Portfolio - Siggraph Animation Theater
By Karen Moltenbrey
Issue: Volume: 29 Issue: 7 (July 2006)

Portfolio - Siggraph Animation Theater

  • “The setup, payoff, and comic timing make this one of the most humorous films this year.”
  • “ Another example of great design, animation, and gag all coming together in a superb, technically tight edit. A hilariously funny piece.” 
  • “A brilliant, behind-the-scenes demonstration of a mind-boggling and complex sequence.” 
  • “The fresh look of this film, the comic timing, and tight animation make it a very clear favorite.” 
  • “ One of the best examples of character animation in the entire show. Absolutely tight timing with wonderfully subtle eye movements, voice talent, staging, character design, lighting, set dressing, and much more.”
These are but a few of the accolades and observations made by Digital Fauxtography’s Terrence Masson, chair of the 2006 SIGGRAPH Animation Festival, about some of the projects that will be shown at this year’s event later this month. “From across the globe, the word is out that the Computer Animation Festival is one of the premier venues for showcasing artistic and technical talent in the film world,” says Masson. “The competition among [submissions] was fierce.”
Nearly 100 animation selections from more than 725 entries were chosen for the Animation Festival: 34 appearing in the Electronic Theater (see the Portfolio section of the June issue for a detailed look at that venue) and 63 featured in the Animation Theater. Among those are a mixture of 2D and 3D animations from the worlds of feature film, short films, scientific visualizations, game cinematics, television commercials and specials, and more. Some projects were created by high-profile special effects facilities such as Digital Domain, Framestore CFC, and Cinesite, while others were crafted by boutique facilities like Psyop and Rhinofx. Others were generated by academia at universities such as the University of Alabama and the University of California, Berkeley, while a good number of animated shorts and other projects were submitted by students at various schools and animation colleges, including California Institute of the Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Ringling School of Art and Design. “This year’s crop of accepted pieces is diverse, thought-provoking, and technically superb,” says Masson.
A number of selections appearing in the Animation Theater garnered special praise from Masson and others on the jury. This includes “Fog (Niebla)” from director Emilio Ramos of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, about an old man who spins a nostalgic story of how the village’s flying sheep brought the town a brief moment of prosperity. “An original and very personal work that is absolutely beautiful in so many ways,” says Masson of the animation. “The combination of such originality with overall technical excellence makes the piece quite memorable. The look, the storytelling, and the facial animation of the main character are all completely brilliant. This is a film truly meant to be watched multiple times.”
Another particularly exceptional project from the Animation Theater is “Delivery,” from director Till Nowak of the Framebox in Germany. His piece tells the story of an old man who lives a lonely life under the dark shadows of industrial smog, until one day, the man receives a mysterious package that gives him the ability to change his environment. Praises Masson: “A perfect example of the power of storytelling. Using computer graphics to illustrate this simple fantasy world is truly the filmmaker taking advantage of the medium.”
One animation, “Robin Hood Flour,” was so well received that the jury chose to put two separate spots from the short into each theater: one appears in the Electronic Theater (“Robin Hood Flour—Giving”) and the other in the Animation Theater (“Robin Hood Flour—Memories”). “One of the best examples of character animation in the entire show,” says Masson. “Absolutely tight timing with wonderfully subtle eye movements, voice talent, staging, character design, lighting, set dressing, and much more.”
Some of those pieces, along with other selections from the Animation Theater, are presented on these pages.
—Karen Moltenbrey    


Flight Patterns This technical image was acquired from a
project directed and animated by Aaron Koblin from UCLA
Design Media Arts.

Aalim Schädel This compelling student film was directed
by Martin Rahmlow and produced by Anne Hoever from the
Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital
Postproduction in Germany.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy This image contains digital
imagery created by the effects facility Cinesite for the sci-fi feature
film. Production VFX supervisor for the movie was Angus Bickerton.
The MagicBox A visually unique production, the project’s 3D and
video production was done by LotusArt and Alexander Beim from

Moongirl This animation was written and directed by Henry
Selick and produced by Helen Kalafatic of Laika Entertainment in
Portland, Oregon.

Fog (Niebla) This still is from an animated short directed
by Emilio Ramos, and animated/designed by Ramos, along
with Maria del Mar Hernandez and Jordi Codina, from the
Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain.

Delivery An unusual animation, this project was directed and
produced by Till Nowak from Germany.


Multi-Layered Cloth Simulation This technical animation
was directed by Anthony LaMolinara and produced by
Craig A. Sost for Walt Disney Animation.

Relighting Human Locomotion This technical image,
taken from an animation exploring lighting techniques,
was done by Paul Debevec from the University of Southern

Rama The vibrant imagery of this animation was modeled,
textured, and lit by Eric Bruneton from France.

Musashino Plateau Directed and produced by Nobuo
Takahashi, this project was completed as part of his education
at Nagoya City University in Japan.

Reflect This technical image from an animation set to music
was done by Dennis H. Miller from Northeastern University
in Boston.

Snakes Inspired by a woodcut by MC Escher, this image is
from an animation that was directed by Spain’s Cristobal Vila,
who was also responsible for its production, 3D modeling,
texturing, lighting, editing, and animation.
 Robin Hood Flour—Giving Directed by Richard Rosenman,
this animation was done by Red Rover Studios in Toronto.