Report from e-magiciens 2005

While their American counterparts were diving into turkey and mashed potatoes, young European artists converged on Valenciennes in northern France last week to give thanks for the digital technologies that allow them to produce their art. The seventh annual e-magicians festival of European digital creation, organized by the Valenciennes Chamber of Commerce and Industry, concluded on Friday, Nov. 25, with a best of 2005 animated short film screening and awards presentation, capping off three days of workshops, meetings, debates, exhibitions and more.

The festival’s “Coups de C’ur” awards honor a diverse offering of works from students and other young digital creators from all over Europe. Last year, Supinfocom Valenciennes graduates Oury Atlan, Thibault Berland and Damien Ferrie won big with the bittersweet CG-animated short, Overtime, which went on to win a number of awards around the world. One of this year’s standout films was The End from Maxine Leduc, Michel Samreth and Martin Ruyant, also from Supinfocom Valenciennes. The black-and-white tale of a scarecrow who is imprisoned for being too kind to birds made the Best-Of list, but was curiously shut out when the awards were announced. Also neglected was the wonderful Clik-Clak, which has two robots teaching a young boy to communicate through inventive sounds. That one was created by Aur’lie Fr’chinos, Victor-Emmanuel Moulin and Thomas Wagner from Supinfocom Arles in the south of France.

Local students to make good included Fran’ois Roisin, Jules Janaud and Rapha’l Martinez-Bachel, whose existential Supinfocom Valenciennes graduate short, 90′, was recognized with the Press Award and the Public Award, presented by Laura Dohrmann of NVIDIA. Meanwhile, Supinfocom Arles grads Thomas L’onard, Guillaume Marques and Paul Jacamon walked away with the SACEM Special Distinction for Production for their Cafard.

ENSAD Animation had the best showing during the awards ceremony. Winning films from the school included Val’rie Pirson’s Pistache (SCAM Award); David Devaux, Marc Enot and Jean Tr’buchet’s Dernier Hurlement (SACEM Award for Production and Soundtrack); and Etienne Chaillou’s Les Oreilles N’ont Pas de Paupi’res (Vertice Award). In addition, Luis Nieto from ENSAD-AII picked up the Press Special Distinction and Canal + Award for Carlitopolis. Rounding out the list of winners was the Royal College of Art, London entry Sleep With the Fishes by Belle Mellor, which won the Mikros Image Award.

Another important feature of e-magiciens is the chained animation program, which saw a handful of different teams working on individual parts of a short film that was assembled at the end of the festival. Each team was responsible for producing 10 seconds of 2D or 3D animation based on the theme ‘Little Seductions in Everyday Life.’ This year, the teams were given short clips of music to animate to as well. The chained animation was done in conjunction with a web jam, which had another set of teams working around the clock for three days to produce interactive websites that explore the subject of skin as it relates to a digital environment.

Professionals presenting at e-magiciens this year included Tom Downs and Alan Short from Studio Aardman, who participated in a program on animation and special effects with MacGuff Ligne founder Jacques Bled, Industrial Light & Magic lead research and development engineer Christophe Henry and Mikros Image matte painter Christophe Courgeau. There were also product demonstrations of NVIDIA’s GPU’accelerated film rendering and lighting solutions, Gelato and Sorbetto, and Digital Domain’s D2 Software compositing tool, Nuke.

Attendes were also treated to a 20 Anniversary screening of works from Les Gobelins School and an evening of Scandinavian Animation presented by Timothy Leborgne from The Animation Workshop in Denmark. e-magiciens is held every year at the Phoenix Theater in the northern French city of Valenciennes. More information on the festival can be found at www.e-magiciens.com.