Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Zealand Finds Its Animation Groove

We blather about overseas animation from time to time, but we seldom say much about what the kiwis are doing:


... An X-rated 90-second cartoon sex romp created by Auckland-based animator Laban Dickinson became an edgy online viral campaign promoting a men's hair wax product. He isn't certain if it resulted in increased sales of hair wax but he does know that "drawing boobs for a year was pretty fun". The cartoon, which features breasts, nudity and erections, was certainly controversial: one disapproving blogger wrote: "All I see are nasty cartoon people looking like they're doing it." ...

[New Zealand's] animation industry ... is booming. "New Zealand, this year, has got more international product out there in the market than ever before," says Brent Chambers, managing director of Flux Animation Studio and a 20-year veteran of the business. He lists television series such as Jane and the Dragon, Staines Down Drains, Master Raindrop, The Adventures of Bottle Top Bill and Milly, Molly (popular kids' shows made here and screening in several countries, including Australia and the United States) as examples ...

[I]ncreasing numbers of New Zealanders are putting their skills and training as animators to good - and very diverse - use ... Animation is widely applied in New Zealand-made TV advertisements, series and feature films as well as in emerging fields such as viral internet campaigns. Animators and visual effects artists are also key players in the development of cutting-edge video games ...

I remember well visual effects artists, after fifteen years at Warners, Imageworks and Rhythm and Hues, telling me their next gig was at WETA in far-off Wellington, working on King Kong.

They were amazed that there was a sizable visual effects house on a small island in the south Pacific, yet there it was, another example of animation going global. But it didn't surprise me a whole lot. I recalled when I was herding children along a Honolulu Street and a local pointed out a skyscraper that housed a big animation studio.

"They're doing some c.g.i. feature called Final Fantasy. They've got over a hundred people working for them ..."

Turned out it was a Japanese game company moving into animated features; later I found out that several L.A. storyboard artists I knew had been lured from the mainland to work on the project.

Who knows? If the picture hadn't underperformed in a major way, there might still be an animation studio in Honolulu, making yet another Pacific island with an animation industry.


Anonymous said...

no link to the "X-rated 90-second cartoon sex romp"?

Just for professional development purposes, of course.

Steve Hulett said...

We're a family blog

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