Montreal – Chris Landreth’s award-winning National Film Board of Canada (NFB) animated short Subconscious Password will have its U.S. premiere at SIGGRAPH 2013, the 40th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (July 21–25, Anaheim, California), following its world premiere last month at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, where it garnered the prestigious Annecy Cristal award for best short film. The film is produced by the NFB, with the participation of the Animation Arts Centre of Seneca College and Copperheart Entertainment. Marcy Page (NFB) and Mark Smith are the producers.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Ryan(2004), and co-produced by Copperheart Entertainment and the NFB, Landreth takes audiences on a mind-bending romp through a game show of the unconscious in Subconscious Password when his character, Charles, cannot remember a friend’s name at a party. It’s Landreth’s first film in stereoscopic 3D (S3D), and his third with the NFB, a world leader in auteur animation.
Subconscious Password combines dazzling computer animation with pixilation sequences featuring Landreth’s friend and fellow animator, John Dilworth. The computer animation was created with Autodesk Maya 3D animation software, designed with Landreth’s input and used on both of his previous NFB films. Opening title sequences were modelled and animated with SANDDE (Stereoscopic Animation Drawing Device), a digital animation technology created by IMAX Corporation that allows artists to create hand-drawn animation in 3D space, and which has been licensed to the NFB to develop new creative applications.
The screening of Subconscious Password in SIGGRAPH’s Daytime Selects program marks a full circle for the film, which was partly inspired by an experience Landreth had at SIGGRAPH 2010, where, he says, he had an entire conversation with a colleague thinking he was someone else. Shortly after this embarrassing encounter, Landreth was at a video store where the clerk was playing a DVD of the ’60s TV game show Password. He watched a few Password DVDs at home, made the connection with his own awkward experiences, and the idea for Subconscious Password was born.
Landreth’s 11-minute film features a wealth of animated celebrity guests, plus Charles’s mother and his childhood babysitter, who desperately try to prompt him to remember an old friend’s name. Iconic figures appearing in the film include Dick Van Dyke, Yoko Ono, Sammy Davis Jr., William S. Burroughs, James Joyce, H.P. Lovecraft, Ayn Rand, and no less than the Virgin Mary. Despite all their attempts to help, however, Charles, Landreth’s alter ego, fails to grasp even the most obvious clues. As his frustration increases, the film’s S3D effects become more pronounced, mirroring his growing psychological imbalance. Finally, he realizes he will simply have to surrender himself to his predicament.
Seneca College is also at SIGGRAPH to share its approach to facilitating production partnerships between educational institutions, industry and government in a presentation entitled “Best Practices in Short Animation Production in Private/Public Partnerships: An Agile Approach,” taking place July 23 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mark Jones and Sean Craig of Seneca’s Animation Arts Centre will be part of the presentation, sharing how this agile approach involving students was applied to the making of Subconscious Password.