Dr. Stuart Sumida
The absolute highlight of TAAFI on Saturday was a talk by Dr. Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist by trade who consults with the animation business. Dr. Sumida has consulted for Disney, DreamWorks and Arc Productions in Toronto, and it was Arc who suggested him as a TAAFI speaker. His talk was on comparative anatomy, pointing out the difference between herbivores and carnivores, between animals and humans and then between men and women. Those differences in structure had repercussions for how various creatures move.
I think everybody in the audience learned something about anatomy from his talk. I know that I did. After his talk, I approached him to suggest that he lecture at Sheridan the next time he was in Toronto, but the associate dean of the animation program beat me to him. I hope that Sheridan students have the benefit of his knowledge.
Not having heard of him prior to TAAFI, I did not register for his Sunday master class. I will not make that mistake again should he return to Toronto. If he appears at a festival near you, I urge you to attend. You will not be disappointed.
The balance of my day was spent watching three shorts programs. Shorts programs are always a mixed bag. There's no question that I have a bias for narrative. My general comment, not only about the shorts at TAAFI, is that many films are poorly paced and directed. I often find myself wanting the films to move faster or be clearer as to what they are trying to communicate. The work embedded below is what I found online and that I felt had merit. However, few of the films are serious and still entertaining. That may be asking too much, but it's a direction that I'd like to see animation pursue.
I enjoyed the anarchy of Got Me a Beard and I thought The Right Place was well crafted, though I wish the craft was applied to something other than a scatological joke. Fester Makes Friends is the latest in a series of Fester cartoons. They are dopey and politically incorrect, but they remind me of cartoons of the 1930s that throw decorum to the wind.
There was a 21 minute film called Priests whose animation and design were rather spare, but had a great script that dealt with various religious contradictions as well as the relationship between two priests.
Jazz That Nobody Asked For was another anarchic piece that I enjoyed. The Bravest Warriors is a web series by Pen Ward, the creator of Adventure Time. I was never able to get my head around Adventure Time and admit that it's probably a generational thing, but I found The Bravest Warriors to be clever.
The last shorts program I saw that day was student shorts. Four of them were from Sheridan, so I can't be objective about them. Happily Ever After was from Israel and had potential but he ending was a disappointment. Double Occupancy from Germany was very solid for a student film, but there were missed acting opportunities. The two characters could have been developed further. Probably the stand-out was I am Tom Moody. What's embedded below is only a portion of the entire film, which is a sensitive look at a character at war with himself.
Jazz that nobody asked for from Benny Box on Vimeo