Moving from Breda, the second day of the Festival is set in the fascinating Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. Surrounded by the elegant atmosphere of this theater, a new fresh wave of inspiring talks is about to begin, starting with:
One of the most important animation studios in Latin America, 2Veinte, shows us their unique style: a mix of synthetic motion graphic design from Germany, and the irreverent style of the US. They get their energy from abandoning forms, create offensive concepts and crazy color schemes, which undoubtedly influenced many animators in Latin America and in the rest of the world. 2Veinte is specialized in morphing, and has brought this technique to an extraordinary level. It’s also worth to mention the character design that 2Veinte has developed, from robots that try to destroy a city, to amorphous creatures leaking on the floor.
Another really interesting collective that is part of Playgrounds is Marshmallow Laser Feast from London. The group’s approach is based on a continuous investigation of the relationship between shape, sound, motion, and the connection with the human perspective. For MLF storytelling is about interaction. By allowing the user to take part in the installation itself, he/she feels more connected to the story.
At Playgrounds, Barney Steel and Robin McNicholas presented their new work, ‘In the Eyes of the Animals’, a virtual reality installation that enables the viewer to experience the animal perspective when exploring the forest. The installation, as they explained, was originally set in a forest in which the trees were mapped, and then recreated in a 360° virtual world using a system of particles constantly changing in size according to the viewers perspective. The most fascinating thing about this project was that, since the trees mapped in the VR experience were actually the ones that were in the surroundings of the original installation, the viewer eventually recognizes the space and associates it with the experience. What we as humans find interesting, Robin says, is the change of perspective. So in experiencing the animals’ point of view, our perception of our own world totally changes. MLF really test the possibility of virtual reality experiences, reinterpreting the world in an effective, non-realistic way.
They explain that in order to do what they like, they have to do what they jokingly call “prostitution”: working for the commercial field. But their artistic approach is always visible, even in spots like the one for McLaren. Here the shape of the car is visualized through light beams that simulate the wind flow. These commercial projects are fundamental in order to survive in a creative environment — eventually you always need to pay the bills. And in their case, the main bills are the ones concerning the acquisition of new technology, in order to build a prototype of a project that will later be presented to a possible client.
Mark Ardington – Animation Director, Animator & Character Rigger and VFX supervisor – focuses on the work for the feature ‘Ex Machina’ (2015). In the talk the process of character design and 3D animation is explained in great detail. In the film ‘Ex Machina’ the main character is a combination of a woman and robot. The woman is portrayed by the actress Alicia Vikander, while the CG animation was mapped onto her later in the post-production phase. Witnessing the highly detailed and perfect work of the studio was really impressing, and it also provided a precious insight into the level of complexity behind it.
The talks finish at 18.00, but the day is not over yet. The program also involves an exclusive meeting in one of the most famous creative studios in Amsterdam: Post Panic. At the Panic Room all the participating artists — and whoever previously registered at the event — meet to share their thoughts while having a drink on the house. Some of the artists show a few slides about what they do, and what they like. Among them there’s Aaron Duffy, 2Veinte, and also GMUNK, whose talk is scheduled for the day after.
Attending Panic Room gives the guests the opportunity to talk with each other in an informal way. You realize that the artists you previously saw on the stage are actually very approachable human beings you can have a drink with, or chat, and experience the sacred art of networking.
In the past I attended several kinds of festivals: design, music, animation. The festivals’ atmosphere is always relaxed, and that makes people more approachable than usual. At Playgrounds somehow this feeling of relaxation is even more amplified, making you wish it would never end…