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A Decade of Innovation in the Arts: Part IV


by Stephen Becker 30 Dec 2009

Guest blogger Bryan Engram is the Director of Animation at Reel FX Creative Studios. He concludes our look back at major innovations in the arts during the ’00s with his thoughts on how crowd sourcing has changed filmmaking: Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen great advancements in CGI and computer animation. […]

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Guest blogger Bryan Engram is the Director of Animation at Reel FX Creative Studios. He concludes our look back at major innovations in the arts during the ’00s with his thoughts on how crowd sourcing has changed filmmaking:

Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen great advancements in CGI and computer animation. In Monsters Inc., we saw advancements in CG hair with the character of Sully. CG water progressed with Finding Nemo. And motion-capture technology moved forward through the Lord of the Rings trilogy and more recently in Avatar.

Though these advancements are fantastic and have completely changed the quality of the work being done in feature films, one thing that I believe has changed the animation industry the most in the past decade are advancements in the way that animators work together across the globe. Technology has given artists the ability to work from anywhere, and that has caused a complete paradigm shift in the way that studios use talent all over the world in order to fulfill their vision.

Reel FX has recognized this trend for years and has created a proprietary people and pipeline management tool called INSIGHT that is an interesting example of this technology. Not only can our studio work from anywhere in the world, but we can work with anyone outside the studio, including animators, clients and other partners who can be granted INSIGHT access. The ability to make movies this way has changed the game of animation and now allows studios to cast a wide net to find their talent anywhere. This simultaneously provides a way for undiscovered talent to potentially showcase their skills and take advantage of opportunities they might not have otherwise had for exposure.

A recent and timely example of crowd sourcing in animation is the short film Live Music, which recently screened in theaters everywhere before the movie Planet 51. Live Music brought together talented animators from around the world by providing the platform and assets they need to work on a singular animated short. It was the brainchild of Yair Landau, the former President of Sony Pictures Digital. Partnering along with Landau and Reel FX were Intel, Facebook, Autodesk and Aniboom. Animators could submit their version of any shot in the film, and the members on Facebook got to vote on the best version of that particular shot. Once all the submissions were in and votes were cast, the director (Yair Landau) and a panel of judges chose the winner of the shot and the animator then had a chance to directly work with a professional animation supervisor at Reel FX in order to bring the shot to completion.

Live Music proved to be extremely successful, and now Reel FX and the Mass Animation crew have teamed up with Sony Online Entertainment to bring a new Facebook contest to the animation community called DC Universe Online. DC Universe Online is a 90-second game cinematic featuring our favorite superheroes, where world animators will again have a chance to animate their shots from home and then upload them, allowing the world of Facebook to vote on the best shots for the game cinematic set to air in time for E3. It is looking to be yet another example of the power of social networking and how it has changed the world of animation.

Take a look at the Mass Animation Web site to get a sneak peek, or become a fan on Facebook.

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  • Sadly the glitter of new technology has hid the bad quality of the art underneath it. Mainstream animation films from any of the Big Six, for example are safe generic and bland – with messages so bleached that they say nothing except buy tickets.
    http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main
    The exciting animation is the independent video makers on youtube, which has become the world’s biggest film company. Ex. poem videos, an entirely new type of short filmmaking.
    Then too the mainstream media can’t promote their advertisers enough – read puff reviews for major film companies – and will never dare ask a tough question. Ex. a 100 million dollar film budget could end poverty in any mid sized country. Is it better to have another bland summer sequel with special effects, or end poverty in a part of the world?
    The major filmmakers are likely to go the way of the major music companies. Good riddance to bad pompous films. Talk about that.