Category Archives: Profiles

MinnAnimate Profile: Dane Cree

dcree_octostill_2013

Why do you like animation?

 

It allows us to show the audience multiple versions of compositions that could stand alone.

Moving imagery + sound = more sensory stimulation

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

 

Painting, video, performance, installation always in an experimental fashion.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

Ryan Larkin, Allison Schulnik, Andreas Hykade

 

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

 

More screens and projectors running animations publicly around the twin cities (on loop).

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MinnAnimate Profile: Scott Wenner

Mysterious_Letter_still

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your animation.

 

I’ve been working in animation and motion graphics for about 12 years. Right now, I’m the Creative Director at motion504 in Minneapolis. 

 

Why do you like animation?

 

I’ve been drawing and painting for as a long as I can remember. Making those drawings or ideas come to life is like nothing else.

Once you’ve animated something, it’s hard to go back to making static pieces.

 

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

 

I’m showing two pieces that are very different in style, but are both based on poems. French Movie is an all CG mood piece that uses the camera as protagonist. The poem runs through various familiar or even clichéd french film vignettes and I tried to illustrate those ideas using only environment and props.  Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter is a character driven piece about that moment when, for a split second, you think you see a loved one who has passed away long ago.

 

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

 

I’m an active painter and I also try to get involved in live action filmmaking now and then by lending visual effects help

to filmmaker friends.

 

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

 

I get inspired by a pretty diverse crowd. I grew up on Looney Tunes, so definitely Chuck Jones. I’m also a big Don Bluth fan. Ken Anderson, who art directed 101 Dalmations. And there are so many super talented people out there making great stuff lately like Ben Hibbon, the teams at Buck and Giant Ant, Scott Benson, Art & Graft, the list could go on and on.

 

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

 

  The market in Minnesota is very, very small. It can be challenging to get started and sometimes feels like a roller coaster. That said, the beauty of animation is that you can do it anywhere and there are so many platforms online to get your work seen. The majority of my clients are not local. You definitely don’t have to live in LA to have an animation career anymore, but you might have to hustle a little bit more.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Brian Barber

Keepaways Poster Frame

Why do you like animation?

I like pulling the pieces together – pictures, sound, scenes, angles, music, editing and pacing. With animation, you can emphasize and exaggerate some things and ignore other things.
Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.
This was a music video done for Duluth’s Homegrown festival. For 5 years, filmmakers have been given a random song from a local band and then they make a video for it. The first year, we only had a weekend, but after that the timeline has stretched to a couple of months. This is my 4th contribution to the Homegrown Music Video Festival. I’m lucky the Keepaways were willing to play along and have some fun with this, they really made it come together.
Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
I am an illustrator, designer and I do some photography. I worked for 10 years as an advertising art director, and got involved with TV production for clients, and did animated solutions for many of them. I still do several animated commercials a year for my own clients now.
Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

Too many to list, but John K., Daniels, Craig McCracken, Chip Waas, and countless people I’ve never heard of who put their work on Vimeo.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?
I think it’s pretty good, I manage to make a living from a combination of animation, design and illustration, so I feel really lucky. And people seem open and receptive to animation and different styles.

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MinnAnimate Profile: John Akre

John_Akre_head

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your animation.

 

Between the ages of 10 and 17 or so I made many super 8 animated shorts with clay characters and paper cut-outs, but slowed down in my late teens. Years later, I decided that I was really missing out, that animation was something I really should have kept on doing, so I started teaching myself how to use some of the new-fangled animation software that is out today. I really love putting together the stop motion types of things I did when I was young with some of the technological wonders of the age. Mostly, I like to use animation to tell the little stories that I keep coming up with.

 

I also want to do animation in the public realm, so I have been experimenting by doing stop motion animation with random bystanders at some of the Open Streets events going on around Minneapolis.

Why do you like animation?

 

I like animation because it moves. That movement roots it in reality so the drawings, clay parts and collages I make seem almost real, but are exaggerated and simplified, visibly not real. I also like animation because I can create entire worlds and movies all by myself.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

 

“Unpop: The Story of Lenny Holwar,” is one of a series of histories I have been making. These histories usually feature famous people who you have never heard about. I am also showing some animation I created with people on the street at the Central Open Streets event. I set up a little station to create stop motion animation and ask people to pose or come up with some action that we can animate then and there on the street.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

 

I like to draw and make music and write stories and poetry. It all ends up in my animation work, which is maybe why I like animation so much, because it is the art that puts together all the arts.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

 

Some of my favorites are Otto Mesmer, who made Felix the Cat one of the greatest stars of the 1920’s, Norman McLaren, who made animation out of everything, Quirino Cristiani, who made some of the earliest animated features and wasn’t afraid to put politics into his cartoons, Gene Deitch, who continues to reinvent animation and to find ways to do the work he wants to do and make a living doing it, and Bill Scott, who was the voice, pen, and genius behind Bullwinkle the Moose.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

 

Minnesota is a good place. I want to do animation here and meet other people doing animation here, which is why I organized MinnAnimate. I think there’s a growing animation scene here, and I think it will continue growing into the future. I know this because I have been teaching animation camps in the summer and teaching other animation classes to young people, and see how many teens there are interested in animating things.


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MinnAnimate Profile: Emily Fritze

emily fritze profilePic

Probably everyone in the business has heard the saying that animators are shy actors, and I think that’s true in my case. I like telling stories but not public speaking, so animation is perfect for me.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.
Nate Sipes of the bluegrass band Pert Near Sandstone wrote this cool song called “Ship of Fools” that recalls this mythic custom originating in Renaissance times of putting all the town crazies on a boat, and sending them down the coast, picking up lunatics until they ran out of places to go, just aimlessly floating and being in a situation that becomes more and more surreal and mad. Kind of like a party bus, but with scurvy and death. This animation illustrates that concept, and was inspired by the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
I like to sketch in ballpoint, and I also do digital illustrations that sometimes end up being concept paintings for animations I’d like to do. My sketchbooks are full of weird characters, and I come up with ideas for stories by building plots around those characters.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?
My new favorite is the short “Bee and Puppycat” by Natasha Allegri, who was a writer and art director on Adventure Time. Another AT person, Rebecca Sugar, does great work and is on the verge of being the first woman to helm her very own show on Cartoon Network, Steven Universe, so she’s a hero of mine. Stylistically I admire the scratchy art of Heidi Smith, who worked on Paranorman, and Carter Goodrich.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?
Coming from South Dakota, MN is a great place for animation! I really think there’s a solid network of like-minded people in the area, but we need to be more prominent in the film/arts community.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Michelle Brost

 leonard

Why do you like animation?

I wanted to study animation at MCAD literally because it was the only medium I knew absolutely nothing about, and wanted to try my hand at. I love to draw, I always have, so I felt my skills there would see me through. Once I finished my first character animation class I knew I wanted to be an animator. I love making things move, and telling stories. I like to make people laugh.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

“Leonard” is a project I made in my senior year at MCAD. I wrote it initially to fit within the time constraints we were given (no more than 2 minutes). I wanted to do something funny, or at least funny to me, since I’d be working on it pretty much all the time for about 10 months. It is the first fully realized animation I’ve made.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

Before I became pretty engrossed in animation as a digital format, I loved to paint with watercolor. I’m really attracted to bright palettes, which is probably why “Leonard” is so saturated in color. I also used some watercolor textures in the backgrounds that I had scanned into Photoshop. I also love film, so my approach to animation tends to be very cinematic and less “cartoon” like. I’ve been told I have a naturalistic style of animation…I animate characters based on how they would move in real life.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

David O’Reilly is probably my all-time favorite contemporary animator. He uses 3D low poly characters in really conceptual and interesting ways. He’s also not afraid to tell people what’s on his mind, and he’s a very accessible artist – I’ve had conversations with him on twitter and via email. As far as structure and writing, I think I’m very influenced by Wes Anderson, specifically his stop motion “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”. It was the first animation I saw that really opened my mind to the possibilities of the medium.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

I think there are a lot of opportunities to make work in Minnesota with all the artist grants that are available. There are a couple animation studios in town that were started by MCAD grads. From that point of view, I think MCAD gives its students the skill and work ethic to be able to be successful. Once you graduate and overcome the student loan dread, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. On the other hand, you don’t even need to go to college to be an animator. Tom Schroeder, who was one of my animation teachers at MCAD, just started making films because it was what he wanted to do. Now he’s a pretty successful independent animator. I think that’s kind of awesome, and it definitely inspires me. 
 
I think to make Minnesota a better place for animation, we just need to keep supporting artists. Especially young kids who show an interest in the arts…I knew a lot of kids when I was younger who weren’t supported in their artistic talents and they just stopped using them. I was very lucky and had a very supportive family, but there were always comments from my peers such as “you have too much time on your hands” or I had people asking me if I was going to be a “starving artist”. I didn’t care about those comments then, and I don’t care about them now. I do what I can to live, and make work, and it couldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had even the tiniest bit of support. So, supporting and encouraging young artists is absolutely essential.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Wolfgang Wick

Spaceman Jones
Why do you like animation?

I think it’s a fun way to pass the time, but most importantly I feel that, in the end, animations look far better on screen than people do.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

It’s a short about SPACE NATURE (include dramatic voice when reading) documentation, that takes a turn for the silly.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

Unfortunately, no. It makes it incredibly difficult for me to animate due to the fact that I have no skill with sculpting, drawing, or tailoring. I feel my sets and characters always come up short.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

Tim Burton and Henry Selick are the two that come to mind right away. Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie are wonderful films that I adore, although Coraline is by far my favorite film.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

It doesn’t seem like a bad place to do animation, but I’m not really a good judge for that. I really think that to make it a better place for animation, we just need more animators.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Greg Bro

FPFF_stillForLACS-1

Why do you like animation?
I love how animation blends some of my favorite forms of creative expression; writing, drawing, and yelling strange voices into a microphone. I love how one can use the elements of visuals, timing, and sound to tell a story, convey a mood, or just make someone laugh. Animation is a craft that’s uniquely rewarding in that it truly gives you what you’re willing to put into it. You just have to be crazy enough to endure. If you’re willing to take that time though, the rewards are endless.
Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.
At the Burger Buddy, you never know who might stop by for a burger & some fries. Written, voiced, and animated by Greg Bro, “Famous People. Fast Food.” debuted at the 2013 L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival.
Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
I love writing, humor, and storytelling, so they’re natural elements that feed into my animated work. I find I can’t even doodle now without thinking of them in the context of a fuller narrative.
Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?
Hard to say. It can truly vary from project to project. I find I am just as influenced by live action storytelling as I am by animated media. Visually though I tend to enjoy the richer visuals of children’s shows (Adventure Time, Regular Show, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and the writing/humor of the more adult oriented programming (South Park, Bob’s Burgers, Breaking Bad). If you make your brain available, there’s inspiration everywhere.
Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

I believe the potential is there. The conduit between the creative and their audience is a little more challenging to find in MN, but the talent and the appetite for it is there. There needs to be more opportunities, like MinnAnimate, for artists to showcase their work and connect with an audience.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Dave and Mary Sandberg

daveandmary

We work as a team. We worked commercially in California and Minnesota from the mid 70ʼs until about 2000. We wanted to do animation for adults and together we created the feature My Art School Summer. Since then – we work on shorts and Dave teaches Character Animation and Storyboard at MCAD.
We like mixing theater/story and drawing. Dave has been drawing comics with the Cartoonist Conspiracy, and making mini comics that become storyboards for us to animate – and that is how Climate Conference came into being.
Favorite inspirational animators; Tex Avery, Jay Ward, Bruno Bozzetto, Picha and Renaissance paintersʼ drawing skills.
Longer winters would give more time indoors animating; we never get much animation done in the summer.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Mahieu Studios

Mahieu Studios Productions

Mahieu Studios Productions consists of illustrator and artist, Mahieu Spaid, and animator, Levi Spaid. We are a husband and wife team. I, Mahieu, create the original drawings and storyline for my husband to animate. The idea for our animation, Life Under the Dome, came about when I started illustrating new cartoon characters for my first children’s book, Adventures of Lucy and Bryan: King of Wild Island. I’ve always been a fan of anime, manga and comics. This year instead of wondering how the animators did everything I went out and purchased my first digital drawing pad. I started creating digital drawings and couldn’t stop. I loved the way my characters looked in print but something was missing. I like animation because it brings more personality to my drawings and illustrations. As an artist I think of the way a character will act, look, and speak. sometimes a flat 2D drawing isn’t enough. There was something missing from the experience I wanted to provide to people who enjoy my work.
Luckily, my husband, Levi is quick to learn new programs and technologies. He helped bring my characters to life so the picture is complete. An animation combines all the senses and reaches out to the audience in a way a 2D print can’t. Some of the animators or people in animation that I was influenced by were Hayao Miyazaki and Richard Williams. I remember reading and seeing his Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki’s work was different from what I was used to seeing on television. I remember staying up late during a school night just to see some of his directed work on TV. I also love “classic” animator’s like Richard Williams, who produced large productions, like Toy Story. Some of the animators like Richard survived the industry for more than forty years. I loved the fact that he produced a book called The Animator’s Survival Kit.

Here in Minnesota, we need to have a larger presence for animators. I remember talking with students going to school for animation in this state and their teacher telling them they would probably have to move to California to continue their schooling. I’d love to see more animators from Minnesota carve out a name for themselves with the east and west coast competition. In other words, thank you for posting your group on the art boards and putting together film festivals for those of us who love animation.

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