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Vimeo Festival Preview: An Interview With Carlos Lascano, Animation Judge

We discover the secrets of award-winning animation with director Carlos Lascano.
October 1, 2010, 3:34pm

One of the categories we’re most looking forward to in Vimeo’s upcoming Festival & Awards (taking place in NYC October 8 & 9) is the “Animation” category. In part, it’s because our homeboy, Patrick Jean, whose short film Pixels screened at all five of our Creators Events, is a finalist. But more important, this is a category where the marriage of art and technology feels most inspired and fresh. These days, animators are able to seamlessly incorporate a variety of different techniques from traditional 2D animation, to stop-motion, to the seemingly omnipresent 3D, to animated live-action footage, in order to realize whatever their imaginations can fathom. The possibilities seem limitless, and the bold, risk-taking directors in this category are some of the innovators blazing the trail for everyone else with fearless experimentation that turns the medium on its head

We spoke with award-winning director, animator and illustrator Carlos Lascano about his experiences judging the “Animation” category and what he envisions for the medium’s evolution.

The Creators Project: As both a judge and a distinguished animator in your own right, what were you looking for in the submissions you reviewed?
**Carlos Lascano:**Animation is such a technical procedure that sometimes both the story and the director's personal aesthetics get lost in the process. So personally, I was looking for a balance between the technique, the story and the emotion transmitted. From the aesthetic point of view, I enjoyed finding some works with a very strong and personal style. I like to see things I have not seen before, and I respect filmmakers that try to stay true to the style that characterizes them. I like those who find a way to stamp their mark on everything they do.

Who are some of the most interesting and innovative animators out there right now? What sets them apart from the others?
I can't think of any names now, and if I do, I would be forgetting other great ones. I discover great animators each day, sometimes from the most unimaginable sources. I like artists that are innovative. Animators have the task to create everything from scratch. A live action director has an actor and a setting, while an animator has to create them on his own, taking reality as a model. Animation is a very complex art that involves a high level of technical knowledge, however, I consider animators to be artists and not only mere technicians.

I think artists have to feed from their reality, their fantasy and their dreams to create their works, instead of emulating things that have been done before. Of course we all have references, and get influence and motivation from the work of fellow artists, but if instead of copying them, we use them to nurture our own personal style, it will allow our art to grow on its own merit. I love finding people whose works are mind-blowing and help animation evolve not only as a technique but also as an art. For them, my highest respect.

How has technology affected the medium of animation in recent years? How has it affected your own practice?
Technology has opened new doors that were unimaginable until not long ago. It has sped up the process and made the blending of techniques much easier and fluent. That is precisely how I use the technology: not replacing the traditional methods, but using them in conjunction. My work is done mainly on handmade elements and organic textures, and I use technology to combine them and add some digital elements to create a distinctive overall look. So I guess it has "affected" all of us directors and animators positively.

How do you see the medium of animation continuing to evolve in the next 5-10 years?
In five or ten years we'll surely have better tools that will allow our imagination to fly higher. In my opinion, animation will evolve in three different paths:

On one side we have the animation that is used as special effects in movies. It is used more and more each day, and it tries to copy reality by achieving an absolute hyper-realism. I'm sure there will come a day when it will be impossible to distinguish one from the other.

On the other, we have the animation feature films, most of them following the same aesthetic trend and the same animation technique (mainly, the omnipresent 3D).
Given the fact that the new technologies allow a shorter production time and hence the making of more animated films, the narrative of these has evolved to reach a level similar to the one used in live action films. The use of some live action resources (such as hand-held camera, just to give an example) has enriched the narrative previously used in animation.

And last but not least, is in the short, experimental pieces where I think we will see the major advancements. Music videos, commercial spots, short films—they all give room to experimentation and risk taking, and that is what will make animation evolve as an art and not only as a technique. It is in these short pieces that new aesthetics are born, and from there they grow until they become a trend. Having that in mind, the future looks fascinating!

That is why I consider Vimeo to be a source of creativity, a space in where new aesthetic approaches and experiences can spread.

What is one technological invention you wish could exist right now? Why?
Human teleportation! That way I would avoid spending so many airport hours. If I would have made one dollar out of each hour I've spent in an airport this year, I would have been able to buy my private jet by now.

Check out the rest of the Vimeo finalists and the festival program.