Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Foux du Fafa - Annecy

I think Annecy International Animation Festival is probably a bit like Mecca for animators - everyone working in the industry should make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lives. 

Almost 7000 animators descend on Annecy each year.

This was my first trip and it was more of a recce mission than anything else. There is so much to see that it definitely takes a bit of planning to make sure you get to see or do everything you want. One person I met there said it takes at least 3 trips before you really "get it". The programme is so jam-packed, I often found myself sitting in the theatre already thinking about where I had to get to next or what I was missing out on at one of the other venues dotted around the old village.

 THE picturesque Annecy picture

I tried to cover my bases, and get in at least one show from each of the programmes - shorts, graduation shorts, features, TV films etc but unfortunately I missed the commissioned shorts so did not see either of the two South African animations in competition. I'm sorry not to have been there for the audience response because it's got to be one of the only places in the world where a piece of animation gets such a lively round of applause. 

I was surprised to find that of the animations that I saw, many of the pieces EITHER had a great concept or script OR they looked great with a strong visual design (mostly the latter).  Not many stood out as having both and although there were some incredible shorts in the competition, personally, I found none of them stood out for me as on obvious winner. There were without a doubt some stunning pieces, but I think I must be missing something, because the short that won special distinction (the same category as The Blackheart Gang's prize piece last year) just seemed crude in comparison, and maybe I was tired but I just found the grand winner long and in need of a bit of an edit. I left the festival feeling encouraged about the standard of animation coming out of South Africa and I'm sure we would get more of a name for ourselves if more local animators were to enter their pieces into all the festivals around the world.

A growing focus at Annecy seems to be on animated feature films and I got to see quite a few. The first was The Story of Mr Sorry which was a bizarre but intriguing film from South Korea. Impressively, it was actually made in 14 months as a student project. 

I'm always happy when stop-motion makes a come-back, so I was especially glad to see stop-motion came out strong this year with Mary and Max tied best feature with Coraline. From the opening shots of Mary and Max you know that this is not going to be a standard animated feature, and in typical Adam Elliott style, it proved to be something much more subtle and sophisticated using quirky characters and magical moments that build to create a moving film that will stay with you for quite some time. ( I visited the director, Adam Elliott, in Melbourne a few years ago - he was working on the storyboard at the time, so it was a special moment to meet him once again as well as see the completed film)

The Audience Award winner, Brendan and the Secret of the Kells was incredibly stylish with a very strong 2D visual design, and although the story was interesting and it had some beautiful moments, I found the end a bit of an anticlimax. I still hope it makes it to local screens though - I realised how many independent animation movies we miss out on here.

I managed to get his one blurry shot before my camera died - typical.

Besides watching many many films, a lot of my time was also spent at the Conferences where a number of high-profile people (including the legendary Henry Selick) spoke about their companies and projects. Since we are probably going to be doing both Zambezia and Khumba in stereoscopic 3D, a special discussion on this was particularly interesting. Another presentation on various case-studies of feature films including the 3D aspect of Monsters Vs Aliens was also very useful. 

Director Conrad Vernon signing posters. Got one :)

The making of the Tale of Despareaux was also very insightful especially the production designer Evgeni Tomov who also did Triplettes of Belville amongst others. I missed the Pixar presentation, but I did go to a talk by Bob Peterson co-director and co-writer of Up who spoke about a research trip they took to the Tepuis in Venezuala and it was very interesting to see how their experiences translated into the final film. Other talks from nWave, Buf, Lux animation and a number of others were all inspiring, informative and encouraging - and I left the conferences feeling encouraged about our own process and our own projects. 

Festival pro Bill Plympton

There is a whole other, social, side to the festival, but by the time I was done filling my brain with so much information and visual overload everyday, and with a looong, uphill cycle to my hotel awaiting each night I was quite happy to turn in sober. Maybe next time. Ah Annecy, au revoir.

Oh, here's a hint to anyone wanting to go next year: you need to know a few more French words than you can learn from one song in Flight of the Conchords.

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Storyboard read-through

Triggerfish recently invited a group of children to a slideshow of the storyboard progress on its current feature film, Zambezia. A good time was had by all and this quite discerning audience quickly gave us a clear idea of how well we are getting our story across. The verdict was an excited thumbs up.

Wayne Thornley, the director gets into character.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Triggerfish is hiring for Africa’s biggest Animated Feature Film, Zambezia

Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studio is expanding its team for the production of "Zambezia", a pioneering CG animated feature to be produced in Africa. 

Imagine if birds could build a city, an African city…. These were the seed ideas that started an epic journey to create the biggest animated film ever made in Africa.

We believe story is paramount, therefore, since the completion of the pilot animation, a team of scriptwriters including international consultants such as Kiel Murray (Pixar), who has worked on some of the best animated stories ever written, have been perfecting the script .  We are now ready to go into production.

And now is your chance to become part of this exciting project!

We are looking to fill a wide variety of positions to build up our team of skilled and passionate individuals. We also have short term consultancy positions for very experienced individuals who may not need to be involved in the entire production timetable. The length of contract and salary will depend on the position and the applicants' experience. 

If you are interested in working on this ground-breaking project, please fill out the online application form at www.triggerfish.co.za/jobs. You must have an online portfolio, showreel or website.

Applicants should have a South African identity document and be prepared to relocate to Cape Town for the duration of their contract, as we prefer to keep our team onsite.We apologize that due to the volume of submissions we will be unable to personally respond to each applicant or inquiry. If your application is successful, we will contact you. 

Please don't: 

send inappropriate or plagiarized material 

show work you don't want to be asked to do 

show work that shouldn't be reviewed yet. 

submit original works (we are unable to return materials sent to us).

Production team:

Production manager

Human Resource Officer

Assistant to Director

Office Manager

Director of photography


Assistant Editor

Art Department team:

Storyboard artists

Art director

Concept artists

Modeling team:

Lead character modeler

Lead props modeler


Rigging team:

Lead rigger



Lead texture artist

Texture artists

Layout and animation team:

Layout artists

Lead Animators

Mid-level Animators

Junior animators

Lighting team:

Lighting supervisor

Lighting artist

Assistant Lighting artists

Compositing and Effects team:

Lead Effects artist

Effects artists


Assistant compositors

Technical team:

Software developer

Systems admin and Render manager

Feel free to visit www.zambeziamovie.com to view the pilot.

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