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Tor published an excellent article yesterday about how Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind not only helped found Studio Ghibli, but set Miyazaki on the path that would define his career. It is one of the best postings I have seen on the subject, exploring both its influences and results, and now I am going to have to break the film out and watch it again, 30 years after its initial release, and see just how close she came to telling the true story. Pretty close, I am thinking.

The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2017 entries are still open, and will be until March 21st, which is also their deadline for VR Theater entries. So you still have a bit of time to submit your projects to the gathering, which will be held from July 30th to August 3rd in Los Angeles this year. Yes, the competition can be daunting; after all, these are most of the folks doing serious VR and Animation work on the planet. But if you have something that you are proud of and willing for others to see, this could be the perfect venue for you to put your work in the public eye. And maybe it might be you standing on stage and accepting the award this year.

I just watched Moana, and out of it’s short list of animation riggers, a name caught my eye: Kate Kirby-OConnell. One of the hardest jobs on an animation project is to take a 3D Character Model and Rig it, meaning give it a bone structure you can embed inside its flesh and use to animate every aspect of that character. Yes, that bone structure does exactly the same thing as the bones in a human body, giving it a structure for the action to take place on. Emotions and actions being obvious expressions of that process, props and costumes less so but still tied tightly to the rigging. Think about it; if the character moves, but the characters clothing or coffee cup doesn’t, just how believable would that be? Kate created a number of examples of her skill set while in school, as every animator does, and the first one amounts to her Demo Reel, showing off what she can do. I think the others show both that plus her inspiration or perhaps motivation. I loved Moana and the earlier Disney works Kate was involved with, it is nice to learn something about the creators of world-class animations like this.

Kate Kirby-O'Connell Rigging Reel – Summer 2013 from Kate Kirby-OConnell on Vimeo.

Project Faces from Kate Kirby-OConnell on Vimeo.

Jack of All Shapes from Kate Kirby-OConnell on Vimeo.

Building T.rex from Kate Kirby-OConnell on Vimeo.

I am wishing I lived in Toronto, and considering spending the Xmas/New Years holidays there, just so I can attend Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli. They will be playing pretty much every Ghibli film ever made, starting on December 24th with Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, all masterpieces by Hayao Miyazaki. I have only seen a small handful on the big screen, it would be amazing to see the entire collection presented that way. That is starting exactly one month from today, if you happen to make this event be sure to tell me all about it!

Studio Ghibli has done amazing animations over the years, and in this fan made video from Kojer called Studio Ghibli in Real Life we get to see just that. If you have done any work with video editing and compositing you will recognize just how masterful this creation is, but anyone without those skill sets who loves Ghibli will want to live in the world where this kind of thing can happen. Thanks to Otaku USA for the heads up on this one!

Flip Flappers is the most visually interesting anime of the new season, as well as being more than a little surreal. It compares favorably with Gurren-Lagann, FLCL (pronounced Fooly Cooly), and Paprika, at least so far. We will have to see if the story can grow as amazing as the visuals, like the other three I mentioned did. There are only three episodes posted so far, so if you like the first one you can binge your way through it in just over an hour.