sophie's animated annecy adventure
RMIT graduate Sophie Raymond
found out first-hand what it's like having your work shown at a major
European animation festival.
I would have to liken myself to a minnow or tuna or some such fish that
is anonymous as part of a larger school. For in Annecy, France, at the
International Festival of Animation, we all swam round in a strange faceless
A definition between animation makers and watchers was difficult to decipher.
Hundreds of quirky-looking people would pile into the venues hour after
hour and view animation after animation from all around the world. The
occasional Australian accent or unmistakable Aussie humour would reach
forth and tug on my nationalistic sensibilities--finding my solitary laughter
rising out of turn in amongst the international crowd.
Having a film in the student competition - there were no introductory
drinks, no introduction of the animators at the screening, nothing to
help us find our way, join forces, or distinguish ourselves amongst the
crowds. It wasn't until the last night, when walking through the rain
at four in the morning after the big festival closing party, that I discovered
through a somewhat drunken haze that some of the faces familiar to me
around the camping grounds were in fact animators with films in the student
Yes, we were camping--many of us, in fact. Drenched to the bone as we
trudged up the hill that night, one needed only to gaze down at the feet
of the others to see the similar nature of the shoestring path they had
taken to get here. This was by the by--we were initiated now.
Having your name associated with Annecy, in animation circles, carries
with it an instant recognition--of what, I'm not sure. Many immediately
sympathise with you over the strange impersonal atmosphere of the event,
and how disconcerting that can be. Others, I guess, take it as indication
of a certain standard at which you must be.
I have - in true Australian style - been surfing this wave through many
an animation studio in France and England on my travels, with Canada and
the United States to come. It is interesting to see how animation studios
function in relation to their relative markets.
One can't ignore cultural factors as well. Europe tends to nurture their
artists more, generally. The different countries have culturally-influenced
viewing tastes, which creates a varying market and focus too. To simplify
my observations into a trend: France has a big market for 2D traditional
animation ; the UK certainly has many more model animation studios.
One of the wonderful things about Annecy was watching these cultural sensibilities
articulated side by side in each program.
And Australia? To its credit, it had a larger than usual presence at Annecy
this year with animations from all mediums. Visiting Aardman Animations
(the creators of Wallace and Gromit, and easily the biggest claymation
company in Europe) and being introduced as an 'Australian animator', I
was often greeted with a complimentary comment on the quality of the Australian
work that they saw in the Annecy Festival. In fact, they are having their
own private Aardman screening of some the Australian work at the festival.
I was only too pleased to offer some advice as to what Australian beers
should accompany this event.
"Coopers and Melbourne Bitter," I said--I just don't drink Fosters.
Sophie Raymond's animated film,
Essence of Terror, was screened at the Annecy Animation Festival in France.
Annecy is one of the world's largest animation film festivals. Sophie made
Essence for her major examination piece in the Graduate Diploma of Animation
and Interactive Media (1997). It is a claymation film about a boy who explores
the contents of the bathroom's medicine cupboard. He discovers some delicious
green goo that which turns him into an adolescent rather more quickly than
is good for him. Sophie animated her story frame by frame onto 16 mm film.
It was post-produced on video using the Avid Media Composer at the RMIT
Centre for Animation and Interactive Media (AIM). In 1998 Sophie obtained
an Australian Film Commission grant to take the production to a 16 mm
print. Essence of Terror has proven popular with its audience and has been
picked up for distribution by the Australian Film Institute.
AIM coursework graduate 1997