You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sending toons to cyberspace

The last time the Los Angeles Intl. Animation Celebration (the precursor to the current World Animation Celebration) was held, back in 1991, Windows 3.1 had not been released, the World Wide Web was not operational, barely anyone had heard of America Online and the Internet was still a well-kept secret, used primarily by universities and nerds.

But in six years, all that has changed, as the emergence of digital technology has completely transformed the animation workplace, with most artists today as likely to pick up a computer mouse as a pencil. Recognizing the need for the World Animation Celebration to address the constantly changing technical landscape, WAC founder Terry Thoren decided to approach magazine publisher and tradeshow organizer Miller Freeman — whose stable of print titles includes six magazines that focus on digital technology — to ask them to take charge of the festival’s high-tech coverage.

“It made sense to approach Miller Freeman,” Thoren says. “They publish digital technology magazines and are in the business of creating tradeshows, so it was a perfect synergy for them to run the high-tech portion of the event. We expect these events to become part of something big and be a regular part of the World Animation Celebration each year.”

The Miller Freeman people responded by organizing a series of events to run throughout WAC week. From interactive demonstrations of how to create Internet animation to the Intensive Internet Colloquium — focusing on how the Internet and cyberspace have affected the industry — to the inclusion of three new high-tech categories in the event’s centerpiece film festival, high-tech topics will abound during the event.

But the central focus of WAC’s high-tech coverage is the New Animation Technology Exposition (NATE), a combined tradeshow and seminar package spanning three days. Starting with a keynote address from ground-breaking film effects animator John Van Vliet, NATE offers showgoers dozens of training sessions, all conducted by animation industry professionals. Despite the event’s name, NATE’s course offerings are not all for computer wizards. They will cover a wide range of animation topics, both high- and low-tech, ranging from basics of character animation to highly technical instruction about how to use some of today’s powerful animation software tools. The overall point, organizers say, is to emphasize that computers, and digital technology in general, should be utilized as tools by animators, without sacrificing the crucial creative elements that make quality animation special.

This even-handedness in the NATE curriculum pleasesVan Vliet, who appreciates the strengths of the digital tools, but also emphasizes the need to retain appreciation for more traditional animation techniques.

“Artists should be using computers as tools, instead of the computers using the artists as tools,” Van Vliet says. “For character animators, wielding a pencil is still a fundamental skill.”

To computer animator Alec Lindsay, one of this year’s seminar presenters, these types of gatherings are an invaluable way to gain experience and get real-life solutions to problems both common and obscure. “I don’t have a degree at all. … Nearly all of my education is from conferences and seminars,” Lindsay says. “These seminars aren’t some professor’s idea about what he thinks will work; these are pros talking about what they do.”

(Michael Goldman contributed to this report.)

More Scene

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

  • Director Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures THEY

    Peter Jackson Talks Transition From 'Hobbit' Movies to World War I Documentary

    Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I. Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • Children's Defense Fund

    Angela Bassett, Conan O'Brien Honor Young Students at Children's Defense Fund Gala

    Awards season may be right around the corner, but on Thursday, Hollywood took a break from the glitz and glam to celebrate five high school students who have excelled academically despite facing extreme adversity both at home and in the classroom. The 29th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center featured [...]

  • Dolly Parton attends the world premiere

    Dolly Parton Hopes to Perform 'Dumplin'' Song at the Golden Globes

    It’s not easy to upstage Jennifer Aniston. But everyone at Thursday night’s premiere of her new Netflix flick, “Dumplin’,” seemed to be singing the praises of Dolly Parton, who earlier in the day received a Golden Globe nomination for “Girl in the Movies,” one of half a dozen new songs she wrote for the film. [...]

  • Lena WaitheVariety's Power of Women, Arrivals,

    Who Lena Waithe Thinks Should Replace Kevin Hart as Oscar Host

    Lena Waithe thinks Kevin Hart could have handled his Oscar debacle in a much better way. “I kind of wish that he would have taken a moment to let it be a teachable moment and to say, ‘Hey, what I said wasn’t right and I want to make that right,’ not just to keep the [...]

  • Christie Brinkley32nd Annual Footwear News Achievement

    Christie Brinkley at 64: 'Women My Age Cannot Allow the Numbers to Define Them'

    Christie Brinkley may be turning 65 next year, but don’t you dare try to tell her what she should — or shouldn’t — wear. “I think women my age cannot allow the numbers to define them. We need to constantly redefine the number,” Brinkley told Variety on Tuesday at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in New [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content