Andy James works with Chautauqua students, including Shayla Malm, left, during a recent music class. Photo by Elizabeth Shepherd
My friend Andy James teaches elementary school on Vashon Island, a rural community a short ferry ride from Seattle. He’s got a real passion for teaching, and my conversations with him about it always leave me inspired. His latest project is no exception: faced with a new role as music teacher, he decided the thing to do would be to get the kids to compose, perform and record an entire album. And they did it. Not just any album, mind you: a concept album made entirely of original songs written by the kids, based on a South American folk story called “The Whistling Monster”. Now they’re selling the CD to raise funds for the school (and in the process help save Andy’s job, which like many teachers’ is on the chopping block). I haven’t heard the music yet, but if I know Andy it’ll be worth a listen!
The whole operation is pretty low-tech, so as of now you can’t buy the CD online. Update: Chautauqua Elementary School has made the CD available online! You can order it here in MP3 form or as a physical disk. Take a listen, and leave a comment below if you’ve got anything to say!
Two more festivals will be screening How to Make a Baby next Saturday night (May 22nd) in two different cities. The Santa Fe Reporter’s 3 Minute Film Festival (at the Lensic Performing Arts Centre, 211 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe, New Mexico), and a reprise screening of the Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival (at Samy’s Camera, 614 Chapala Street in Santa Barbara, California). Apparently last week’s SBMFF was so popular that they sold out the entire theater, so they’ve scheduled a second screening for everyone who was turned away at the door the first time.
The film has also brought home some accolades: it earned an Honorable Mention from the Disposable Film Fest, and was voted in the Top Five by the jury at the SBMFF. We’ve submitted it to a bunch of other festivals, so stay tuned for updates. If you want to keep track of the all film’s screenings and awards, you can find the whole list on the
project’s festival page.
The DFF was such an overwhelmingly fun experience, it got us completely hooked on the film festival buzz. So over the past month I’ve been submitting “How to Make a Baby” to various festivals, and we’re starting to hear back from some of them. One of them, the Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival, is right around the corner! It’s happening on Saturday, May 1st at 8pm at the Faulkner Gallery (40 East Anapamu Street) in Santa Barbara, California. I won’t be able to make it to the event in person, unfortunately, but if you happen to be in the area, stop by the screening and let me know how it goes!
Hey “How to Make a Baby” fans: remember that super cool film festival we were in last month? Well, they’ve opened up their competitive shorts program to voting by the public. If you liked our film, please:
VOTE FOR IT!
If you can see the embedded video above, just click the little heart to let them know you “like” the film. Also, one voter selected at random will win something called a “DFF Survival Kit”. (Personally, I didn’t find DFF particularly hard to survive, but I’m sure it’s a very cool kit, whatever it is!) Voting closes May 31st.
Just got back from the wrap party for “How to Train Your Dragon” in Hollywood. At one point, a bunch of us animators were hanging out on the dance floor, and there was this line of people all taking photos of us at once. These two photos, by Jen Stern and Lilian Ku, must have been shot within a fraction of a second of each other. So I stitched them together into an animated gif. Check us out in 3D!
The Disposable Film Fest opening night was a fantastic show. From the very start you could tell that the curators had great taste. Every film had something unique about it: an inspiring use of cheap technology, a fresh visual idea, or just a really funny story. I found myself grinning and bouncing through most of the show. And it was wonderful to see our short film with a live audience, because it got an amazing reaction. (When even the title card got a laugh, I could tell that the crowd was ready to have some fun!) And the organizers couldn’t have been nicer people, with a fun, lighthearted approach to things that was reflected in every aspect of the event (like the message projected above before the show began). Here’s a small collection of some of my favorite films from the opening night event.
The festival is continuing throughout this weekend, with more short films and even features. I highly recommend checking it out!
An update on the Disposable Film Festival: apparently tickets for tonight’s 8pm screening at the Roxie are already sold out, so they’ve added a 10pm show! Tickets available here, and other info here.
Good news: our short film, How to Make a Baby, is heading for the silver screen! It will be in the competitive shorts program at the wonderfully named Disposable Film Festival. The big event is Thursday, March 4th at 8pm at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater. Sure, you’ve seen it on the internet. But the Roxie’s screen is, like, a million feet wide! How big is your screen? You can buy tickets in advance if you like, and there’s a party next door after the screening. Come hang out with us and all the other disposables!
The other day at the office I was talking with some friends about animation, art, code, math. You know, the usual stuff. The subject of beauty came up, and it occurred to me that beauty, in all of these different disciplines, is often associated with elegant solutions to problems. Beautiful math explains complex phenomena with simple formulas, while beautiful animation accomplishes rich and layered storytelling goals with seemingly simple actions.
A couple of days later I stumbled on Daniel White’s amazing 3D fractal images, via my friend Saschka. I’ve been a fan of fractals since reading Mandelbrot’s book in high school. The Mandelbrot set is this rare creature that’s beautiful both mathematically (an elegant formula) and visually (rewarding exploration with endless variety). Like everybody else, I wondered whether something as beautiful could exist in three dimensions (or more, for that matter!) Until recently, though, nothing had turned up. There were beautiful shapes made using complex formulas, and elegant formulas that made ho-hum images, but nothing as sublime as Mandelbrot’s set. This thing, though, looks very promising!
If you like math even a little bit, it’s really worth reading White’s account of how these images got made. The guy wrote his own renderer, for crying out loud!
Daniel White doesn’t seem convinced yet that this object is the “real” 3D Mandelbrot, and I’m inclined to agree: as stunning as it is visually, there’s something a bit unwieldy about the formula, with all its thetas and phis. But what’s wonderful is the way White and his colleagues are conducting their search. They’re not content with just one kind of beauty. It won’t be “real” to them unless it has both!
I guess there are two different trailers making the rounds. This one is the “international” trailer (which I think really means “not the USA or Canada”.) It’s interesting to see how they pitch the movie slightly differently to different audiences. The same warnings apply: watch this only if you don’t mind spoilers!