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One more for the road

Nathan Strum


Well, now I'm going to have Boz Skaggs running through my head all afternoon. Again. It's not like he even knocks first. He just gets in there and starts running around.




So, another school year has come to an end.


But this year I'm not going to break down my whole history of working at CalArts and editing the end-of-year shows together for the past 30-ish years. Again. This year was pretty-much the same as last year, and you can read about all of that in last year's blog entry. Our shows were a little early this year - before the end of April - just due to the way calendar dates happened to fall. But I'm only now getting around to blogging it up. (That's a thing. All the hip kids are blogging it up. Just ask around.)


The main difference this year is that the Open Show (every student film from Character Animation for the academic year) was held outside. The students really liked being outdoors when we did it two years ago (for safety's sake in the ebbing months of the pandemic), so we did it again. You're at risk of bad weather (yes, even in Southern California), and you can't control lighting, sound, video and ambient noise as well. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and everything went just fine. The show ran (wait for it...) 9 hours and 50 minutes. And even though that's split over two nights, that's pandemic-level binge-watching territory. 189 films when all was said and done.


So then... pictures!


Our vendor (Rent for Event L.A.) setting up the 20' wide LED wall. This was an improved version over the previous one, with finer pitch (higher resolution, effectively):



They also brought out a new sound system which I was told worked really well. I have no idea - I was 1100 miles away, editing everything remotely:



I'm always impressed how good these LED walls look - even in daylight. We had to start the shows at 6:00PM each night, since a city noise ordinance required us to be done no later than 11:00PM. Another thing we don't have to deal with indoors.


The screen may look a little small, but in person it's actually perfectly fine. Anything larger, and we'd have to pay extra for an engineer to design staging to support it.


To kick off the show on the second night, most of the Character Animation Faculty came outside to raucous (and well-deserved) applause from the students:


They were on campus to watch the Open Show in a separate location and jury the films for our next event. But they didn't have the luxury of splitting it over two nights.


At night, the video techs have to back off the brightness of the LED wall quite a lot - or it would be blinding. In the distance, you can see the tall windows of the recently renovated Character Animation space. I'm sure I posted somewhere about the flood and reconstruction and all that...



A week-and-a-half later, we had the Producers' Show, down at the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum Theater. This is a faculty-juried selection of about 23 films, which ran a bit short of two hours. Got a nice write-up online about it too, (which is strange, since Cartoon Brew spent years bashing CalArts for whatever reasons).


That's a proper theater. We had about 800 people there - students, alumni, faculty, and studio reps from dozens of animation studios.


The Producers' Show films this year were:


There are a lot of great films in there, but my favorite this year was Vinterfint. I can't explain why, but it just really appeals to my sense of humor. :)  (I heard it got a great reaction at the show, too.) Cold Soda is another favorite of mine because I really like the stylistic animation and character design. Hymns of a Tiny World is also a pretty amazing piece of work - more akin to animated Audubon illustrations that a typical "cartoon".


You can find more of the films online at our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1lT7OF9iYNsC44DrawSN8T1zUgtXzqNq More may be added over time. Some aren't posted because it can impact eligibility for film festivals.


You can see more photos over at the official site:

2024 Open Show, Day 1

2024 Open Show, Day 2

2024 Producers' Show

Article about the flood

Renovated Character Animation Space


So, that's it for another year.


Actually, that's it - period. For me anyway. Next year, someone else will get to do all of this. I thought my last show was actually going to be two years ago, but it's taken them this long to staff back up. I hadn't expected to continue on with CalArts this long, but the new staff are in place, and after I help them get transitioned in, I get transitioned out.


And after 30 years... I'm actually looking forward to it. It was a good job, but 30 years of any job is enough.


I just need to figure out what to do next... :ponder: 

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I love the voiceover, too. That was actually done by another student. Just have to wonder how many times they were laughing themselves silly recording it. :D 

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