CG Snails and Rat Slither to SIGGRAPH

Animated shorts about a New York city rat and two lovelorn mechanical snails have received the top honors for SIGGRAPH 2006. The Computer Animation Festival’s content as well as Best of Show Award and Jury Honors were revealed yesterday.The animation jury selected 97 films and two award winners from 726 entries for exemplary use of computer-generated imagery and animation, and compelling storytelling.

Alex Weil’s One Rat Short (Charlex) was chosen as the Best Of Show award by the the animation jury. The short follows a rat from his gritty world to the interior of a futuristic lab, as he finds love, danger and his final fate!

“Inspired by the melancholic and innocent spirit of The Red Balloon, the original goal of the film was to grow the company’s CG department,’ notes Weil. ‘However, it quickly grew into so much more. The scenes take place in two worlds. One is gritty and so dark that the viewer needs to peer into the screen to make out the images. In contrast, the second world is sterile, white, and so brightly lit that the viewer feels the need to turn away from the screen. One of our goals was to keep the scenes as real as possible by using camera work that provided a ‘hand-held’ feel to keep behind the action so the scenes did not seem staged. Further, perhaps our most important goal was to create a simple, yet riveting piece that was full of heart.”

The Special Jury Honors award went to 458nm, a short about a pair of mechanical snails that find each other under the moonlight, directed by Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck and Tom Weber of Germany’s Filmakademie Baden-W’rttemberg.

“It was pivotal to recognize that the difficulty of the project lay in identifying a piece that would creatively and technically satisfy and challenge three people,’ note the artists. ‘From the beginning, we were fascinated by the beauty and impression of snails moving and ‘kissing’ each other. After much discussion, we decided to adopt this as our focus for the next four months. We wanted the music to play the same role as the images. Neither could be without the other. These components had a very strong influence on our working process.”

Siggraph’s CG animation fest is an internationally recognized event that engages and inspires artists and technologists alike. ‘Each year,’ says an org press release, ‘it serves as a mirror of what is possible today and a window into what can be achieved in the future.’

“Word is out that the festival is one of the premier venues for showcasing artistic talent in the film world,’ says Terrence Masson, the Siggraph 2006 Computer Animation Festival chair. ‘In fact, we witnessed a remarkable 25% increase in submissions from 2005 to 2006. With that increase the competition amongst films is fierce .The bar of excellence has risen even higher and this year’s crop of accepted pieces is diverse, thought-provoking, and technically superb.”

As always the Electronic and Animation Theaters offer a wide variety of professional and student animation and cutting-edge visual effects. Among the highlights are a new presentation reel by ILM and sneaks of upcoming animated features such as Monster House, Open Season and Everyone’s Hero.

This year, the show has moved from Los Angeles and will be held in at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Mass., July 30 thru August 3. For more info visit www.siggraph.org/s2006.