Face to Face with Chris Landreth’s Masterclass on Facial Animation
From the first time I met Chris Landreth almost a decade ago, to our most recent meeting this past August in the waning hours of SIGGRAPH, I’ve always been impressed with the clarity and intensity of his focus. I remember that first meeting very clearly, a smoky, oppressively loud stairwell in a German discotheque. Chris was explaining his new idea for a short film, about this talented animator named Ryan Larkin who was a star at the NFB before drugs and alcohol drove him to a life of panhandling on the streets of Montreal. I listened intently. It sounded crazy. I tried to be funny – “Sounds like a real comedy” I said. He looked at me without smiling and said “No, it’s not. It’s an animated documentary of sorts about this really intense artist and the demons that destroyed his life and his career.” As I said, a real comedy. For the next 30 minutes he explained to me in great detail about the film he was going to make.
Fast forward several years and Chris is accepting his Academy Award for his film Ryan. Exactly the film he told me he was going to make. As I said, Chris is known for intensity of his focus. In my 15 years at the helm of Animation World Network, I’ve heard more than a few story ideas. Some were even coherent. It was obvious Chris’ idea was not just a tale of sorrow and woe, but a new way of using state of the art cg animation to explore and visualize the emotion of a tragic but compelling character.
Chris now brings that clarity and intensity of focus to the classroom with Making Faces: a Masterclass on Facial Animation, a 42-hour, 4 week masterclass he developed this past spring with the expert help of Mark Jones and Sean Craig at Seneca College’s School of Communication Arts.
Starting up this September 20th at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada, the course is generating considerable “buzz” and should prove to be a great success. Future classes are in the works, including a 2 week version being held in Paris with George Melies and private courses scheduled at some major animation studios.
Making Faces is a complete immersion in facial animation. From complex musculoskeletal anatomy to rigging and animation, this masterclass is bound to radically change any student’s fundamental perspective on the vital importance of the face in character animation. The course is a direct extension of Chris’ own philosophy, knowledge and skill as an artist, animator and student of animation, his years of experience spent creating some of the most memorable and well respected animated shorts ever made. Like Richard Williams’ highly-regarded week-long course, this is a “masterclass” in the truest sense of the word.