Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Encyclopedia Pictura

This weekend at the San Francisco International Animation Film Festival, my eyes were opened to a new world!
It is that of Encyclopedia Pictura. EP is an animating collective of three young men from Santa Cruz who are currently enjoying a lot of attention since their animation and production for Bjork's 'Wanderlust.' View here.

-Darren Rabinovitch, Sean Hellfritsch, and Isaiah Saxon of EP, and Sean Uyehara, Programmer of SFIAFF

Encyclopedia Pictura are definitely on top of their game. As designers /producers/ artists, they mix live action, digital animation, stop motion animation, and also they do stereoscopic 3D. Their work proves mastery of the latest animation technology (they use Maya, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and After Effects), as well as a well rounded sense of art. I think they must operate with %100 creativity and %100 tech skills, which is amazing to think about.

Because they are an independent cohesive unit, creating ground-breaking art, the three are reminiscent of a rock band- only they're animators. Music isn't the only situation where a small team of people can collaborate on an artistic vision and be successful and recognized for it!
*Note- This is also interesting considering our apparent switch to a visual culture these days*

The Animation Fest showed a series of their different short works, including Grow, Grizzly Bear: Knife, Bjork, Born Like Stars, Micro/Macro, Tactical Advantage, Seventeen Evergreen, Zion I: So Tall, Ballistic Jaw Propulsion of, and Spore.

I feel somewhat speechless trying to describe any of the pieces in words, because that's just it, their work is not about words but rather visuals complimenting sound. You can probably get that sense from watching Wanderlust. I can say however that when watching I was thinking about the idea of humans/earth as one. I kept noticing there seemed to be an emphasis on the beauty of (sometimes personified) natural non-human things (Watch Ballistic Jaw, Born Like Stars).

When the pieces were over and it was time for q and a, Founder Sean Uyehara had some news for us. The three guys hadn't arrived yet! Uyehara began to speak about their work when his phone rang. They were on the other line in the car on the way, so Uyehara held his phone to the microphone and we asked questions through him until they walked through the door to inspired applause. They had been sailing and got held up...

When asked about their vision, EP said, "We'd love to give people a sense of wonder through an experience that's not word based." I say mission accomplished.

Someone in the audience asked about if there's an underlying world view/ perspective that their work is made with. "It's an ecological perspective understanding the balance of all complex systems...Deep ecology," one of them responded (which means my thought of humans/earth as one sort of fits).

Even though Bjork offered them another music video deal, and also Animal Collective, a band they said they'd always wanted to work with (and also one of my favorite bands) apparently they're not doing music videos anymore. They didn't say why not.

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