Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Pegbar event: 16th of September

Well, it's a slightly delayed update on the Pegbar event, but I'd a busy weekend and then spent a majority of yesterday trying to get my stubborn scanner to work. Anyway, as always, it was a cozy collection of animators and people in the industry admiring the work of their peers, contemporaries and knowledgeable elders who've made a recognizable impact in the animation world. 

The first speaker (though a man of few words) was Barry O'Donaghue, the director of Barley Films. He showed us a collection of short films that he was involved in. One of the most mermorbale was a short entitled " The Rooster, the Crocodile and the Night Sky".

 It's a charming story about a Rooster that goes on a search for the night sky, which has been stolen by a greedy crocodile that wasnts to cut it up and make it into clothes. The funniest of all the characters is the sea, which starts to go crazy without the moon and the night sky to calm and control it. It's wonderfully animated with a mixture of textures, live action , stop motion and computer animation.

Another wonderful short was the "The Agricultural Report". A charming little story about a cow that overhears a report about foot and mouth, and becomes extremely panicked about the increasing risks of him becominig infected. The cow finally crushes the radio under its own weight, as he tries to avoid touching the grass. He slowly becomes aware of the fact that you can't life your life in fear and relaxes back into his old way of life as if he'd never heard the report. It's a subtle reflection on the madness of terrorist threats in America, with the country seemingly in a constant state of fear. 

Next up was Emmet O'Neill the director of Creative and Interactive Design with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. He told us about his wonderful job at Rothco (where drinking a beer at your desk was the norm) and how he was initially heart broken when he left this great job and took up his current position at the "suit and tie" environment at HMH. This turned out to benefit both him and the company as he was completely free to be creative with his work as he wasn't worried about losing his job as his old position at Rothco was still available. With this freedom, he went on to create, what he referred to as "Sin City for 6 year olds!". This film noir-esque educational computer game completely revamped what the company was already using and was massively sucessful. The "Carmen Sandiego" character/product, who investigates educational quandaries is now one of the most well known  educational tools in the whole of america. The frnachaise has now spread to several formats, including the internet, ds games, mac/pc, playstation online and xbox live games and more. 

This reminded me a lot of Jason Tammemagi's talk at the last Pegbar event. He too threw caution to the wind and when he was asked to fill out a survey in work about how the animation company he was working for was being run, he went all out and tore the business to shreds. Instead of being punished, the manager took all he said on board and even promoted him to creative director at Monster. So sometimes putting your neck on the line and showing some courage can  pay off. He then went on to create the wonderful "Fluffy Gardens". He was told the show wouldn't be successful as the characters of the show change in each episode (there's no central chacarters in each episode). Regardless, he went on with the idea and is now a very  successful cartoon and has been sold in over 100 countries. 

Slightly getting off topic there... Fraser MacLean was next up. He reiterated a lot of what he said when he visited us in Ballyfermot, but again he is a termendously animated and passionate man and a joy to listen to. He showed us a few more pages of his beautiful book and I guarantee everyone in that room has that book on their Christmas list! So fingers crossed he'll break even at least.

Thinking about the last Pegbar event, makes me want to write about Norton Virgien as well, who also did a wonderful talk, but I think I'll get my head around that another day.

Check out http://pegbar.ie/ for more info on previous and coming events

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