Siggraph’s Electronic Theater’Archaic Name, Cutting Edge Content

The name may sound like it was dreamed up by Thomas Edison, but Siggraph’s annual electronic theater seems to get bolder every year. This year’s frame, which debuted Tuseday night, is no exception.

Continuing on from 2002, when Sony Pictures Imageworks uncorked its eventual Academy Award-winning short The ChubbChubbs!, the 28 works on display this year offer exceptional technology and top-notch storytelling. The Siggraph jury, headed by Digital Domain’s Darin Grant, singled out two films in particular. Eternal Gaze, a biographical portrait of sculptor Alberto Giacometti, created by filmmaker Sam Chen, was named best animated short. Tim Tom, directed by Romain Segaud and Christel Pougeoise from the French CG studio Supinfocom, landed jury honors. “The jury loved Eternal Gaze," says Siggraph animation theater director Jill Smolin and 2003 jury member. “It’s very well thought-out, it’s cinematic, and it was made by one person.”

Imageworks, last year’s best animated-short Oscar recipient, has Kevin Johnson’s Early Bloomer in the EC this year. As with The ChubbChubbs!, Bloomer had a theatrical release, in this case attached to the run of the early 2003 Eddie Murphy vehicle Daddy Daycare. The theatrical release automatically qualifies the pic for Oscar 2004 consideration. The industry bizz is that Bloomer has stronger storytelling and more traditional appeal than ChubbChubbs!

Audience favorites at this year’s frame include work by proven industry filmmakers. Blue Sky Studios’ Gone Nutty, starring Scrat, the miserly and unlikely squirrel seen in 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age, left the crowd doubled over with laughter, as did Passion Pictures’ Polar Bears: Gary’s Fall, about the misadventures of a captive bear after his concrete zoo pool has been emptied.