ISACON- My Experience at an Irish Animation Convention [Day one]

Delicious cocktails, jokes about the Irish loving sheep and inspiring down to earth Industry heads, what more could you ask for from an animation convention?
I suppose I should offer some background first. You see, I study classical and computer animation in BCFE in Ireland, a course which has produced a rather suprising amount of established and high achieving animators and artists (Richard Baneham being probably the most notable for his Oscar win for Avatar). The college runs a convention, ISACON (Irish School of Animation), where several talented animators, layout artists, professors etc come to our college campus and The Sugar Club venue in Dublin and give workshops, masterclasses and lectures to students, game developers, and fellow animators.
The Anna Brett Hall, BCFE

The first day commenced with an hour and a half with the traditional Irish storyteller, Niall de Burca, who spoke passionately and joyfully about the importance of storytelling in culture, while he regaling us with old irish tales, interspersed with sprinkles of our native language gaelige (which I, regrettably, don’t understand). A good example of how refreshingly upbeat he was, is that he even seemed somehow optimistic about his car going ablaze the night before. Must be a Galway thing.
He was followed by Marec Fritzinger, a German BCFE graduate and a layout artist with a résumé including Tarzan, Hercules and Despicable Me, who gave us a run through of layout in animation, and attempted to dispel the widely believed notion that layout is JUST backgrounds, when its so much more. A layout artist in feature films must be a set designer, a camera man, and essentially be the director’s eyes.

Then came Graham Gallagher, another BCFE graduate, former Disney employee and current Videogame animator/ conceptual artist for Eurocom, came next. He spoke about the growing simularities between feature and videogame animation, and gave advice on how to break into the industry. He was followed by Tony White, an industry veteran who’s blog is well worth a look for any aspiring animators. He gave us a masterclass on walk cycles.

The Sugar Club, Lower Leeson St.
Later that evening, we converged in The Sugar Club, a cosy venue in the center of Dublin, for a presentation entitled ‘The Pixar Experience’ with Adam Burke and a panel discussion with the speakers from the day. Adam Burke has worked on films like Toy Story 3, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, and my favourite, the Day & Night short that ran before Toy Story 3. He gave us a detailed run through of the production of a Pixar film, from initial inception to the long and arduous development to eventual finished product. He also gave us fascinating insights into the world of Pixar, about the importance of a collaborative and trusting environment, to the fact that they have garden sheds indoors rather than cubicles (one employee even has a 2 story shed). It made me appreciate Pixar even more then before, because they really are pioneers and enthusiastic people, who constantly work hard at developing new ways to tell their stories.
His talk was followed by a panel discussion featuring all the lecturers of the day and chaired by Tomm Moore, director of Oscar nominated The Secret of Kells and co founder of its studio, Cartoon Saloon, who had spent all week thinking of interesting topics for the panel to talk about and wrote them on his iPhone, only for it to die! Overall though, the first day of two was hugely informative, and all who went thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Naturally, we weren’t ones to dissapoint irish stereotypes, as we listened intently with our complimentary cocktails and beers in hand, oh and free Pizza.

Above picture L-R: Graham Gallagher, Marec Fritzinger, Tomm Moore, Adam Burke. Picture by Tony White

If anyone has any questions about the con or its speakers, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m sure theres some animation enthusiasts among the fantastic movieblog community!

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