FESTIVALS - TAAFI 2012: Overview Write Up

Barnabas Wornoff and Ben McEvoy give a celebratory jumping salute to TAAFI 2012
(Photo Credit: Grayden Laing / Canadian Animation

Wow.  So TAAFI 2012 was amazing.  I'm more of an artist when it comes to pictures, drawing, and video than with the written word, but I'll do my best to give an overview of what I saw at TAAFI.  First off, amazing show, the positive nature of the TAAFI Board of Directors is inspiring.  These are people who are truly passionate about animation.  Full stop.  No half measures here.  This was the first year of the festival, but everything was in place to establish it at the top tier of animation festivals.  

As someone who shoots video for a living one of the big positives in terms of covering TAAFI was the open nature with which the board of directors approached filming and photography at the festival.  I touched base with them prior to the festival and agreed to share what footage and photos I got with TAAFI to help promote the festival.  I started the Canadian Animation site to help fill a niche of promoting Canadian Animation and the people behind it to everyone, not only animators. Being able to show the exciting events going on in Canada and show that people are coming to the festival who are not just animators - and show them having a blast - is a big part of that.  I mean, really, who wouldn't be interested in a storyboarding workshop with John K.?!  Or a facial expression master class with Chris Landreth, the genius behind the Oscar award winning short Ryan?!  

From a promotional view, event specific treats were also provided, like the barbarians and amazons for the North American premiere of Ronal the Barbarian, the complimentary Caricatures provided by John K., and the Rock & Rule Q&A with the crew that made the film.  There was also a script read with the cast from Almost Naked Animals that I missed, because I couldn't tear myself away from Pete Emslie's Caricature Drawing Workshop.

You can have great festivals with just films, but it's a world class festival that both provides and promotes the little touches that make going to an event like this a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

Now, I'm going to step outside of my role with the Canadian Animation site and talk about the festival as an independent animator.  At TAAFI, as an animator, you get to connect with your peers outside of a work related environment.  I can't speak for all animators, but I know I spent about five to six years learning my craft without connecting with another animator in person, aside from Nathan Carey, who I met because his wife was best friends with an apprentice that was working on my parents organic farm at the time.  Nathan, who went to Sheridan, gave me some mentorship and great book recommendations (The Animator's Survival Kit & The Illusion of Life).  Animators like myself are generally more suited to visual hijinks in our art, than extrovert style socializing, but when we get a chance to connect with other animators there is an amazing creative magic that can be born from meeting with like minded individuals.  That's the magic that TAAFI is running on and I'm pretty stoked about it.  

In terms of professional development as an animator TAAFI also really stood out as well.  The master classes related to the craft of animation were kept small and intimate as opposed to being held in a large auditorium.  Anyone who attended had the ability to talk to the instructors one-on-one.  That's an amazing opportunity and everyone there took advantage of it, from enthusiastic youngsters to veteran animators.  There were also panels discussing the future of the animation industry that were lead by top animation producers, like Tom McGillis from Fresh TV.  My personal interest is in how broadcast is going to compete with online distribution and that became an interesting topic of discussion when Josh Bowen, from Style5.tv, brought it up at the Future of Animation in Ontario panel.  I talked to Josh after the panel and he has some really cool things coming down the pipes that I'll post about when I get the go ahead to do so, hopefully sooner than later!

Anyway, I'll write more when I have time in a week or so, my focus right now is on a series of overview videos that condense what I experienced at the festival into bite size pieces that will hopefully give TAAFI 2012 attenders something to remember the festival by and to entice animators and fans to come out to TAAFI 2013.  I'll be posting those videos on this page so check back in a couple days to see them!

Best, Grayden.