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Q&A: Animator/director Chris Landreth

>> Chris Landreth
Academy-Award winning 3D animator/director
On: Ryan
This year Chris Landreth won the Academy Award for his animated short about Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, a one-time Oscar nominee for his 1965 film, Walking, and now a panhandler on the streets of Montreal. Landreth creates an animated documentary using natural dialog as voiceover. The result is a psycho-realist tour of Larkin’s life through interviews with Ryan and people who knew him.
F&V: How did you come up with the idea for Ryan?
I met Ryan Larkin in the summer of 2000. I hung out with him for one week and thought, "What a life story this guy has." It has all the elements of drama. It’s got tragedy, comedy, absurdity, [and] this redemptive element. It was an easy story, but there were some other things that crept in. And there are some other themes as a result of it that are about Ryan, but also about alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, fear of failure. These relate to Ryan, but the interviewer gets sucked into it.
F&V: How large was the crew?
I had a CG supervisor, four animators, one texture guy, one render person, two set modelers, [and] two or three character modelers. I’m starting to get vague because people were volunteering sometimes a week of time, sometimes an hour of time. The credit roll is 100 names or so. Most of those are people who spent an hour working here or a couple hours there. The main crew was about nine people.
F&V: What did you use to animate?
Maya. The reason we used Maya was paint effects. It is a huge integral part of the film. The hair is done in paint effects. There are two characters that are sketchy-looking; all paint effects. You see this painterly, smeary look that gradually envelops the environment. That’s also paint effects. We had a render farm donated by Intel.
F&V: Has Ryan seen the film?
Yes. Ryan is really happy about it. At the Ottawa Animation Festival, where Ryan won grand prize, he got up on stage with me and took a bow.

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Categories: Creativity, Project/Case study, Shooting, VFX/Animation