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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Digital Effects and Animation Panel from SXSW

Some belated notes from Sunday's SXSW panel on 'Animation and Digital Effects on a Budget'...

We talked a lot about the importance of pre-visualization (what used to be called simply 'storyboarding.') The panelists agreed that pre-viz, in whatever high-tech or low-tech form, is probably more important for independent filmmakers working on a tight budget than it is for the studio-backed big guys.

Alex Lindsay recommended Google SketchUp. Stu Maschwitz said he'd pre-vizzed national ad (for Toshiba's HD DVD gear, alas) using video from his Panasonic DMC LX2 digital camera; the camera costs less than $300. Others said that even pencil sketches of stick figures can work well, edited together in FinalCut or not. Stu said he'd also recommended that a friend use a PlayStation 2 game called 'Driver 2' to pre-viz a car chase he wanted to shoot. Stu said there's lots of potential in using videogames (and videogame controllers) to pre-viz quickly.

I asked about some recent work that might be encouraging to people working on tight budgets. Among the stuff mentioned was Don Hertzfeld's animation, the Galacticast podcast, 'Persepolis,' and 'Hoodwinked.'

Geoff Marslett showed some early footage from his new feature project, 'Mars,' which he's making for under $200K. It involves some pretty stylish rotoscoping. Mark Forker showed some work done by his new Philadelphia visual effects studio Dive, for an indie director.

And Stu offered a break-down of how he made a quick-and-dirty, but very impressive, ad for a Southwest Airlines "Wanna Get Away?" Internet contest (he didn't win, but should have). It's here.

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