Well, I just wrapped up the end-of-year shows for the Character Animation Program at CalArts. Again.
For the 18th year in a row.
And I feel like I've been sleep-deprived for 18 straight years, although it's really only been 3 1/2 weeks. But it's been a long 3 1/2 weeks, with no weekends off, a bunch of 12-hour days, and at least a couple of 18-hour ones thrown in for good measure.
I stayed home today, and mostly slept.
Our full show (the Open Show) was on April 28th, was about 6 1/2 hours long, and had 155 student films in it. We had 300 people show up to our impromptu movie theater in the Main Gallery, and by all accounts the show was a success. Canon was nice enough to loan us a spiffy HD projector for the evening, so we were finally able to have the Open Show in full HD for the first time. Nice. I didn't take any pictures, because my iPhone does a terrible job of taking pictures in an otherwise-completely-dark room with a white-hot-bright projection screen at one end. Basically, you just get a picture of a big, white rectangle.
Last night was our Producers' Show - a "best of" exhibition of faculty-juried films running just over an hour. In previous years, we've held it at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood - which is part of the Emmys' organization (the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences). A nice theater, and where we've been for that show since 1994. But... they don't have HD equipment. Last year we had to go to considerable expense to bring in sound and video rental gear to upgrade the theater for the evening. Plus, we had another "little" problem... that theater "only" holds 600 people. Every year, we've had to turn people away.
This year, we stepped up a notch. From the Emmys, to the Oscars.
Last night, we were at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Yeah baby... that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! This is part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - the Oscars' organization - and is one of the top screening facilities in Los Angeles (a sound engineer at work who goes to a lot of screenings says it is the best one). They hold premieres there, special screenings, retrospectives, the Student Academy Awards, etc. They're one of the last places that can still show 70mm (and they'll be showing 70mm prints of Spartacus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World this summer, among others). And now, it's home to our show as well.
The reasons we moved were twofold: First - the theater has state-of-the-art HD projection and sound. No renting or fussing required. Second - it holds 1012 people. So we didn't have to turn people away this year! And while we weren't at capacity, 850 people isn't too shabby either. That's 250 more than we ever could have had before, and I suspect we'll have even more next year.
The theater is amazing. There's not a bad seat in the house. Sound and picture were flawless. We had to rent an HDCAM deck and Dolby E gear at work to output a tape that we could use there (since HDCAM decks start at $50,000 and we don't otherwise have much call for them), but next year we're moving to a DCP (Digital Cinema Package). This is what gets played at your local movie theater now, instead of film. We had been researching DCPs, but fell about 3 days short of being able to actually create one for the show (and we would have had no way to test it). But we're working with a company that makes software for creating them (and used to make DCP recording and playback systems), so we expect to have this worked out well in advance of next year's show.
The new theater was quite different from the previous one in a whole bunch of ways. Probably the most surprising difference was the amount of security. There had to be a dozen security people there, and everyone had to go through a metal detector to get in. Very strange, but that's just how they roll in Beverly Hills. We also had to pay to have a latticework fence and hedge (yes - a real one) put up outside to block the sidewalk from the street traffic. I didn't get why, until after the show. The lobby, as big as it is, just can't hold that many people, so they need a place to spill outside onto. Effectively, it makes it into a nice patio area, and the hedge completely blocks you out from the insanity that is Wilshire Blvd.
Oh yeah... Wilshire Blvd. Just avoid that if you can. In an area renown for its crazy drivers, Wilshire is right up there. But it's all crazy people driving Bentleys. I kid you not. Also, while the theater is only about 32 miles from CalArts, it took me 90 minutes to get there for our tech run-through the day before the show. That's the one bad thing about the new venue - getting to it. I think we must have started a half hour late because of all of the people still arriving after 8:00 PM.
Anyway, the show was a success. It played without a hitch, and the audience really seemed to enjoy themselves. It's hard for me to get a read on it so soon afterwards, but all of the feedback I got last night at the reception was positive. Hopefully, this will result in jobs for our students. More hopefully, it will result in more money for the school.
So then, here are the films from last night's show. As more become available online, I'll add links to them. (I would've embedded them, but the blog software won't let me embed more than a few in a single post. Stupid software.)
Trevor Jones and others - Opening Titles
Eusong Lee - will (2012 Walter & Gracie Lantz Animation Prize winner)
Toniko Pantoja - The Crayon Dragon (2012 CalArts Peers' Pick Award winner)
Brian Carter - Princess of the Magical Tears
Tahnee Gehm - Can We Be Happy Now
Louis Thomas - le ballet
Hannah Ayoubi - Story Time Confessions pt. I-III
Theresa Latzko - Days without accident
Jisoo Kim - The Bathhouse
Michael Piazza - Under a Big Tree
Zesung Kang - In This Grave Hour
Sun Jae Lee - The Princess Who Never Smiled
Tom Law - Love (aka Cactus Film)
You can check out even more of our films from this year on our Vimeo channel.