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For the Masses

James Cunningham

Infection (2000)

What inspired "Infection"?

So many things, where do I start. The list of films and filmmakers is long but a few that come to mind immediately: Jet Li in Fist of Legend and Fong Sai Yuk, John Woo's The Killer, all David Lynch's films, Haiyo Miyazaki's My Neighbour Totoro, the Wachowski's The Matrix... Other ideas in my head at the time were Red Dwarf books and all Douglas Adams' work plus a bunch of art theory on human computer interaction I was reading at university.

How long did it take to make it, and what was involved?

About 4 months to write and design and then 10 months to build the models, animate, light and render them.

Have you made any other films (animation or otherwise)?

Yes. DELF and Blinder. Both cgi animated shorts. One of your short films featured at the start of the nationwide release of "Gozilla".

How did that happen?

That was Blinder and it wasn't the nation-wide release, just The Embassy in Wellington. But is was nationally released with In the Company of Men. And DELF was nationally released with Buffalo 66 I think. My producer Paul Swadel arranged all that. He went directly to the cinema owners and got their support. That then in turn meant I got NZFC post funding to blow them up to 35mm.

Have you animated in any other styles, such 2d, claymation, pixelation...?

No, not really. Never even used a movie camera.

Why do you (currently) animate on a computer, and not other ways?

Animation per say is not what I am interested in. It is just a tool, one that gives me a lot of control and allows me to do what ever I want. It takes time but I can get what ever shots/angles I want, edit as I go and build up the film that way. I think more in terms of a series of visual shots that will tell a story rather than specific character poses and motion.

Do you think motion capture is a threat to traditional forms of computer based animation (eg keyframing)?

Yes and give me a chance and I'll be one of its main proponents. It is awesome. I say use what ever you can to achieve the result you want and if you want realistic human movement MoCap has it all over keyframe. You just cannot get those subtleties into keyframe, well you can but it takes for ever. The only problem with MoCap at the moment is expense, the cleanup of data and its manipulation once it is captured.

In your opinion, is the internet a good way to view and distribute animation?

It depends on what standard your product is at and how it will be delivered. In my case, with something finished to film, no, not yet. When the quality rivals TV then yes. But if you have a net specific animation like a 2d flash thing then the net is fantastic.

Do you think NZ could support it's own version of Atom Films or Animation Express?

No. Why would we need to. The net is international so it doesn't matter where it comes from. The issues are content and cash flow. How do get the films and then how do you get money out of this? No one is getting rich delivering animations and short films over the net. No one wants to pay for it either. Everyone wants stuff over the net to be free and no one is earning much let alone the people making the content.


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