As technology and mediums continue to develop, animation persists in challenging and pushing the limits of the human imagination. At Variety‘s 10 Animators to Watch event presented by Nickelodeon, producers, directors and animators from various platforms and styles came together to discuss the future of animation and their own personal inspirations they’ve drawn from as creators.
Unity in the Universe of Animation
In her opening remarks, Ramsey Naito, the president of animation at Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, spoke to the theme of unity that is both prominent and pressing in the upcoming animated series “Star Trek: Prodigy.”
“This is an artistic and visually inspiring project that represents the perfect marriage of vision, imagination and storytelling,” Naito said. “Behind the action and adventure and the great stories is a message of unity that people from different backgrounds — and different planets, in this case — can come together and work together to be successful. That is what ‘Star Trek’ is all about.”
From Brothers to Collaborators
As both brothers and collaborators, Chris and Justin Copeland discussed the current projects they’re working on as they juggle feature films and television simultaneously. They also spoke to the joys and benefits of finally working together after having established their own animation careers separately.
“We have a great deal with [Dreamworks], where we are able to go back and forth between TV and feature,” Chris Copeland said. “And so right now, developing the feature definitely connected to our childhood and a lot of things that we grew up seeing and loving around us… It’s been really fun. Talk about an atmosphere that not only welcomes collaboration, but facilitates new versions of collaboration. So my brother and I coming in, being very new to the feature landscape, Dreamworks opened the door and was just like, ‘Let’s see what you guys want to do.’ And allowing us to really build in that way, it’s been really exciting.”
Stop Motion’s Small but Tight-Knit Community
Based in Antwerp, Belgium, the filmmaking duo Emma De Swaef and Marc Roels explained their passion-driven pursuit of physical animation, having explored and come into the scene of puppetry and stop motion together. Along the way, they found a community of other creators just like them.
“There’s a lot of contact in between all the animation people, especially there’s a few women in animation as we have a Facebook group that we share our experiences with,” said De Swaef. “We’re all trying to develop features, so we kind of share experiences with each other.”
“I mean it’s a tiny, little world in the animation sphere, the handmade stop motion style that we do,” said Roels. “We’ve found each other, and we really support each other and that’s really great.”
The Possibilities for Animation Are Bigger Than Ever
Directors, producers and animators Chris Miller and Phil Lord shared their thoughts on the future of animation as the medium continues to expand. Ultimately, it’s the changing zeitgeist and advancing technology that allows creators today to think out of the box and challenge the orthodox views of animation.
“People are more and more realizing animation is a medium and not a genre,” said Miller. “So that has allowed the type of work to be so much more distinct and different. I think the fact that the technology is getting more and more powerful that anything you can imagine is possible now, and people are excited to see it. Possibilities are so much more open now than when we first started.”
“The young people who feel compelled to do this work is a more inclusive group than it used to be,” noted Lord. “There’s, hopefully, more of a sense of belonging, and I think that’s really exciting.”