In case you're wondering.... I started writing this a couple of weeks ago under the title: "Temporary title". I got used to it, and don't feel like coming up with something else.
Every year around this time, for the past... well, it's been awhile, and I'm too lazy to look through my old blog posts... we'll just say several years, I've posted a recap of the Character Animation shows I edit together as part of my job at CalArts.
Some random website thinks we're one of the best animation schools in the (insert region here)!
And so does Variety! Because if you're going to make a choice of the college you're going to attend to determine the path you're going to follow for the rest of your life, the first resource you think of checking is Variety! (Because they're boffo.)
Right. So anyway, here's last year's blog post.
Basically, it's the same thing this year, with a few little changes.
First, the number of films plummeted this year. From our record high of 192 last year, all the way down to 190. Circle the wagons! We're dooooomed!!
Seriously though... I long for the good ol' days when we only produced around 160 films per year.
Two years ago.
Ah.... memories. Good times. Good times...
This year, the Open Show was on April 27th. That's when we ran everything the students turn in. Despite fewer films, the length of the show actually went up by over an hour. 8 hours, and 7 minutes of films. And (unlike Avengers: Endgame) we actually threw a few intermissions in there, so the whole show ran just over 9 hours, start to finish.
I'm pleased to report though, that the show went off without a hitch, or any reported deaths. Canon also generously loaned us one of their amazing WUX7000Z laser projectors. The picture quality was absolutely amazing, especially for being thrown over 100 feet to a 20-foot-wide screen, in a space with terrible ambient light issues. The picture was vivid, bright, and had terrific black levels.
I didn't take any photos at the show this year, because I was too tired by the time the show rolled around to remember to do so. This despite shaving some 13 hours off of my usual 90 hour work week, thanks to having my counterpart in the Experimental Animation program help me go through and check specs and audio levels on the submitted films (thanks Michael!).
Anyway, once that show was done, we moved onto our second show on May 8th - The Producers' Show. This is a faculty-curated "best of" that we show to the animation industry. This year, because the films were a little bit longer, we ended up at only 19 films for an hour-and-a-half show. That's only 10% of the submitted films. Pretty rarified air.
This year, we were back at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills (our first time since 2012). This is the theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Yeah - the Oscars. Now, this isn't the theater where they hold the Oscars telecast, but this is where they do a lot of industry screenings and events. So it is a nice theater. We had about 730 people there (not 900, as reported elsewhere), which is about 100 more than we can usually stuff into the theaters we've been in before. But the Directors Guild of America (our usual haunt in recent years) is undergoing renovations, so we had to move. The Goldwyn itself had been renovated recently, and is currently probably the best screening facility in Los Angeles. The sound and picture were incredible. Best of all, the theater projectionist there complimented us on our DCP, and said, "If we were putting it together, that's exactly how we would've done it." Now that's some pretty sweet validation. (We're using DCP-o-matic, which is the best solution we've found to date. And it has the added benefit of being free.)
Here's a write up on CalArts' blog about this year's Producers' Show.
And here's a write up that Animation Magazine copied from the write up on CalArts' blog.
Something not mentioned in either article, nor shown in the dearth of photos available for it, was one of the coolest things to happen that evening. Bob Persichetti, CalArts alum and Oscar-winning co-director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was the Guest of Honor at the show. Usually, the Guest of Honor gives a motivational speech talking about their work, their time at CalArts, and encourages students to go out and change the world through the power of cartoons. Then they announce our annual awards given to three of the student films as selected by the faculty, Vimeo, and the students themselves. Then the students come up, get handed the award and are congratulated by the guest of honor, and make acceptance speeches in front of some 600 people.
But Oscar don't play that.
You see, there's a rule at the Goldwyn. You can't hand out any awards there. The only awards that can be handed out at that theater, are Oscars. I think that's where they hand out the Oscars that aren't shown on the main Oscars award telecast.
Anyway, when we were there in 2012, we cut out that entire part of the program. The Guest of Honor came up and spoke, but we did nothing about the awards. The students couldn't go up and make any speeches, we didn't announce them, nothing. We just put simple title cards before each film, noting what they'd won (they were also listed in the program).
At the time, that's all we thought we could do. This time, we did a little more digging, and asked how fine we could actually split those hairs. As it turned out, the theater was very accommodating. We could introduce the winners, congratulate them, and even let them do their speeches - as long as it was all in the past tense. "So-and-so won the award for such-and-such". We couldn't hand out the awards, but we could say they'd already won them, and they could do their speeches, get congratulated by Bob and the whole bit.
So that was pretty cool. But it's not what was coolest.
You see, Bob had his own plan. Unbeknownst to anyone.
Bob did his speech, introduced the first student winner, and as the student came up to the podium, Bob reached into a bag, and handed them... his Oscar. Each student, in turn, got to hold a real Oscar. Bob's own Best Animated Feature Oscar, which he won for directing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
How's that for motivation?
How much trouble we got into for that... I have no idea. The Oscar people take their Oscar stuff very, very seriously. One of the rules they have, is that we can't have any images of the Oscar in any of the official photos for the event. Now, this is already tough enough given that there are two huge Oscar statues flanking the stage. But now, every photo we have of the students on stage also has an actual Oscar in it. So apparently, we can't use any of them.
Fortunately, tons of people had cellphones, and were taking their own photos. So I'm pretty sure there are photos out there somewhere.
So then... on with the cartoons!
As always, many of our student films are posted on Vimeo: 2019 CalArts Character Animation films on Vimeo
And of course, I've posted quite a few of them here as well. (Note: Some language may be NSFW.)
First up: the films of the 2019 Producers' Show (note: some films may not be online, or may become password protected at some point):
2019 Walter and Gracie Lantz Animation Prize Winner:
2019 Vimeo Award Winner:
2019 Peers' Pick Winner:
Chapter One: The Party
Everything is Fine
Ticket to Limbo
hair today, gone tomorrow
Witches And Their Worries
Taku & Mama
A Day in the Life
Beyond the Producers' Show, here are some of my favorite films from the Open Show:
At the Zoo
On The Road
Room for Two