Corrie Parks presents her Sand Animation Technique

October 28, 2011

Tonight at the Bolt Factory we were honored to host Corrie Francis Parks, an independent animator who is evolving the sand animation reminiscent of Caroline Leaf. She projected her filmography of graduate school films from University of Southern California to her most recent project, “A Tangled Tale” which is being funded by Kickstarter. Check out all of her inspiring works at


Costumed Life Drawing at ASIFA First Friday Nov. 4th!

October 13, 2011

Come on down to the ASIFA-Colorado Studio on November’s First Friday, November 4th, for a special Life Drawing event with Tarena Davis! She will be showcasing her fantastic costumes. We will be drawing from 7pm – 9pm. Bring your drawing supplies and a small donation for the model, any amount will be accepted. We will have cold and warm beverages and snacks on hand as we shake the rust out of our drawing skills. Hope to see you there!


World Animation Day Presents: Sand Animation

October 12, 2011

When: Friday, Oct. 28 @ 7pm
Where: the Bolt Facory, 209 Kalamath, Unit 7 (round back)


To kick off our World Animation Day events, sand animator Corrie Francis Parks will be screening some of her past films, and presenting a special demonstration of this rare technique including her work in progress “A Tangled Tale”. Corrie will also share her experiences with crowdfunding on as a new way to support independent productions. And for the animatedly adventurous, you’ll even have a chance to try some sand animation yourself after the show!

Parks is a freelance animator with 6 short films and several commissioned works under her belt. She has developed an unusual blend of traditional and digital animation techniques. Though she is currently based in Aspen, CO, Parks has travelled around the world in pursuit of creative inspiration, having worked professionally in New Zealand, Cameroon, and Spain.


Thoughts and Films from the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2011

September 30, 2011

My first experience of the Ottawa International Film Festival was as a student in 2000. My animation professor, David Ehrlich, drove me and another student through the wild expanses of Canada and set us loose at what was the first film festival in our experience, occasionally checking in with us to introduce us to his big name colleagues such as Michel Ocelot, Christine Panushka, Raimund Krumme. This year, as a animation director with 6 short films under my belt, I decided I should return to the fair city of Ottawa, in search of new ideas and a community of animators. The festival was a mixture of nostalgic remembrance and novel inspiration. From this perspective, I humbly offer you a brief report on the notable films, prize-winners and a few overlooked favorites seasoned with a healthy dose of festival gossip.

Ottawa is know to be a festival on its own program. Artistic Director Chris Robinson (a.k.a. The Animation Pimp) takes a wicked pride in the fact that films that win the top prizes at Annecy often don’t even make it into Ottawa. The festival definitely has a leaning towards the dark, the messy, the cryptic and the crude, but that’s not to say some of the big names don’t make it in. Pixar’s La Luna was slated in with the International Competition, as well as Disney’s The Ballad of Nessie. The sweet family friendly stories seemed to end there, however. Steven Irwin’s Moxie was named the Grand Prize winner in the shorts category.  The stark, unsentimental stopmotion film Blanche Fraise by Frédérick Tremblay took the prize for Best Narrative Short and Wendy Tilbey and Amanda Forbiss’ Wild Life swept up the Best Canadian Short.

Phil Mulloy’s Dead But Not Buried took the feature film prize, and the grumbling from certain corners of the audience was hard to ignore. While the jury cited “its innovative way of filmmaking, bold use of minimalistic graphics, original use of sound and subversive humor” Despite the engaging script and unusual characters, I personally could not manage to sit through the 80 minutes of computer generated voices and badly draw talking heads. I would rather read this film as a book. In an interview about the film, Mulloy says his work is “a balancing act between caring and not caring, between being brilliant and being rubbish.” Clearly the Ottawa jury has made their decision but considering the buzz in the theater after the announcement, the public jury is still out on this one.

I had to note that in just about every winning film, the main character dies or commits suicide. I asked jury member Jan Pinkava about this and he said the jury felt like so many of the films being made these days are addressing these issues and the jury felt bound to honor that in their selection. Incidentally, before announcing the awards, Jan said he would be taking a collection for the Canadian Suicide Prevention Hotline after the awards ceremony. Sure enough he was there in the lobby with a hat full of change and bills.

You can find a complete list of winners on

And now for a few of my favorites. My overall impression of the Ottawa line-up, and perhaps this reflects where the animation industry is headed, was that many films are using narrative as a vessel for showcasing wild and crazy techniques. This is not to say that story is lost, but it seems to no longer trump method. Two films that I thought retained deep and subtle story lines while maintaining a strong visual style were Dimanche, by Patrick Doyon and The Renter, by Jason Carpenter. In both these films, the main character is a small boy navigating an adult world. Doyon’s character finds the obvious in the unseen while Carpenter’s boyhood alter ego encapsulated the hyper-real memories of an unusual daycare provider. The Tilby/Forbiss team has come up with another amazingly lighthearted approach to a heavy subject in Wild Life. Eamonn O’Neill’s I’m Fine Thanks deserves a mention (and an award for best graduation film) for its forceful design and a concise emotional arc. In true Paul Driessen style, Oeidipus turned time inside out with a squiggly line. Timber by Adam Fisher was a 1-minute crowd pleaser. Swimming Pool by Alexandra Hetmerova was a delightful film, and refreshing after the heavy subject matter of the majority. Marv Newland’s CMYK is a refreshing abstract film that has enough old school style to make it feel familiar, but sharp enough in its design and animation to not be derivative.

There were several fabulous stopmotion films, but the one that sticks in my mind is  Keha mälu (Body Memory) by Ülo Pikkov from Estonia. A group of yarn-women is rapidly disintegrated by unseen forces from outside their enclosed world. This film presents a visual metaphor that can uphold many interpretations but the emotional force in the frantic unravelling of these confined creatures permeates them all

Being a shorts fan, I missed most of the feature films but did happen to catch the strange and delightful Mati Kutt’s Taevalaul (Sky Song) and as much as I could handle of Mulloy’s Dead but not Buried. I doubt there will be much opportunity to see these works at your local theater chain so I’m glad festivals are still the place to go for hard-to-find works of art.

OIAF is a very student friendly festival and there were several large groups of students from Canadian and American art schools moving from one event to the next as though their posse could provide some protection from their imminent future careers. Many took advantage of the career and recruiting seminars by attending the portfolio reviews by major studios and panels on how to make a success of yourself. Others, along with a handful of the more seasoned animators flocked to master classes by Gil Alkabetz, Koji Yamamura, and Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbiss. There well some well- attended industry panels also. John Canemaker presented his new book, “Two Guys Named Joe”. Pen Ward and Thurop Van Orman, creators of the Cartoon Network hit show “Adventure Time” shared their journey (and signed a few highly sought after T-shirts).

And, of course, the Animator’s Picnic was the social highlight of the festival, this time with plenty of food and sunshine to satisfy even the most demanding guests. Parties are all well and good, but the casual atmosphere, open bar and fine autumn weather makes this event the best place to see and be seen. The annual pumpkin carving contest was a smashing success with some very notable designs including a pumpkin happy meal and speedo pumpkin. See Dan Sarto’s photo’s from the event (trust me, you’ll be impressed) on

In short, Ottawa is exactly as I remember it: so many great events and screenings that omnipresence would be a very handy skill to have. As one of the oldest and largest animation festivals on our side of the globe, it is well worth attending for the inspiration and networking opportunities alone. If you can manage to convince the Animation Pimp to show your film as well, then more power to you!


September 21, 2011

Don’t forget, life drawing at the ol’ Bolt this weekend!


August 2011 First Friday: ASIFA Delivers Caricatures!

September 2, 2011

This First Friday’s event….CARICATURES! Andy Mason, Joelle Haight, Savannah Ervin, Wynn Green and Kristina BadHand all came down to the Bolt Factory to lend their artistic skills to this unique event. Thanks Everyone!


The Summer Cel BBQ!

September 2, 2011

Adrian Bishop from Bloom Animation, Ed Desroches (from left)
Joey Buhrer, Andy Mason and Joelle Haight all enjoying our Summer Cel-ebration! Thanks for everyone who came out to Judy’s place and enjoyed the festivities. Hope to see you there next year!


Fall events right around the corner!

August 30, 2011

Be sure to check the events page often, as we’ve got a lot of events coming up for the Colorado animation community this late summer and fall, including several workshops!


Summer Cel this weekend!

August 22, 2011

That’s right, it’s time again for everyone’s favorite summer animation event! As always, the Summer Cel-ebration is free for members, and a $5 donation for non-members. Come out and enjoy food and beverages outside during a great late summer Colorado afternoon! Bring a reel or animation to screen! Please RSVP here. See you there!


Brick Flick Lego Workshop was a success!

August 15, 2011

The Brick Flick Lego Workshop was a great success! So many Lego animation fans showed up that we unfortunately had to turn some folks away. We hope that all of the budding animators that showed up will stay tuned as we have more upcoming animation workshops for kids and adults, including the G.I Joe Stop Motion Workshop and our annual workshops for the Starz Denver Film Festival. Thanks to Ones and Zeros Pixelshow, and to everyone that participated, volunteered and came out for this event. We are humbled by the turnout and will do our best to accommodate more students in the future.

Here are some pictures from the Brick Flick Lego Workshop 2011:

You can see the whole album on our Facebook page!