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HomeCraftsAnimationInside Out Sweeps, Global Animation Across Multiple Media Celebrated at 43rd Annies

Inside Out Sweeps, Global Animation Across Multiple Media Celebrated at 43rd Annies

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(All photos by David Derks).
(Photos by David Derks).

Created by animation’s living godmother, June Foray, in 1972, the Annies, the awards show presented by ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation), specifically its Hollywood branch, has become a celebration of diversity in every sense, not merely honoring films and series from around the globe both large and small, but also giving credibility to all forms of animation – 2D hand-drawn, 3D computer-graphics, claymation, cut-out, puppet-based, stop-motion of various strands, and other key incarnations.

Indeed, while Pixar Animation Studios’ widely lauded computer-generated feature film Inside Out won the coveted best picture award, plus nine other awards recognizing individuals who worked on the film, other categories trumpeted animation achievements on independent projects, TV series, short films, commercials, student films, projects aimed at children, and animated work within an overall live-action project. Moreover, much of this work was assembled with an international team of artists.

Case in point, nominated for best feature directing and best feature film storyboarding, Extraordinary Tales was created in Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium and the United States. Director Raul Garcia, born in Spain, spent nine years on the “labor of love” from his Los Angeles base, which he described at an elaborate Annies after-party as a horror-tinged animated project. Appropriately, he gained limited theatrical distribution on Halloween, 2015, and is now entering the home video phase.

Annies Presenters Edward James Olmos and Rita Moreno
Annies Presenters Edward James Olmos and Rita Moreno

Spawned from the successful How to Train Your Dragon films, DreamWorks Animation Television’s show Dragons, winner of the award for character animation in a TV or broadcast series – and nominee in many other categories – was largely animated with work executed in Taiwan, said Annies’ character animation winner, Chi-Ho Chan.

Unbelievably, now in its 27th season, The Simpsons won the award for top televised/broadcast production for their “Halloween of Horror” episode. When asked in an impromptu moment how his show has survived a stunning 27 years as a prime-time TV show, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening said, simply, “We try to surprise ourselves. Sure, we try to surprise the audience, but, first, we always try to surprise ourselves.”

Peppered amongst the panoply of awarded categories were several lifetime achievement awards. While June Foray herself appeared only on video for undisclosed reasons, an award in her name was given to producer Don Hahn who spoke eloquently of his work in the famed animation building on the Disney lot on films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Hahn’s vivid descriptions included the identifiable sights and smells in the legendary Disney building and his reverence for the multitudes of talent who brought those and many other classics to life, largely in traditional two-dimensional form.

Phil Roman Accepts Windsor McCay Award
Phil Roman Accepts Windsor McCay Award

Additional lifetime achievements in the form of Windsor McCay Awards went to the late Joe Ranft, a key story artist and creative wellspring on the first two Pixar features, Toy Story and A Bug’s Life; Phil Roman, who daringly began his own boutique animation studio in his middle-aged years with only three employees, only to see it expand to 500 employees within 10 years, and Isao Takahata, a key figure in 2D Japanese animation who was regaled by noted historian Charles Solomon.

Of the staggering collection of animation styles and nations represented at the Annies, ASIFA-Hollywood’s executive director Frank Gladstone noted the medium’s overall exponential growth over the past 30 years. “Technology has helped democratize animation,” he said. “To make an animated feature years ago, you needed hundreds and hundreds of artists. It’s still great if you have hundreds and hundreds of artists, but you can also do a feature with just a few artists and anywhere in the world, rather than only one or two countries.”

Additionally, Gladstone pointed to the increase in the venues for which animation is now being utilized in the industry at large. “When I was coming up 40 some-odd years ago as animator, you had commercials, you had some TV, and you had one feature every few years,” he noted. “Now, you have features everywhere, they can be done all different ways. Instead of animation as a genre by itself, now there are subgenres of animation. At the end of the day, there is a certain magic about it. It’s become something that everybody watches. They can find what they like; so you can get niche films or big films. That’s really exciting.”

ASIFA-Hollywood Executive Director Gladstone
ASIFA-Hollywood Executive Director Gladstone

Regardless of his citation of animation’s current mammoth position in the industry, Gladstone noted ASIFA-Hollywood and the Annies were originally created to fill a definite void in that stead. “When it started, nobody else was giving us any kudos,” he explained, “so we are going to give ourselves kudos. We are still doing that. The difference is that the motion picture industry now takes us seriously. That’s a great thing. We’re saying, ‘Look at the work we’ve done. Congratulations to us.’”

Alas, the undeniable presence at the Feb. 6 Annies was Pixar and their triumphant 2015 feature Inside Out, which many observers point to as Pixar’s finest original work in many years after a slew of sequels which were output since their sale to Disney. On hand both to accept the best director and best feature award and to present a posthumous award to his friend, the aforementioned Joe Ranft, Pete Docter has been a key creative partner at Pixar since the studio’s earliest days.

Best Director Winner Pete Docter
Best Director Winner Pete Docter

Though Pixar has been known to keep much of its methodologies in-house, Docter was affable and candid about the process by which Inside Out was developed at Pixar’s Bay Area facility. “Truth is, we have our down periods, for sure, on every single film,” he revealed. “We just don’t show it to you until we’ve worked through that and have something that we’re proud of. Our process allows us to make a lot of mistakes and try again, and make a mistake, and try again. By the time you’ve seen it, we’ve basically made eight films worth of the movie in an attempt to make it work. Inside Out was about five years from the very beginning to the end.”

Using his personal life as inspiration for the film, Docter noted Inside Out’s intricate origins. “Watching my daughter grow up, it’s a very difficult thing,” he said. “You’re struggling to figure things out and find your place in the world. Really, it conjured up my own memories of me growing up. The thing I love about the whole thing is there’s no easy answer. I think that’s what makes for interesting drama – when it’s not cut-and-dry, yes-and-no, black-and-white kind of thing. Life is full of gray, and that’s what I think makes for good stories.”

Of note, Docter and Inside Out will next be up for a best animated feature Oscar at the Academy Awards on Feb. 28.

The Winners of the 43rd annual Annie Awards are:

Best Animated Feature
Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Best Animated Special Production
He Named Me Malala – Parkes-MacDonald / Little Door

Best Animated Short Subject
Don Hertzfeldt – World of Tomorrow

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Commercial
“Man and Dog” – Psyop

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Preschool Children
Tumble Leaf – Episode: Mirror – Amazon Studios and Bix Pix Entertainment

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children
Wander Over Yonder – Episode: The Breakfast – Disney Television Animation

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for a General Audience
The Simpsons – Episode: Halloween of Horror – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox Television

Best Animated Feature-Independent
Boy and the World – Filme de Papel

Best Student Film
ed – Taha Neyestani, Sheridan College

Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Jon Reisch and Stephen Marshall – The Good Dinosaur – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Michael Balog, Jim Van Allen, Florent Andorra and Georg Kaltenbrunner – Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron – Sokovia Destruction – Marvel Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Television/Broadcast Production
Chi-Ho Chan – Dragons: Race to the Edge – Episode: “Have Dragon Will Travel, Part 1” –DreamWorks Animation Television

Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Feature Production
Allison Rutland – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Matthew Shumway, Adrian Millington, Blaine Toderian, Alexander Poei and Kevin Lan – The Revenant – The Bear (Judy) – Regency Enterprises, New Regency Pictures, Anonymous Content, M Productions, Appian Way, RatPac-Dune Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Video Game
David Gibson – Evolve –2K Games

Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in a TV/Broadcast Production
Craig Kellman – Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas – Screen Novelties and Warner Bros. Animation

Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Albert Lozano and Chris Sasaki – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production
Matt Braly – Gravity Falls – Episode: Northwest Mansion Mystery – Disney Television Animation

Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Pete Docter – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Music in a TV/Broadcast Production
Christopher Willis – Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Disney Television Animation

Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production
Michael Giacchino – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production
Kevin Dart, Sylvia Liu, Chris Turnham and Eastwood Wong – The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show – Episode: “Peabody’s Parents/Galileo” – DreamWorks Animation Television

Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Ralph Eggleston – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in a TV/Broadcast Production
Alonso Ramirez Ramos – Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Disney Television Animation

Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Tony Rosenast – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production
Kristen Schaal – Bob’s Burgers – Episode: Hawk & Chick – Twentieth Century Fox Television and Bento Box Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Phyllis Smith – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production
Steven Davis and Kelvin Yu – Bob’s Burgers – Episode: The Hauntening – Twentieth Century Fox Television Bento Box Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley – Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement for Editorial in a TV/Broadcast Production
Illya Owens – Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: Coned –Disney Television Animation

Outstanding Achievement for Editorial in an Animated Feature Production
Kevin Nolting – Inside Out –Pixar Animation Studios

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