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Canterbury Anifest 2016

// Reviews (Festival)

anifest-tshirtsAfter a year off it was great to see Canterbury Anifest back in full swing over the past few days.  It is the largest animation festival of its kind in the South East and offers animation enthusiasts masterclasses, talks, screening and storyboarding / model making workshops all throughout the course of one weekend.  The festival has been running since 2007 by Canterbury Christ Church University, offering a broad range of topics for all animation lovers.

Day 1

To get things started, Friday began with an Animation and Comic Book Symposium.   It was a day of research in which academics presented papers and practice-based research presentations that reflected upon the ongoing and evolving relationship between animation and the comic book.  A keynote presentation was given by world-renowned animation scholar Professor Paul Wells of Loughborough University who presented: Punch to Pho: The Comfort of Caricature in British Comics and Cartoons.

Friday night saw the annual Anifest Awards Gala, a chance for the South East to see the cream of the crop of animated shorts and award the winners.  With an amazing 177 entrants to this year’s competition, the standard of films selected was incredibly high.  Here are the winners:

Audience Choice: Little Thing by Or Kan Do

Best British Film: Naughty Princess by Klaudia Smigielska, Zeno Pelgrims and Vasil Shotarov

Best International Film: Au Revoir Balthazar by by Rafael Sommerhalder

Best Student Film: Charlie et ses Grandes Dents by Esther Lalanne, Xing Yao, Valentin Sabin, Camille Verninas, Chao-Hao Yang

Best Animation: Light Sight by Seyed M. Tabatabaei

Best Art Design: Nino and Felix by Lorenzo Latrofa

Best Sound: Light Sight by Seyed M. Tabatabaei

Day 2

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Peter brought along a few freinds

Saturday kicked off with a nostalgic stroll through the pioneering work of Smallfilms.  Founding partner Peter Firmin was on hand to talk about his work on such films as Bagpuss, The Clangers, Ivor The Engine and so many other childhood favourites.  By his side was Dan Postgate, son of Oliver Postgate who past away in 2008.  Dan is also Executive Producer and Scriptwriter on the Bafta award winning remake of the The Clangers which landed on our screens in 2014 ready for a new generation.  A wave of warmth and nostalgia filled the room while Peter talked us through a lifetime of work.  There was real excitement in the air when he produced an original Clanger from a cardboard box along with a very familiar saggy old cloth cat.

Next up, festival director Dr Chris Pallant presented his own research in: ‘Anifest Insight’ – A History of Storyboarding Animation in which he gave a fascinating overview of the history of animation storyboarding. Chris shared many of the stories he uncovered during the research of his book: ‘Storyboarding: A Critical History’ (Chris Pallant and Steve Price, Palgrave, 2015).  The talk presented many new/original insights about the historical evolution of the storyboard, which helped enhance my understanding of the form.  He brought up an interesting debate about archiving storyboards in a digital age and the importance of preserving those elements for future historians to see the evolution of a story from sketch to final output.  The research presented was clearly of interest to the audience, and it is possible that this work could also have a wider, lasting impact in terms of how animators, animation fans, students, and scholars think about the role of storyboard.

Saturday afternoon brought Eamonn Butler, Head of Animation at Cinesite Studios.  He was on hand to discuss his career in the visual effects industry.  Eamonn discussed examples from Cinesite’s work over the past 18 months, including Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man, Spectre and Jurassic World.

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Steve Segal talks about his career

The final speaker of the day to bring his box of toys on stage was Pixar animator Steve Segal.  Steve was an animator on Toy Story and also worked on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Sesame Street, and a Disney World attraction. Between commercial gigs he has created a series of award-winning short animations.

During his talk he helds up a strip of 35mm film that contains one of his early Direct Animation films.  Steve encourages anyone in the audience not already familiar with the great Norman McLaren to look him up ASAP.  Throughout the day Steve was present at the festival happy to offer his thoughts and opinions during all of the events.  He brought with him a wealth of invaluable knowledge about the history of animation.

Day 3

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Teresa Gallagher, Jo Samuel & Dave Peacock

The third and final day of the Anifest extravaganza began with Teresa Gallagher and Dave Peacock: Thunderbirds Are Go! Octonauts, Peppa Pig, Thomas & Friends.  Teresa Gallagher is an extremely versatile voice artist, Dave Peacock an experienced voice director and recording engineer.  Together they have worked on: Thunderbirds Are Go, Octonauts, Jungle Book, Mr Men and many more.  The talk was guided by Animation Lecturer Jo Samuel and featured plenty of clips.

The next speaker was Bafta nominated film make and trustee of the Ray Harryhausen foundation, John Walsh.  He presented some never before seen images from Ray’s 50,000 item strong collection, the most complete and comprehensive fantasy cinema and animation collections anywhere in the world.  There was also a special HD screening of his film school documentary: Ray Harryhausen: Movement Into Life from 1990 in which Ray gave John an exclusive insight into cinema’s most famous monster creations and special effects secrets.  The film was narrated by Tom Baker star of Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) the year before he began his voyage in a certain blue police box.

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Festival director Dr Chris Pallant talks to Ty Johnson

The festival came drew to a close with one of the big hitters in animation on Sunday afternoon with Exploring the technological innovation of LAIKA: bringing stop-motion into the next century.  Ty Johnson reflected on seven years serving as Lead 3D Modeler and explains how LAIKA’s acclaimed Rapid Prototyping Department is bringing stop-motion storytelling into the next century. During the talk Ty brought out Kubo and Box Troll puppets to the audiences’ delight.

You can hear our interview with Peter Firmin and Dan Postgate on the Skwigly Animation Podcast below.

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