Last night at the star-studded 86th annual Academy Awards, Hollywood paid tribute to the incredible work in animation and VFX this year.
Frozen, directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
“Let it Go,” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, won Best Original Song. This win gave Robert Lopez the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), in which he is only the 12th person to ever achieve such a feat. Though, with Idina Menzel’s wickedly (pun intended) good performance, none of us were surprised that this song captured the Academy’s heart… and likely a few downloads on their iTunes account.
The French short, Mr. Hublot, by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, took the award for Best Animated Short.
Lastly, Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould won Best Visual Effects for their work in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity.
Now, the question is… how will you make your dream of accepting an Oscar a reality? Ideas for the Animated Short can help! Below the authors ask some of the top animators for advice for young talent and how to make it in this industry.
Q: What advice do you give to an animator making their first short?
My advice would be: don’t overcomplicate it. Just find one idea that you want to tell, stick with that and trust it. If it’s not working ask yourself why. Don’t think you have to pile a bunch of other stuff on top of it to make it work and make it longer. Students, especially, will pack so much stuff into the film to try to show what they can do and to make the amazing film. I know I learned so much more by making several shorter films in the span of a year instead of making only one gigantic opus. I know at Pixar, when we look at other short films, the thing we respond to the most is a short simple idea that grabs us, that we get to react to, and then it lets us go.
Q: What advice would you give someone who was planning their first film?
Mike Cachuela, Coraline, Ratatouille, and The Corpse Bride:
Test your story as many ways as you can to get it working. Use storyboards, pre-viz and just tell the story verbally. It will keep you and your team invested in the project. Keep your ideas simple and the number of your locations and characters down to a minimum. You can always get bigger with your next effort!
Q: What are the important things to remember when designing a film?
One of the most important things is that you’re a filmmaker; you’re not just an illustrator or a painter. So how a film turns out on the screen is the most important thing. Learn the process, and immerse yourself in the filmmaking. Learn about camera and camera composition, line and shape, space and light, and how it all comes together to create a strong cinematic point of view. When you decide on a visual point of view for a film, the best way to get it across is to be consistent through every aspect of it, from the character design to the design of the world to every element that goes into that world, and it should work with the story and the tone of the story.
We start designing in art, but then it goes through many departments before it ends up on screen. From art to modeling to surfacing to lighting to animating, you have to make sure you are staying true to what is important in the design. So that when you get this image on screen and your characters are moving around in it, it says what you want it to say, throughout the movie.
There are a lot of voices and a lot of stress in the kitchen, and it gets hard to juggle it all. You have to feel pretty passionately about it, and stick to your guns. That can be challenging over a two- to three-year process. Have a strong point of view and see it through.
Excerpt from Ideas for the Animated Short by Karen Sullivan, Kate Alexander, Aubry Mintz, and Ellen Besen © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.