I'm now back from the bradford animation festival. It was sic. I cant wait to go to more festivals.

So I've got the festival schedule and a few tickets from my favourite events to remind me what I loved best. The first day was one fo the best, we got to see the extraordinarily high standard of student films of which several are worth noting. Bruce ended up winning the best student film award, stylistically it was slick, and it was a clever satire of the principles behind videogaming, though had a weak ending some thought. Then project alpha: a CGI comedy about the first monkey into space which was engaging and funny with a story exploring the animal instincts in all of us despite the conditioning we undergo. The highly unoriginal and cliche Catharsis was perhaps the most accomplished in aspiring to a specific style (anime), too many films about car crashes though. Operatatatata was hilarious, hyperbolic and well executed in its drama and use of music. Urs i had already heard of and was looking forward to seeing, it was really interesting artistically but a little mundane in the narrative department, though I did find myself caring for the characters in a more conventional way than any of the other films.

That night the first feature was screened- "Mary & Max". It blew my mind, the naive perspective of the child allows the audience to connect with the emotional journey of the films two main characters. Thats the beauty of animation, Mary & Max could handle the themes of mental disease in such a way that it was comic, but not mocking, and powerful, but not preachy. An authentic representation of day to day worries but displayed in the context of an entire lifetime. The narrative cleverly jumps around between the two characters and their pasts through the letters they exchange and the dialogue of each overlaid on the flashbacks. A thing of beauty. Another australian film, from melbourne this time. So many Australian animations, French too.

Coraline next, in 3D! The best way to sum it up is exquisite. Four years in the making, from the director of Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick) and the original novel by Neil Gaimen who is an excellent writer. Nice to see a reasonably mainstream stop motion film not side stepping the darker sides of the narrative. What was really interesting was the presentation by the Visual Effects Supervisor Brain Van't Hul the next day. He outlined the challenges of shooting in 3D, things like interocular distance, depth, painting out the cracks in the models faces from two different perspectives without it looking like a patch floating in front of the face. The compositing used to create the fog for the characters to interect with, each wisp having been shot at 100fps and then matched to the movements that the animators had shot. What was mildly irritating was the pretentious attitude of the director towards CGI when it came to things that would have been easier with CGI and looked indentical but he wanted it his way for no good reason. Like the mice performance for instance. pointless. Especially when they were already using Maya to block out animation for the characters faces, then using this to create resin parts for the actual models. Hypocritical? Hmm...still, inspiring stuff.

Then there was the gaming stuff, we missed most of it during our day of travel, which was irritating. But I did get to see Erik Svedäng's Blueberry Garden talk, or the second half at least. He was a little arrogent, but had some interesting ideas and reasons for making games, namely because he didnt like the games people were currently making. Flower anybody? Heavy Rain? No? still, nice to see, I will be checking out the demo.

Also was a guy from Hello Games (Shaun something), an independant studio made up guys from Criterion etc. Really interesting talk and an insightful look into the timing and processes of game development, wholy unoriginal concept though, but well executed. He talked about stuff like middleware, porting, propriortary physics sytems, animation, assets, check ins, lines of code. Some of it made sense, some of it was beyond me. What was depressing was the cowd, the average gamer, it turns out, is a completely unartistic, unimaginative and undiscerning retard. One guy asked the same question in every talk: "how much did it cost?" ok...wtf, its irrelevant in the long run, if you want it enough, you'll just do it! I worry about the industry, perhaps as Erik does, I fear it may never grow into its potential, that people will ignore the possabilities and continue to make sequals to first person shooters forever...

Now I'm home again. and I want to do something creative more than ever.