written by Bill Desowitz
The second day of CTN Expo was overflowing with interest for the informative panels, some of which I couldn't even get into, so I perused the exhibition floor and walked the lobby, making new friends and running into old ones.
For instance, I met Ken Duncan and his colleagues at Duncan Studio, who most recently did the marvelous 2D work on the How to Train Your Dragon Blu-ray/DVD short, Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon. They told me that they've done breakthrough work on integrating 2D into Maya and are working on making it available to the industry at large in the near future. More on that, to be sure.
I ran into Don Hahn, who mentioned that Tim Burton's Frankenweenie stop-motion feature was progressing well in London (early days so not much to say about the adaptation of the director's popular short other than that it will be in black-and-white and 3-D). Hahn was also pleased about the holiday DVD release of his acclaimed Waking Sleeping Beauty doc from Disney Home Ent. Hahn said that there were some nice bonus features, including deleted scenes.
Then I ran into Chris Wedge, who flew in from New York early that morning for a Q&A later that evening with Bill Kroyer. While Wedge played it close to the vest about his latest, The Legend of the Leaf Men, he positively beamed about Carlos Saldanha's Rio, which Fox releases next year on April 8. He said the animation is nearly complete for this Brazilian feast about two mismatched birds that fall in love (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway) and that the test screenings have been going well. Wedge also said that they've already outgrown their new studio in New York, but that it's great walking to work every day as opposed to the previous commute.
In terms of panels, the Animals & Creatures Animation Breakdown, moderated by Animation Mentor co-founder Bobby Beck (the online school was also the sponsor) went under the hood in demonstrating how the creatures were made in such films as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Terminator Salvation and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Panelists included Pete Kelly and Jean-Denis Haas of ILM and Brian Mendenhall and Jim Brown of Tippett Studio. In offering reference footage and behind-the-scenes clips, they revealed some of the mystery behind the creature work and how difficult it is to get believable performance and movement from fictional characters in general.
Meanwhile, Heather Kenyon, former AWN editor-in-chief and currently head of sales and project development at Starz Animation Toronto, gave invaluable advice about the Pitch Bible. Essentially, she suggested that you first think about your competition, sales outlets and audience before getting started. Then in creating your pitch tool as a guide, keep it to around 10 pages and provide compelling logline, overview, character descriptions, episode springboards and art. Kenyon stressed not to start in the middle and to capture the appropriate tone and rules of your world in alluding to the storyline. Brief, imaginative character descriptions are imperative in distinguishing your project; and the episode springboards will make or break your pitch, so make sure to include half a dozen examples of mini-episode outlines that are unique, different and full of twists.