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SIGGRAPH Asia Announces 2016 Computer Animation Festival Winners

India’s ‘Schirkoa,’ Germany’s ‘BreakingPoint’ and New Zealand’s ‘Accidents, Blunders and Calamities’ awarded top honors.

'Schirkoa' directed by Ishan Shukla.

MACAO -- Rising talent in animation from India, Germany and New Zealand will receive honors at SIGGRAPH Asia’s Computer Animation Festival Awards on December 6, 2016. The Festival celebrates the world’s most innovative and accomplished digital film and video creators. It is also a showcase of the world’s best works in 2016. An overwhelming 433 submissions from 34 countries were received; and from these, 63 films will be screened at the Electronic Theatre and Animation Theatre at SIGGRAPH Asia.

“The Computer Animation Festival is one of the greatest highlights of SIGGRAPGH Asia,” remarked awards chair Victor Wong Wang Tat. “In the past, when the tools for creating computer animation were being developed and refined, the entries that we’ve received were mainly technical. However, over the past decade, those tools have advanced to a much higher level, enabling artists bring their imagination to life more intuitively. This year, we had over 433 entries, which included both visually stunning and technically intense pieces. There were over 10 entries where all of the members of the jury agreed that they might win and surprisingly, half of these entries were created by students!”

All the submissions were evaluated by an jury of professionals expert who span the visual effects, animation, research and development, games, advertising, and education industries. Since 1999, the Computer Animation Festival has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival. One of the festival’s winners, Schirkoa (India) is a contender for the nominees of the Academy Award’s Best Animated Short next year.

SIGGRAPH Asia will host two additional speaker panels at the Festival this year in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The panels are Re-shade This!: Production Focus on Changes to Character Shading Pipeline in Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory’ with Christophe Hery and Masha Ellsworth; and Creating Cute Characters in “Finding Dory”: Baby Dory and Destiny, with Nancy Tsang and Maria Lee. The latter panel will delve into the process of animation architecture and character creation in one of the most watched animation films this year.

The full list of award categories and winners at the 2016 The Computer Animation Festival is shown below:

Schirkoa (India)
Directed by Ishan Shukla, produced by Sharad Varma

In the dystopian city of Schirkoa, a high­ profile senate member, 197(A), faces a tough choice between his political career and love for a mysterious woman. This is a choice that will transform their lives and the city in unimaginable ways. The film is metaphorical reaction to the world we live in; a mental dystopia with a misinterpreted idea of a “perfect life.”

Shukla is an award-winning Indian CG artist and filmmaker with a strong penchant for storytelling and has been engaged in creating comics, films and stage-plays since childhood. After dropping out of an engineering college to pursue animation, he graduated from 3D Sense Media School Singapore in 2008. Between 2008-2012, Shukla was based in Singapore spearheading projects ranging from TV commercials to TV series. He then took a two-year sabbatical to work on his short film, Schirkoa. The look and design of the film is inspired by both classic anime and modern stylized games. He is now working as a CG Lead at an animation studio in India while working on personal projects in spare time.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award,” Shukla commented. “I attended the very first SIGGRAPH Asia back in 2008, and I was sitting in the electronic theatre in awe. Looking at those beautiful artworks from all over the world wondering ‘wouldn’t it be something to have my own film screened on this prestigious screen’? Thanks to the ACM Siggraph for this huge award and for pushing me to become a better artist! I have never been so inspired and excited for my next project.”

Accidents, Blunders and Calamities (New Zealand)
Directed by James Cunningham, produced by James Cunningham and Oliver Hilbert

Inspired by the Edward Gorey classic, this black comedy for kids and parents alike is a hilarious and brutal alphabet of death and mayhem exacted upon animals by ignorant humans. 30 CGI animals were meticulously crafted and killed by a team of 44 students at Media Design School.

Cunningham started out as an animator/director while completing his Masters degree at Elam School of Fine Arts. His third film, Infection, competed at Cannes 2000, Sundance 2001 and dozens of other international film festivals and started off two key paths in his career as a director and visual effects artist and supervisor. In 2009, he took time out to make his second NZFC-funded short film, Poppy, a 10-minute CGI motion-captured WWI drama about a man finding salvation in the midst of hell. This film took out the top prize at SIGGRAPH Asia 2010. Since then, Cunningham has been teaching at New Zealand’s top institution for animation and visual effects, Media Design School, where he first met filmmaking partner Oliver Hilbert.

“It means so much for us to receive this recognition as it helps us measure the level of the work we produce,” Cunningham said. “It gives our students great confidence in their abilities and helps them get noticed above the pack of other young people trying to get into the industry. It helps ease the memory of all the long days and weeks, making it worthwhile. It helps to inspire us to make more weird and quirky stories. To know lots of people have watched the film and have been amused/revolted is so important. But to know some very smart people on a jury really liked it is awesome.”

BreakingPoint (Germany)
Directed by Martin Lapp, produced by Anica Maruhn, Tobias Gerginov and Francesco Faranna

The phenomenon “hysterical strength” is a display of extreme strength by humans, beyond what is believed to be normal, usually occurring when people are in life and death situations. We witness a mother giving birth to her child and follow her journey on a more metaphorical level.

Born 1988 in Tübingen, Lapp studied at the Merz Akademie Stuttgart and later switched to the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg to study animation with a focus on Visual Effects. During his studies, he worked as a Visual Effects Artist as well as a VFX on set supervisor for professional films and advertisement projects. He was a CG Artist on several commercials and feature films at Method Studios in Los Angeles. He won the Visual Effects Society Award for his film Rugbybugs and was chosen “Student of the Year, Runner Up” at the annual Autodesk Student Awards. In 2015, he received a scholarship from Sony (Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence) and graduated with his diploma project BreakingPoint in 2016. He was selected “Student of the Year” again at “The Rookies” (formerly the Autodesk Student Awards) and currently works at Trixter Film in Munich as an FX Artist on Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

“The idea for BreakingPoint arose from personal events in my family, which relates to my sister giving birth, one year ahead of preproduction,” Lapp commented. “We wanted to create something visually stunning -- yet personal, this led to the idea for the short. Winning the Best Student Project Award at SIGGRAPH Asia is a huge honor for the whole team and we are more than thrilled about it. Thank you!”

The Computer Animation Festival Awards Ceremony will be held at 11am on December 6, 2016, at the The Venetian Macao Ballroom H, Level 3. The Computer Animation Festival will host the Production Session: Meet the Artists at 3.30pm on December 6 at The Venetian Macao Ballroom H, Level 3.

Source: SIGGRAPH Asia 2016

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.