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Original author: 
David Pescovitz

The Association for Computing Machinery's annual SIGGRAPH conference is where you will find many of the most incredible, edgiest developments in computer graphics research. Above is the video trailer for this year's "Technical Papers" program. SIGGRAPH 2013 takes place July 21-25 in Anaheim, California.    

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Three months before Toy Story was released, Pixar owner Steve Jobs took to the stage at the SIGGRAPH conference and explained why the film represented a major leap in film technology. It’s a rare bit of animation history that I was happy to discover on YouTube:

(via @Jonezee99)

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Easy Way (Camino Fácil) by Juan David Velasquez Bedoya is from Bogota, Colombia, a country where CG animation is just starting to emerge. It’s about 8-minutes and well worth a look. It’s a metaphor for life, as Juan David explains:

Easy Way is the story of a man who, from childhood to adulthood, is prepared to follow a specific path. When he begins his travels, he discovers that it is more difficult than he thought. He decides to change course to a path that seems easier, but the travel is equally difficult – and he’s unprepared for this new challenge.

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Animator/designer Gabriel H. Fermanelli has turned me on to the commercials he’s producing through Punga, a collective of artists in Buenos Aires who specialize in animation and branding. Fermanelli co-directed a series of spots for Wrangler Jeans (with Tomas Dieguez); this one is my favorite:

Fermanelli’s latest stylishly designed spot is for Volvo, featuring Sloths:

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If the Mexican Top Cat feature isn’t your cup of tea, here’s the slick trailer for Ana, a 3-D CG feature directed by Carlos Carrera currently being produced in Mexico. The production company Lo Coloco Films has a placeholder website for now. A Hollywood Reporter piece from three years ago suggested the film’s budget was only $3.2 million which I find kind of hard to believe. But even if it that number doubles or triples, it’s still a bargain compared to American and European animated features.

There’s not much to go by in this trailer, but Carrera has a strong track record as a director. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 2002 live-action film El crimen del Padre Amaro, and earlier he made animated shorts, like El héroe (below) which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

UPDATE: A five-minute clip from Ana was posted today on the film’s Facebook page. The release date on Facebook is listed as May, 2013.

(Thanks, Elisa H. García)

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Check out Loom, an amazing piece from German studio Polynoid:

CREDITS
Directors: Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay
Technical director: Fabian Pross
Production company: Filmakademie BW
Producer: Regina Welker
Sound: Joel Corelitz / waveplant
Artists:Felix Mertikat, Jin-Ho Jeon, Roman Kälin, Tom Weber, Christian Hertwig, Silke Finger, Jacob Frey, Leszek Plichta, Georg Schneider, Anja Wacker, Andreas ‘Felix’ Gebhardt, Falko Paeper, Sarah Eim

(Thanks, Charlie Gore)

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Canadian artist Eric Bates made Sayonara while studying animation in Japan at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. “This story was inspired by my life in Japan and having to say goodbye myself,” he wrote on his site. “Every part of this animation abstractly relates to my experiences, friends, foods, things I saw, and things I felt over this time.”

I love the mix of minimally rendered CG, detailed puppet modelmaking, and hand-drawn animation It’s fun to watch how he put it all together in this video:

(Thanks, Tim McCourt)

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La Détente, a new short by Bertrand Bey and Pierre Ducos of London’s Not To Scale, has been selected to compete at Annecy 2011.

La Détente is an animated short movie set in a trench during the first World War, where a French soldier becomes paralyzed with fear. His mind disconnects from reality and he escapes into a dream world where wars are fought by toys.

Sounds good, looks great. It was recently screened at the Cannes film festival and is currently making the rounds at European film festivals. Here’s the trailer:

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Matatoro

Matatoro takes on “the hermetic world of bullfighting and its public, here reinvented and reinterpreted.” The short was made at Supinfocom Arles last year by Mauro Carraro, Raphaël Calamote, and Jérémy Pasquet. The music was composed by Pierre Manchot.

The film is ambitious stylistically: its nonphotorealistic rendering style mimics ink and watercolor to good effect, and the stylized animation and layouts emphasize the theatrical nature of bullfighting. There’s never any doubt that the film was made in CG—the smooth perfection of the camera gives it away—but the filmmakers’ application of the watercolor technique allows for some of the most exciting color I’ve seen in any recent CG short.

The imagery in Matatoro is thoughtful and thoughtprovoking. The filmmakers draw visual metaphors between bullfighting and flamenco dancing, carousel rides, and the circus, but in the end, the film asks viewers to reconsider whether it resembles any of those other less violent pastimes.

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