCaToon, I appreciated how a complicated action scene was easier to put together. In both cases, though, there was obviously work to be done in streamlining the motion further.

(There is some irony here. Despite their stated goal to try to keep the anime flavour, using AniFace—that is, giving anime characters accurate lip sync—is actually pretty jarring.)

The other presentation was by OLM Digital's Yosuke Katsura, who along with Ken Anjyo has developed a lens shader (i.e., a means of modifying the camera view in 3D software) that skews real-world perspective in order to make it more anime-like. Think of the forced perspectives that you see in action or panoramic shots and you'll get the idea; Katsura demonstrated one aspect of the shader with a car racing down a road away from the camera, but vanishing into infinity at the horizon for a less realistic but more dramatic effect. He also spent time on the more subtle perspective tweaks that are used in background and overhead shots that aren't technically accurate, but better reinforce a sense of scale or place. It's the same way that an artist might "cheat" a drawing to make it less physically accurate but more emotionally resonant.

While watching these presentations (and—full disclaimer—while jurying the submissions) I found myself thinking of the CGI Appleseed, which for all of its shininess lacked the visual snap that hand-drawn anime offers precisely because it stuck too close to a literal model of its 3D world. It's ironic that these three scientists are working so hard at preserving the artistic unreality that makes anime—heck, all animation—so appealing.

Update (10/15): I forgot to mention that I got in touch with Shigeru Kuriyama, who has generously created a Web page for MoCaToon, including Flash animation demos. You can see examples of his work here.

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August 19, 2007
If you couldn't make it to this year's SIGGRAPH conference in San Diego (or your local chapter's screening of selected Computer Animation Festival shorts), you're in luck: I've pulled together links to all of the shorts from this year's Electronic Theater and Animation Theaters that are available online in their entirety. (Rather, I think this is all of them: if I've missed any, please let me know.)

Of course, you're not really getting the whole experience as most of these shorts are squished to easily-downloadable sizes. Most of the shorts are on three DVDs available directly from SIGGRAPH's Video Review website; while they're not listed on the site yet, you can send them e-mail to get all the info. The discs are a little pricey, though (they're $60 each, or $40 each for ACM members), especially if you're looking for specific shorts. If you're hunting for something in particular on DVD, you can sometimes find shorts for a little less on the creators' websites or on Stash's monthly DVD compilations.

For now, however, here's what's available online.
This list makes up just a little more than half of all the shorts that were shown, so you'll get a good idea of what the festival was like this year. And to save you clicking back and forth, all of these links open in a new browser window.

27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta
Adidas: Adistar
Aditya Birla Group India
Beach Ball
Beck: Girl
Budwiser: King Crab
Building Blocks
Burning Safari
Capturing and Animating Skin Deformation
Chevrolet: Buildings
Chocolate Pillows
En Tus Brazos
Fed Ex: Moon Office
Fight Night Round 3
Gears of War
Gorillaz: El Mañana
Half Life 2: Episode 2
Happiness Factory
High Fashion in Equations
HP Hands: Jay-Z
HP Hands: Paulo Coelho
It's JerryTime!: The Big Time
Johnnie Walker: Human
La Marche des sans nom
Lenovo: Virus
L'Uomo Uccello
Marvel Ultimate Alliance: Intro
Microsoft Zune: Two Little Birds
Nissan Animal
Oli's Chance
Pepsi: Dance Tron
Respire, Mon Ami - Breathe, My Friend
Sears Tools: Aboretum
Sky HD: Feel Everything
The Adventures of Baxter & McGuire: The Soccer Game
The Animator and the Seat
The End
The Grandfather of Soul
The Itch
Travelers: Snowball
U2 and Green Day: The Saints Are Coming
Video 3000
Vigorsol: The Legend
Volkswagen Touran
Warhammer Online: The Age of Reckoning
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

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August 17, 2007
The annual SIGGRAPH conference ended less than a week ago, and Emru is still in recovery. Here's something for those of us who couldn't make it.

Our local chapter, ACM SIGGRAPH Montreal, is hosting a screening of selections from the Computer Animation Festival in Parc de la Paix, the space next to the Society of Arts and Technology (SAT) at 1195 Saint-Laurent this Saturday, August 18. An outdoor screening would be great, but in case of rain, it will move next door to the SAT who are always gracious hosts.

You can view the 2007 trailer here.
Find your local SIGGRAPH chapter.

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February 23, 2007
Who says animating doesn't require physical fortitude? This year's SIGGRAPH features something new—the first international Fjorg! competition, in which sixteen teams of three animators each will have to put together a minimum of fifteen seconds of animation over 32 straight hours, using only the materials provided. Most intriguing are the planned but unspecified "distractions" that they must overcome.

If you're brave enough to give this a shot, you've got until May 1 to get a team together and submit a demo reel. More details are available on the SIGGRAPH 2007 site.

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October 29, 2006
If you have read the article about the Computer Animation Festival and the Electronic Theater in our latest issue, you'll know that this selection of animation is among the most notable recent computer animation (among them is Michel Gagné's Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets, shown here). It is the tradition of Montreal ACM SIGGRAPH to begin its season with a screening of Electronic Theater from the annual conference. This year's kick-off event will occur this week Wednesday, November 1st at the Society for Arts and Technology followed by an audio-visual remixing of the Electronic Theater as part of a special event in the [SAT]MixSessions series.

What animation-related events are happening at your local chapter?

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August 3, 2006
You can find Miyazaki-inspired works everywhere, but I was surprised to see Princess Mononoke cited in an Emerging Technologies exhibit. Remember when the Shishigami emerged walked toward the wounded Ashitaka, and plants sprouted, bloomed, withered and died at each step? Moderation, by Zack Booth Simpson, recreates that. As you walk along the projection of shallow water over stones, plants appear at your feet, and slowly wither. However, if you step too quickly it doesn't quite work right; to get the proper effect, you have to temper your movement and walk with careful deliberation, like the forest spirit himself. You can see Moderation in action on YouTube, on Google Video, or by downloading an MPEG from the site.

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As Emru mentioned in his earlier post, this year's Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH is filled with films. This year 97 works have been selected from a record 726 entries. Thirty-four of those have been selected for the prestigious Electronic Theater and will be discussed later. The remaining 63 works have been screened as part of the Animation Theater. Divided into 7 separate 25-minute screenings, this year's Animation Theater showcased a wide range of short films mixed with scientific, art, broadcast and videogame works. Some highlights include Oh Hisse (pictured above) by Hikaru Yamakawa (Japan), Real Birds Don't Barf by Bernhard Haux (Germany), Fertilizer Soup by Sylvain Marc (France) and 3D Illusion in Motion by Yee Siong Leow (Singapore). All in all the screenings were entertaining and a number of them would have been included in the Electronic Theater if I had been a juror.

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August 2, 2006
OK... so I tried real hard to find the Job Fair yesterday... But it's so incredibly tucked away in a corner and I think I'm not the only who missed it. So, let me clarify: There is a Job Fair (as this picture attests). And it's separate from the exhibits. Some companies have booths in both sections such as Laika - if you give them your show reel, they give you a t-shirt. What can be confusing is that some houses have "we are hiring" signs posted at their exhibition booths but they are not present at the Job Fair (Pixar for example). So back to the actual fair: Ambitious and/or very talented applicants might be able to land an interview there, on the spot. There are "rooms" set-up for that.

Another clarification: ILM is hiring but the actual booth at the exhibit is that of Lucasfilm. The difference? ILM, LucasArts and Lucasfilm are all different companies. Are they all owned by Lucas? I can at least say that a representative from Lucasfilm told me yesterday that Lucasfilm has been revamped into a different and independent company in the past two years... But I saw all three companies call out for recruitment under the same hut today. So I guess the big names do need a re-introduction every couple of years or so.

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August 1, 2006
This year's Computer Animation Festival is crammed to the hilt with material—a nearly two-hour Electronic Theater (which premiered last night and featured, among other things, a giant game of Pong controlled in real-time by the entire audience), and three hours of the Animation Theater. Unfortunately, the Japan Media Arts Festival's annual presentation of award-winning works from the previous year's fest was, as usual, about 75 minutes. I say "unfortunately" because some works that deserved to be seen in full (chief among them Koji Yamamura's The Old Crocodile) were edited down to provide a mere taste, or (like The Consultation Room) weren't shown at all. But what was shown was generally strong.

The Animation Division segment led off with Sumito Sakakibara's Flow (pictured above), in which we see one woman's life in eight phases, from baby to obaasan (grandmother). However, the entire journey takes place in one frame, and the phases all occur simultaneously, sometimes interacting with each other. I've always been a fan of shorts that bring the mechanical aspects of the craft to the fore, where the director has to plan how the various pieces will interconnect. Usually, the method is used when you want to show how seemingly distinct events are interconnected; in Flow, it can be seen as illustrating how we interact with our descendants, or how we interact with different generations in general.

Kazuhiro Hotchi's Anima, which took the Excellence Prize in the Art Division, features a nude woman dancing, her moves as wild, raw and physical as the music—it almost perfectly matches how I've always imagined the orgiastic Maenads dancing. As the woman leaps, twists, and writhes, the camera follows her with just as much energy, sometimes coming to rest on its side or even upside down. Animated dance is, at its best, as enthralling as live dance performances, but even the best of them tend to emphasize only grace (I'm thinking of Erica Russell's Feet of Song, and even Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood), and rarely explore its raw physicality. I also commented that it looks completely unlike what most people perceive as "the Japanese animation style."

Wamono, the music video for breakbeat duo Hifana's track of the same name, took the Excellence Prize in the Entertainment Division. Directed by +cruz (how do you pronounce that?), it has two fishermens' animated alter egos out navigating the waves, spinning tunes, riding inside giant fishes and hanging out with mermaids—all in the ukiyo-e style. We're featuring the clip in its entirety in this week's Flicker newsletter, so you can see it with your own eyes.

Bip & Bap tells the story of a boy and his dog, pint-sized adventurers who are always ready to grab trouble by the tail. Imagine Hergé mashed up with Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka, rendered to look like cutouts that flip 180 degrees when someone looks the other way or changes expression. Pretty neat stuff that completely captures the boy's adventure vibe of decades past.

Finally, in the Art Division, the only short I'll mention here that can only be done on a computer: Yoshinao Sato's desktop is entirely animated using screen shots of a computer's desktop. Sato moves, resizes, and scrolls through the contents of a multitude of windows, creating dizzying mosaics, optical illusions and assorted visual tricks, all set to music. desktop goes on just a little too long, but it's forgivable as Sato wants to show off every last trick he could think of. (One of my favourites was when he made the windows shimmy when the music was it its most rump-shaking. André also pointed out that you should pay attention to the clock in the corner to get an idea of how much time it took to make each sequence.) At last, a film where "made on a computer" has a different meaning.

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The job fair at SIGGRAPH is somewhat of a hi-tech, animated (and mo-capped!) bazaar. The companies that are hiring are intertwined with the ones who are displaying their latest movie or product. Almost all of the companies here look like fun places to work at though. Some of the names here need no introduction (ILM, Rhythm and Hues, ATI), while others (the mo-cap companies, the animation schools, the smaller and innovative firms such as Cecropia) remained to be discovered.

The trouble for job seekers of course is to know how to approach and impress their potential employers. Such questions were addressed and answered yesterday by Pamela K. Thompson, a.k.a. AWN's Career Coach, during her course entitled "Resumes and Demo Reels: If Yours Aren't Working Neither Are You!" The Coach gave several helpful tips and statistics such as not to wait for a convention to hand out CVs; during SIGGRAPH a major animation or FX house could receive up to 3,000 CVs and demos, as opposed to 30 during a regular week. She also stressed a rule that every job seeker should remember: your personality traits—or your invisible resumé as she calls it—is the most important marketing tool that you have. It can make or break your reputation in the CGI/animation industry. The job fair started today, and it continues Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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July 31, 2006
After a relatively smooth arrival and a short detour through Boston's numerous streets I've made it to SIGGRAPH. Being my first trip to the annual event of geekdom I was very excited and could not wait to get started.

First up in my schedule was "The Art of Open Season: Traditional 2D Styling with Today's Bells and Whistles." First observation: it was held in the humongous Hall C (think airplane hangar). Second observation: Open Season might be better than I originally thought. Now I'm typically quite skeptical of most major Hollywood animated releases (name one major release from this year and I haven't seen it). They're typically too formulaic for my liking and place too much emphasis on photo-reality. Don't get me wrong though I do have an urge to see them, I just don't for some reason.

Anyway back to the panel which presented a behind-the-scenes look that detailed the process of taking stylized 2D designs and converting them into workable 3D characters. Rather than represent a photo-real environment the production team combined impressionistic backgrounds with more stylized CG characters. While I’m not one hundred percent sold by the character design it did look better than the trailer I’ve seen online. They also presented a rather exciting dam-breaking sequence that was enjoyable even if it was missing the dialogue track (due to technical reasons).

All in all it was an okay start to SIGGRAPH and now I’m off to the first of a number of animation screenings. More updates to follow.

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This morning at SIGGRAPH is the beginning of Papers. Here, academic and industry researchers present their latest discoveries in CGI. I got a sample of all the papers yesterday, during the Fast Forward Papers Review, when each presenter attempted (and many times failed) to explain what he/she will be talking about in just 50 seconds. There are many promising papers, such as "Capturing and Animating Skin in Human Motion" on Wednesday (preview shown here); which will discuss how mocap can be used to deform the muscles and skin of a CG figure—something that can be time-consuming (but also rewarding) when done in key-frame animation. Another interesting one is the "Inverse Kinematics for Reduced Deformable Models". This one promises manipulation of detailed meshes by using example shapes and not the traditional (and tedious) skeleton rigging method. Today's Papers range from "A Planar Reflective Symmetry Transform for 3D Shapes" to "Image-Based Material Editing". For the full Papers sked and a QuickTime clip, go to

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November 22, 2005

We admit it: fps is in a love-love relationship (there's no hatin') with ACM SIGGRAPH, and that applies no less to the local Montreal chapter of the international organization. (Feel the love here, here, here, and here.)

While some people think computer animation (they're thinking strictly 3D) is the be-all-end-all, and others think it is the cartoon equivalent of the Apocalypse, ACM SIGGRAPH, while fostering interest in computer graphics and interactive techniques gets that all animation is part of a continuum. Therefore, entire styles and trends cannot always be discretely separated or pitted against each other. Many types of movements in art and innovation are associated, not always in the most obvious ways, with each other and border-crossing can occur at the most unexpected - and resultingly breathtaking - moments. This is why the Montreal chapter executive hardly batted an eyelash when they decided to partner with fps for our most recent Animation Innovator event with stop-motion animator and director Mike Johnson. When it comes to animation, they can see the connections many seek to deny.

Every event I've ever attended has been interesting, and I expect no less tomorrow:

Wednesday, November 23rd at 6:00 p.m., Montreal ACM SIGGRAPH hosts Creating Digital Animation: Needs, Challenges, Technology and Tools at the Society for Arts and Technology. The night is sponsored by Toon Boom Animation.

If you've read fps issue 5, and you've been infected with the do-it-yourself spirit, you'll be interested in participating. The presentations will include a look of Toon Boom's tool suite (with a special emphasis on its latest product, which, in my personal opinion, is a wonderful tool for lone animators or animators working in small groups) and provide an alternative context for creating animation: the demoscene.

You know, last winter, Louis Marcoux of Autodesk explained the possibility that Quebec is such a hotbed of art, technology and its bastard children because for several consecutive months, it is just so cold that a higher proportion of the population is forced to stay indoors and find something interesting to tinker with or a creative outlet rather than go outside. Considering that the first demoparties were held in Scandinavian countries, and the first North American one was in Montreal, I think he might be on to something.

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