by Caleb Goellner

Pro Animators Turn to Cintiqs for a Worthy Deadline

Here’s the assignment: animate a short film in two weeks. Not enough pressure? How about showing it at UN World Habitat Day. Still not enough pressure? How about this: the film has to reach and represent an audience that is dealing with crucial life events.

Team Generous is up to the challenge. In fact, they created the challenge. This month, in cooperation with Twenty One Inc., Team Generous is heading to a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Campbell River, British Columbia to complete a short animated film in just two weeks. The location -- and crunch time -- raises awareness for Habitat for Humanity Canada, which has built housing for more than 2,000 families in Canada since 1985. Once it's completed, the new short will be screened for the United Nations' World Habitat Day on October 6, 2014.

To learn more about this year's project, Wacom got in touch with Jericca Cleland, Team Generous Canada executive director and CEO/COO of host studio Twenty One Inc.

Wacom: What makes animation the right platform for promoting humanitarian causes? 

JC: What is special about narrative animation is that we can tell stories at a more metaphorical level, and create characters that people empathize with because they are not a specific human being they can look at and say, “that’s not me” or “that’s happening over there, not here”.

Animation takes us into an imaginative place of emotion and empathy; we can also be abstract and make connections between ideas cinematically that would be impossible in live action. There are no physical limitations on where animation can go or how it can be used to express a message.


Wacom: What story does Habitat for Humanity want to tell?

JC: What they really want is to create an understanding of who they are trying to support—the kinds of families that Habitat specifically wants to help. Many times, the perfect candidates don’t realize they are candidates. I found this really amazing -- and challenging -- in terms of a creative message for the film. Of course, someone working three jobs to make ends meet is not watching short films. But people who know them and know something of their circumstances often do -- it might be someone you work with, or your kid goes to school with, or who runs a local business, or someone who just fell on hard times with an illness in the family or a sudden job layoff. We want the film to resonate so that a viewer might see it and think, “I know someone in that situation -- I’ll tell them about Habitat.”  


Wacom: What role does technology play in Team Generous producing the shorts in such a short timeframe?

JC: We will be using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects as well as TV Paint on Macs to handle the design, background painting, storyboarding and animation. But one of our absolute key components of success is making the technology service the artist, so that it disappears and allows them to focus completely on the creative process.

The Wacom Cintiqs we will be using are vital to us, because through the seamless experience of drawing directly on the image, instead of working through a tablet or mouse to control visuals on a separate monitor, the artist can effectively work without worrying about the interface. The designers, painters, storyboard artists, and animators will all rely very heavily on this technology to bring their best to this film for Habitat.


Wacom: What plans do you have for the animated short's premiere? 

JC: Part of setting the timing for the Team Generous Canada 2014 event is that UN World Habitat Day is October 6. We thought it would be amazing to premiere our film for Habitat in celebration of this international event!  We are hosting a benefit premiere on Saturday, October 4th in Campbell River, BC. In addition to screening our finished short, we are developing a program around film and animation making a difference in the world, so that there will be other short works to screen for an interesting, entertaining and worthwhile evening.


To see more of the films from Team Generous, visit their website.