Episode Ninety-Six: Producing Animation

January 11, 2012 by  
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Abstract Block Background Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Producing animated content is a much different process than producing live action. The concept of creating a whole world is the same, but in CG animation, every aspect of the production is created in a computer. The process is vast and very fascinating. Join us as we speak to animation producer, Ellen Coss about her experience in the world of CG art and animation.

Ellen Coss- Producer

Ellen Coss is a 25 year veteran in computer generated imagery, starting her career at the seminal Digital Productions.

In the 1980s feature films were not using computer imagery, but theme park attractions were.  Ellen spent 2 years at Universal Studios as the production manager of the film for Florida’s Universal Park Attraction “The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera”. The film, a motion based race through three of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon worlds employed computer backgrounds and 2D characters, optically composited.  This was one of the first projects to combine 2D and 3D animation.

Ellen then joined Rhythm & Hues as a producer for theme park attraction films such as Seafari, which won first place at Imagina that year.  She later became the Executive Producer of the theme park division and was responsible for bringing in multi-million dollar projects to the studio.

As many of the projects she worked on became creative milestones in the industry, Disney Feature Animation brought her in to produce their theme park attraction films.  Magic Lamp, employed exaggerated squash and stretch techniques common in 2D but not common in cg, and Mickey’s Philharmagic, a stereoscopic film which took nine of Disney’s beloved 2D characters and created them in 3D.  It is currently playing at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando and is the number one audience rated attraction.

Ellen then joined Dreamworks, as a Production Executive, where she worked for a year on various studio initiatives.  Subsequently she was the Associate Producer on the feature film Over the Hedge, released in 2006.  Hedge was heralded by Jeffrey Katzenberg as the smoothest running production ever at Dreamworks Animation.  During a second stint at Dreamworks, Ellen produced the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special, which aired on NBC and Secrets of the Masters, which was the companion DVD to Kung Fu Panda 2.

Seeing that overseas production was the wave of the future Ellen headed to Prana Studios, a 325 person animation studio with offices in Mumbai India and Los Angeles. As Head of Production Ellen contributed with her years of production pipeline experience as well as her new role as a voice in the process of the company developing their own I.P.  Prana is currently producing, as a 1/3 ownership partner, three direct to DVD features entitled Unstable Fables being distributed in 2008 by TWC.  Under Ellen’s direction all pre-production including script writing, storyboarding and visual development occurred in Los Angeles, with physical production currently taking place in India.

Ellen then got a call to produce The Tortoise and the Hippo at Walden Media with John Dykstra directing.  She developed the project for 7 months until it was put on hold because of the writer’s strike.

Ellen then provided producing consulting services for the animated feature Arthur Christmas an Aardman Animation film to be distributed by Sony.

Ellen’s reputation in the industry is one of an excellent executer, and a nurturing manager, as well as a supporter and contributor to the creative vision of all projects.  Her goal on every project is to produce an excellent creative product, on time and on budget and to have the people associated with the project feel that it was one of the best working experiences in their career.

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Episode Fifty: Icons Panel #4

August 25, 2010 by  
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The Icons event was held during Comic Con and showcased different types of pop culture including art, film, music and fashion. Film Method conducted a total of four panels at the event. Here is the recording from the fourth panel of the day with 10 year old film critic Perry Chen, Director Kevin Sean Michaels and the director of How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois.


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Perry S. Chen- Film Critic/Animator

At 10 years old, Perry Chen is the most influential and award-winning child film and entertainment critic, speaker, TV personality, radio talk show host, reviewing movies and family-friendly entertainment with his unique, kids-friendly starfish rating system on a multi-media platform on TV, radio, print, and web. He is an entertainment critic for the San Diego Entertainer Magazine and was the first child film critic invited to present at the prestigious Annie Awards for animation, the youngest blogger on Animation World Network (AWN), the youngest member of Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA), and San Diego Press Club, and the youngest honoree of Cox Communications annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Perry has been a frequent star on the red carpet and credentialed journalist interviewing filmmakers and stars at major film festivals, movie premieres, and press junkets. He is a speaker at a TEDx conference.

Perry has become an authoritative spokesperson for his generation about movies with his insight and humor from a child’s perspective, combining entertainment and education for kids.  Perry is also an award-winning artist, filmmaker and animator, partnering with Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton to create a new animation short, Beyond the Forest, about a young Jewish girl’s survival during the Holocaust.  Perry became a national sensation on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and NPR with Liane Hansen.  He has been extensively featured on regional, national and international media.  Perry’s Previews webseries is slated to launch in the summer of 2010. Visit http://www.perryspreviews.com for details.

Kevin Sean Michaels- Director

Kevin Sean Michaels was born and raised in New York City. He started making films at age thirteen with a Super 8 home movie camera in the style of silent movies. Michaels was the Art Director for Troma Entertainment for three and a half years, working closely with filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman on Troma’s film Poultrygeist! Night of the Chicken Dead,  as well as numerous DVD extras. He founded his own production company, Vamp Productions in 2005.

Michaels is known for his documentaries, Vampira: The Movie was his first documentary released on Alpha Video in 2008. Since then, he has produced The Wild World of Ted V.Mikels, about the grind-house filmmaker, due in stores March, 2010 also on Alpha Video. In 2008, Michaels met David Lynch and is producing a documentary, Beyond The Noise about a teenager’s journey learning Transcendental Meditation.

He is working on a project with horror legend Ingrid Pitt on an animated short on her experiences in the Holocaust with 10 year old art prodigy Perry Chen and two-time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton.

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