If you’ve been following Animation Magazine online, you already know that we had a terrific turnout at our 2013 World Animation & VFX Summit, which was held at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey. Talk about a room with a view! We couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining and inspiring keynote speakers, panelist and attendees. We had terrific sunny skies, lots of stimulating conversations and great food and company! Here are some of the highlights of the four-day event (Nov. 3-6):
Tom Kenny Is God: Can someone please hire Tom Kenny to host every award show in town? The man, who has been voicing SpongeBob SquarePants for the past 14 years, is also one of the funniest, most gracious and genuine stars in town. He did such a wonderful job of hosting the Sunday night awards, which featured the likes of voice legend June Foray, ILM’s CCO John Knoll, DQ CEO Tapaas Chakravarti, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios’ John Harvatine IV, Matthew Senreich and Eric Towner and talented DreamWorks’ directors and writers Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco.
Finding the Right Presenter is Half the Fun! Thanks to all the good people who worked hard to match our honorees with just the right people to give them this year’s awards. Here’s a big shout-out to the top-level talent who showed up at our event to introduce the honorees and give them their trophies: We’re talking the always-glowing Toon Boom president Joan Vogelsang, the down-to-earth Mr. Mega-Producer Jon Landau (Avatar, Titanic), Mr. Peabody and Sherman exec producer Tiffany Ward (yup, that’s Jay’s awesome daughter) and the two-time Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener. We are still trying to figure out what Catherine’s speech was all about, but man, she sure can brighten a room with her million dollar smile. How many other actresses do you know who were in five movies in 2013 alone (The Croods, Enough Said, Can a Song Save Your Life, Captain Philips, Bad Grandpa)? Eat your heart out, Meryl!
Tom Sito and Jay Redd Give Great Keynotes! Everybody loved Tom Sito’s informative keynote about the evolution of computer graphics and Jay Redd’s engaging look at the things that have inspired his career. Sure, everyone can get up there and read a few facts and figures and make eye contact with the audience, but these guys really know their stuff, and they found a way to bring lots of humanity and inspiring touches to their material. We wish we could shrink them and carry Mini Sito and Mini Redd in our pockets for those days that we need an extra positive push in our lives.
Behind the-Scenes Secrets: Yes, we love their movies, but we get extra crazy when they show up to tell us how they made their projects! A big thank you ILM’s John Knoll and Hal Hickel who woke up early on the Monday morning after the opening night party to show us highlights from Pacific Rim and share some of the magic they created for the amazing Guillermo del Toro movie. Three cheers for the tech team behind Disney’s Frozen (lighting director Mohit Kallianpur, software engineer Andrew Selle, CG supervisor Frank Hanner and effects supervisors Marlon West and Dale Mayeda) who served up some nice tidbits about the making of this month’s fairy tale pic and the gregarious Sony Animation folks (director Cody Cameron, producer Pam Marsden, co-producer Chris Juen, production designer Justin Thompson and art director Dave Bleich) who spilled the beans about the creation of our favorite foodimals for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Honest Award Season Chats: We all know everyone is out there promoting their movies for the big award season, but what we got from Chris Wedge (Epic), Kristine Belson (The Croods), Aron Warner (Free Birds) and Jamie Kezlarian Bolio (Ernest and Celestine) was the honest truth. These four Oscar season contenders weren’t shy about telling us the real stories behind the making of their movies or how they felt about the animation scene in 2013, and we salute them for their candor and spirit! That’s right—2D versus CG, bring it on, baby!
Expert Advice: Where would we be without some helpful tips from some real professionals? Among the many key industry pros who allowed us to tap their brains and share their wisdom with the rest of the attendees this year were Greg Payne, Andrew Koski, Sander Schwartz, Peter McHugh, Mark Vulcano, Chris and Shannon Prynoski, Evan Spiridellis, Vincent Chalvon-Demersay, Fred DeWysocki, Raul Garcia, Roland Carroll, Robert Sethi, Ludovico Marenzi, Alexis Nelson, Scott Metzger, Stephan Lawes, Jason Bierut, Ryan Cooper, Lenora Hume, Dan Clark, Peter Gal, Jenny Fulle, Alex Schwartz, Carolyn Bates, Bonne Radford, Ted Biaselli, Jenna Boyd, Mike Moon, Conrad Montgomery, Clint Reagan, Chris Edwards, Anthony Hoit, Tapaas Chakravarti, Jacques Bilodeau, Petteri Pasanen, Youngki Lee, Brendan Burch, Frank Falcone, Tim Miller, Fred Schaefer and many more. Also, a big thank you to our helpful moderators Ellen Wolff, Tom McLean, Craig Miller and Max Howard.
Finally, Let’s Hear It for the Sponsors: We are very grateful to DreamWorks Animation, MDeC, Ile de France, Cel Action, Illumination Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, The Gotham Group, Toon Boom, The Mill, Titmouse Studios, and our media partner Variety who came through with their generous support and hospitality. We really couldn’t have done it without you!
Last, but not Least: Mil Grazie to Wonder Woman Claire-Dee Lim who did a grat job of putting this year’s Summit together. Also, a million huzzahs to Josh Sharp, Nancy Bates, Jordan Koch, Sheri Shelton, Jan Bayouth, Mercedes Milligan, Steve Dietrich, Susanne Rector and all the volunteers who were the wind beneath the wings of the Summit seagull! Finally, thank you, to Animation Magazine’s visionary president and publisher Jean Thoren, for making all of this possible!
If you missed our Summit this year, it’s not too early to plan ahead for the 2014 edition, which will be held Nov. 2-5! We will keep you posted!