Thursday, 5 November 2009

Pre-production, post-its and pitching

One of the highlights of the past few days was an improvisation workshop with Dörthe Eickelberg. We looked at theatrical improvisation, creating characters, walks, physicalities and how these can be used for storytellers. I spent a lot of my theatrical trainging doing this kind of work so it was great to go back to it and relate it to filmmaking and creating characters and stories for animation. It's a very free, creative way of working and also really helped the group to bond. I think these techniques are also useful for bringing together a team, a group of people working on a film, discovering a common language and perhaps, more importantly establishing a sense of humour.

We had a really interesting session with Kim Bjørnqvist who's background lies in the cut-throat world of advertising and he had lots of entertaining stories to tell us. We had him for two days and the time was really spent looking at models for effectively developing and realising ideas aswell as pitching and presentation. We looked at structures from Disney and other companies and various methods of thinking, target audiences and research before consuming plenty of post it notes for huge ideas generation sessions.

Another interesting presentation was about stereoscopic 3d, existing and emergent technologies, what this means for cinema and how it can be harnessed and used effectively within animation. This session was taken by François Garnier, a leader in this field who joined us after a shoot with Wim Wenders in another part of Germany. He talked a lot about the science and technicalities of how stereoscopy works and it's interesting history. It turns out that the basic 3d image has been around since photography began and that filmmakers such as Méliès, Eisenstein and Hitchcock all made stereoscopic films.
He gave us insight into how 3d work is being used in theme parks and the kind of complicated experiences that are being created, the results are stunning and we watched several stereoscopic films as part of the presentation, some made by his students, some visualization from theme park rides as well as 3d animated films.

He had a lot of interesting ideas on the future of the technology saying "3d is sometimes not the best way to tell a story but rather to experience the story". He did not seem to think that 3d is the way forward for all cinema. He said that the craze we are currently experiencing is transitory and that the technique will find its place more in augmented reality, instalation and other forms as well as cinema. The day really got me thinking about the various uses for this technology and he actually gave us a relatively simple demonstration of how to make a stereoscopic film using the old red and blue glasses method as opposed to the new polarized 3d which he also took us through. Note to self: DIY stereoscopic stop motion student film?

The last workshop was with Alex Mayhew who interestingly was a researcher at the International Film School Wales and made some work there. He was talking to us about media strategies and ways of thinking about content travelling across various platforms and how these inform each other. We had a workshop in the afternoon where we generated ideas on these grounds and then pitched them as projects. All this pitching practice is great and I really feel like I'm getting a lot from what I'm learning.

Image: Aardman Animations
In other news Wallace and Gromit are celebrating their twentieth aniversary, and as part of the celebrations The Culture Show in UK will be broadcasting a special episode live from Aardman's studios in Bristol. Further information here.

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