Tonight (LIAF day 4, Mon 29 Aug) at 20:15 we’ll be screening feature-length ‘George the Hedgehog’ plus a Q&A with director Wojtek Wawszczyk.
LIAF day 3 commenced with the second of our Masterclasses. Wojtek Wawszczyk filled his audience in on exactly how the feature ‘George the Hedgehog‘ came to be and gave them a chance to re-animate part of the film.
Wojtek comes from a high-end 3D animation background (think ‘I-Robot’ and Disney and you get the idea), and told how he finds the cut-out style more intuitive and immediate, highlighting this with a five second game of ‘guess the picture’ (a great sketch of a cow followed). Such hand-drawn styles, he explained, are “closer to the metaphor” and much less pain-staking to produce.
For Wojtek and his team, there were two primary goals with ‘George the Hedgehog’: to combine the various different styles and talents of the illustrators and animators that worked on the project (which they did by choosing a subject they were all fond of… enter the ‘George the Hedgehog’ graphic novels). Secondly to address as broad an audience as possible… once again, enter George.
‘George the Hedgehog’ was the first fully animated feature-length film for adults in Poland and Wojtek makes no secret of the fact that it’s an audience divider. Whichever way you see it, the film generates a reaction and generally a very big one.
Wojtek went on to discuss in detail all stages of the production: storyboards; animatics; practical ways to manage and access quickly the huge amounts of data they were producing (he devised a logging technique specifically to manage the task at hand); how they divided labour amongst a 10 strong team of animators and illustrators; and even how they maintained morale on such a tight schedule. The audience were treated to a great slide show of photographs showing the team working and playing hard. One image in particular showed a curious-looking black object hanging on a wall. Wojtek explained – on day one the team hung a banana on the wall of their studio – a kind of decaying timepiece to remind them of their progress (Wojtek still has it to this day!)
The techniques used on the feature were not only explained to the partipants of the Masterclass, they were shown – stage by stage. Each member had a laptop loaded with the software ‘After Effects’ and all the files needed to re-animate an actual shot from the film. An absolute treat for the technically curious and just about as ‘hands-on’ practical as you can get.