Angoulême Energized by Toons and Tech Talk

A lively debate on the current state of 2D animation, presented by veteran animation director Tom Sito (Shrek, Looney Tunes: Back in Action), kicked off the Annual Forum for Animation Technologies in Angoulême, France, yesterday. Organized by Magelis, an economic development program centered on the industries, technologies and trades in the visual sector. The animation studios in Angoulême have been playing an important role in the production of animated TV series, shorts and features such as Kirikou and the Sorcerer and The Belleville Triplets.

Following Sito’s presentation, animator Kyle Balda (A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2), Pierre Coffin (BBC’s Polar Bears), Benoit Feroumont (Belleville Triplets) and Isaac Kerlow, director of digital production at Disney, discussed the evolution of 3D character animation in the past year.

Friday’s sessions included a look at how various TV production houses are incorporating digital technology such as Flash and After Effects with their own proprietary tools to increase productivity and create more streamlined workflow. Director Pascal David previewed a new series, which incorporates rotoscope technology with new digital tools, similar to the 2002 Richard Linklater feature Waking Life. Titled Delta State, the 26×26 co-production of Alphanim and Nelvana will premiere on Canal Plus in spring 2004. The sci-fi project centers on a group of teens with extra sensory perceptive powers, and displays a unique, ultra-cool sophisticated vibe. Think The X-Files meets Wallpaper magazine for the MTV audience.

As Alphanim president Christian Davin explains, the Angoulême Forum has become a perfect place for animators and producers to share ideas and the latest news about toon technologies. "Technologies are constantly evolving," he notes. "What’s interesting to us is how everyone is using them to increase the output and meet the expectations of both audiences and broadcasters. For us, it’s not a question of 2D versus 3D. It’s really about how digital technologies are enhancing the look of traditional animation."

The Forum continues through Saturday, with a presentation about the making of Finding Nemo, by Pixar’s Andy Schmidt, and a screening and presentation of the new feature Le Chien, Le General et les Oiseaux (The Dog, the General and the Birds) by director Francis Nielsen.