Entertainment Design Conference

4 07 2014

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     Last July 3, 2014, ICON Manila held an Entertainment Design Conference at the SMX Convention Center in Manila. Top film industry designers in the US shared their passion and design philosophies in animation, live action, games, advertising and illustration. The conference is sponsored by ICON for Missions, a non-profit humanitarian based organization. Their mission is to use their success to help people in need.

     The conference was attended by art students, art professors and professionals in the various visual media. The picture below are the artists and animators who worked on some of the biggest animation film block busters as well as live films, television shows and computer games. Just search their names to look for their backgrounds and portfolios.


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From L to R: John Butiu, Armand Serrano, Vance Kovacs, Stephen Silver,
James Finch and Marcelo Vignali in the question and answer forum

     In a nutshell they talked about understanding the visual language, 3D visual development, design evolution from concept to the final product, character design, qualities, traits and practices to be a successful artist,  film concept design, the best art is created by combining craft and creativity, production design and background animation. They shared their experiences and showed some of their portfolios (cannot be shown here due to copyright).

     Entertainment design belongs to the pre-production phase in the animation production process. I picked up some pointers and ideas for concept and visual development and character design but their in-depth practice in the industry cannot be applied in our case or in the country. As the artists are commissioned by large companies such as Disney to create character models, concept design for backgrounds, props, costumes and others for movies or television shows that are too elaborate and detailed. And many of their excellent artworks will be rejected and not be used for whatever reason. They also have tons of designs for one character and sometimes the final character model will be chosen after five years. So we are talking about big budget to pay top artists to produce  superb artworks that may be only rejected or used after many years. All of them specialize in one field or another, as the industry needs specialized professionals to bring out the best output. Unlike in what we experienced, due to low-budget, the artist needs to work on other things other than what he specializes in. After seeing the speakers’ artworks, I’m sure we don’t have that level of artistry done in any of our industry, since we don’t have the industry nor the market for the kind of high caliber works, whether its just a background, a tree, a rock, a character, props etc. Their entertainment environment enables their artists to become the best they can be in their profession as there is always some work for them to create better works than before.

      I asked Alstaire if we have some process for visual development applied in the Jobert and the Crop Circle Warriors© series, and he can only laugh and said that there is none. But on the good side, there are two Filipino artist among the speakers and that speaks about the talent of the Filipinos in the arts if given the opportunity and the right environment. So the conference was ideal for students and young artists who were there and have the aspiration, talent and drive to be the best they can be in their chosen visual arts field if they go to the US.  The best opportunity for animation is still in the US and not some third world country. I overheard one of the participants resignedly told a fellow participant that most graduates of a certain local art school with an animation course usually end up in the  advertising field. There is nothing wrong with advertising as it is a dynamic field where young professionals can contribute and develop their talents and many even come to love this profession.  Many animation students have to adjust to the economic realities after they graduate as pure animation work will not be available to all the graduates. The graduates will just have to be more resourceful if they want to purse the animation field, maybe they can work on it as a sideline, till they have built enough skills and portfolio to do professional work as an independent artist or apply to big studios locally or abroad.

     Given the situation of our country, there is no way we can reach or compete at the level of excellence in terms of the original animation output by the media giants in the US. They have the budget to hire the best and the market to earn back the millions that they have invested. But this does not mean that we can’t produce good works and market it internationally, as the level of technology and the reach of the Internet can help our talented artists and resourceful small studios in the country to succeed.

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