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The Tour Begins at ILM

All were impressed with the gorgeous view from the cafeteria, where one can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts and the CalTrains Building all from the same room, which is a rare feat in San Francisco.

The nominees relax (and goof around if you look in the background) in the ILM lobby. © 2008 AWN Inc.

The nominees relax (and goof around if you look in the background) in the ILM lobby. © 2008 AWN Inc.

With everyone attending the San Fran leg of the tour together, ILM’s Danielle O’Hare greeted us in the lobby and treated the filmmakers to a tour. Having taken the tour last year with our gracious host Kate Shaw, this year we learned some of the same history with a sprinkling of some new facts. For instance, on the wall is ILM’s last matte painting from Die Hard 2. At the time of its creation Jim Henson had just passed away, so as a tribute, the artists painted Kermit faces on the side of the trucks featured in the wide shot of the snowy tarmac at the close of the film. Hugh inquired what has happened to the traditional matte painters and Danielle said that many have transitioned over to CG, while James joked that the others having transitioned over into driving cabs.

Inspiring views. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Inspiring views. © 2008 AWN Inc.

All were impressed with the gorgeous view from the cafeteria, where one can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts and the CalTrains Building all from the same room, which is a rare feat in San Francisco. In the hall, we met sculptor and visual effects artist Mark Siegel, whose credits date back to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. As we were speaking with him, we were actually standing in front of one of his creations, Slimmer from Ghostbusters. After meeting the nominees, Siegel changed his plans for the evening and made it to the screening.

Mark Siegel poses with Boba Fett after the screening. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Mark Siegel poses with Boba Fett after the screening. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Filled with ILM employees and members of ASIFA-San Fran, the filmmakers took questions from the crowd. The first question was one that Chris has had to field since the first screening of Madame Tutli-Putli — how did you create the human eyes on the puppets? Chris explained that they approached the film as any stop-motion film and that Jason Walker hand added the eyes afterward. It’s a question so often asked that Josh volunteered to handle it for Chris if need be. However, Josh had his own questions to take, explaining to the audience how his film came about and that his influences were Terry Gilliam and the drawings of John Lennon.

James questions the treatment of good ole Han Solo. © 2008 AWN Inc.

James questions the treatment of good ole Han Solo. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Suzie was asked about collaborating with the Polish studio Se-Ma-For. She said that they made the film exactly the way she imagined it. Despite the language barrier, she said the animators understood her on a creative level almost instinctively. When asked about having an alternative ending where the duck survives being eaten by the wolf, Suzie felt that her more realistic treatment of the Prokofiev’s work didn’t leave room for the more fantastic elements of ducks living inside wolves’ stomachs. She was also asked how she handled working with a team of 200 animators, responding that it was a big challenge to work on a project of this scale, but it still felt personal because the animators communicated with her in an unspoken creative language.

Sam was asked about the puppet-like movements of his CG characters, stating that his original intention was to do squash and stretch, but when that became too difficult, he went with a more deliberate style, which may be the reason that some people think the film is stop-motion at first. He added that the budget was 40,000 Euros, the film took two years to make and that he was not paid for the production. As for the budgets of the other films, Peter and the Wolf cost $2 million, with 5 years invested from start to finish, 13 months of that actually being production. Madame Tutli-Putli, which was produced by the NFB, took four years to make at a cost of CA$600,000. Josh told the crowd that I Met the Walrus had a budget of CA$26,000 and took 1 1/2 years to complete.

After mingling with the receptive crowd, Kate rounded us all together to head out for a late dinner.