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Old 05-20-2014, 08:18 AM   #1
Buscat
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Meet the Artists :: Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter




Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata are award-winning filmmakers and animation commercial directors. Operating under the moniker “Tiny Inventions,” they are known for their unique mixed-media animation, which combines hand-crafted art and digital techniques. Since they started collaborating in 2007, Max and Ru have directed and produced TV commercials, music videos, PSAs, a toy line and several independent films. Their films have screened in over 300 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance Film Festival and Annecy Animation Festival, and have received 25 international awards.
In 2011, Max and Ru spent a year and a half as artists-in-residence at the Netherlands Institute for Animated Film where they developed a 14-minute animated film, “Between Times.”

Currently Max and Ru are working as faculties in the Animation department at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and developing their 3rd independent film, “Bullet Proof Glasses.”(working-title)




We're excited to have Max and Ru as our guests on Meet-The-Artist this month. As usual, we've asked them a bunch of questions to kick start the process, but we'd love you to watch their short film (above) and log in and ask questions if you like. There will also be a live web Q & A - on Tuesday June 3rd at 7pm PDT (Los Angeles time). We hope you can make it - please register first here if you'd like to attend.





1. What inspired you to become artists, and what ultimately led you the blend of actual models and CG that characterizes your work today?

Max: I can’t recall what specifically inspired me to become an artist, but several small moments stick out in my mind:
--- I remember making a drawing of a monster when I was three or four years old. There was something about it that scared me so much that I started crying and I made my mom rip it up.
---- A close friend of my family was an accomplished photographer. I can vividly recall being in his darkroom and witnessing the magic of watching a photograph emerge, seemingly from nothing, in a tub of developer.
I still feel the same way that I did on those two occasions, when I see our animated characters come to life in a scene.

Ru: Growing up in Japan, I used to watch a crafting show, “Dekirukana?” (NHK, Japan). I used the step-by-step constructions from the show as a starting point and invented my own creations from there. At the time, my brother was into manga and we entertained each other by making our own comic narratives. It seems like my life hasn’t changed much.

We were both interested in texture, lighting, photography and miniatures. Blending handmade and digital art was never a conscious decision; it was a organic evolution of our interests, skill-sets and tastes. With each project, we’ve tried to take the process one step further and create new ways of working.




2. What do you think was the biggest "break" you've had in your career? How did it happen?

“Electric Car” was our 2nd music video for They Might Be Giants. From the beginning, we connected with the song and knew that it was going to be a very special piece for us. During the production, we had the space to experiment with new mixed-media ideas and fine-tune some of the techniques that we continue to use.
When the video was released, we began to get more and more work that aligned with what we wanted to make as artists. That was our goal when we started collaborating: having people come to us for the work that we do.




3. What's the project you're most proud of? Why?

Definitely our latest independent film, “Between Times.” It was the most challenging in terms of storytelling, technique and commitment. We were fortunate to have some time to learn a CG package and develop a multi-character story while we were artist-in-residents at Netherlands Institute for Animation Film, but we still juggled the bulk of the production with other jobs.

The film took us 2.5 years to finish and its exciting to see the film take on a life of it’s own and go places that we couldn’t have imagined.








4. What advice do you have for artists who'd like to follow in your footsteps? Have you made any mistakes in your career you think they should avoid?

Honestly, we still feel like our career has just began. There is so much more to learn in art / filmmaking and many paths that we want to try.
It’s always difficult to give advice to other artists as each of us have wildly different life circumstances, but we have regretted the times where we waited for things to happen, rather than actively creating opportunities for ourselves. It’s not easy to find the time and energy to make that short film, learn that software package, take those figure drawing classes, but those are precisely the type of commitments that have helped us grow artistically and professionally.




5. What are you working on right now?

Aside from commissioned work, we are developing two new personal projects. The first is 4-minute animated short about going through puberty in the early 1990s. Ru has been busy storyboarding and Max is experimenting with a new visual look. The second project is something that we’re hoping to develop into a feature script. We’ll see how these projects develop over the next few months and will continue to update our blog with process photos and observations : http://www.tinyinventions.com/blog/

Please make Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter welcome here by asking them some questions in this thread.
 
Old 05-22-2014, 06:32 AM   #2
Buscat
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Live webinar with Ru and Max - 3rd June at 7pm PDT

Hi all -

The live webinar with Ru & max will be on Tuesday 3rd June at 7pm PDT (Los Angeles time).

We'd love to see you there - please register here: https://attendee.gototraining.com/r/8680456643367164673
 
Old 05-23-2014, 02:11 AM   #3
yolao
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Hi Ru and Max, welcome and thanks for taking time to come by.

I`m a big fan of your work. The story telling, the style, the animation, etc.

-What kind of materials you used to made the beautiful live action sets?.. for example the roof tiles of the houses, the bakery bread or the sidewalk.

-How time consuming was to make the live actions sets?..

-I read that you are going to submit your new short "Between Times" to festivals. Which are the requirements, in general, that festivals ask you?.., i mean is it just the DVD with the film or you have to also send something else (like behind the scene material, storyboards, etc).

Thanks
Cheers
 
Old 05-23-2014, 12:07 PM   #4
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Max Porter
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Hi Yolao! Thanks so much!

Re: Materials
The buildings / sidewalks are made out of balsa woods. They are rubbed with coffee grain to stain and create the vintage feel. Some parts are fabric (ex. some tiles of the roof) to add the charm of the textile
Most of the props (ex. baked goods) are made out of various clays, like tree-oil based clay, flour-based clay, stone-based clay, etc. The flour-based clay, in particular, is wonderful because they can be baked in an oven and rise like real bread.

Re: Time
Long.....but not so bad. The interior of the bakery took exactly 1 month and the full village exterior took 2+months. Towards the end of the production, we had the workflow down and a less detailed set only took about 3 days.

Re: Festivals
Yes, it's just the DVD (or quicktime) of your film without any additional materials. Once you get in then they ask for stills, synopsis, director's photo, and a better screening format ( DCP, BluRay, high quality Quicktimes)
So for now, I'm filling out the entry forms and shipping DVDs physically or digitally.
Here's a great article about submitting to animation festivals:
http://www.glasanimation.com/2014/0...tion-festivals/
 
Old 05-24-2014, 05:28 PM   #5
yolao
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Thanks for the answer and the link.

Please allow me a few more questions...

-If an object is close to a CG character, like a table or a chair, whether the character interacts with it or not, do you guys made that object CG?.., or are those "close to character objects" also live action..., if so, how do you cut them out?... do you replicate them exactly in the computer to mask them out?...

To build those fantastic live action sets, the time taken was not to long.

-Speaking of the live action sets, apart from seek the result and look that you want, do you feel is faster, generally speaking, to build the sets in real life rather than in the computer, going from building all the objects to paint them and lighting.

Thanks again.
 
Old 05-24-2014, 07:50 PM   #6
tinyinventions
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Hi Yolao!
Objects like door, table and chairs were animated stop-motion and masked out frame by frame. But objects that are small and interacted with CG characters, like teacup, teapot, pencil are CG objects. Similar to CG characters, all the props were created as miniatures from clay and used them as reference for modeling and applied photographs as textures.

For me (Ru), building sets by hands is much faster than creating in computer. Partially I am relatively fast prop-maker and also to create something that is supposed to be organic, it's harder to create "mistakes" in CG because everything can be so perfect.
I can imagine certain sets /materials / visual style can be much faster in CG.

In terms of which is faster, I think it really depends on the visual style. But I must say, when you put physical lights, there's always fun surprises in how shadows create various shapes and atmosphere. It is definitely double the work for certain things but there's something incredibly magical when you turn on the lights and the sets become alive. I have never had that moment with CG sets.
 
Old 05-25-2014, 12:55 AM   #7
yolao
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Thank you for the great insight into your great work. I wish you two the best in the festivals and in your future projects.

Best Regards
 
Old 05-25-2014, 05:13 PM   #8
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Thanks so much Yolao!!! Enjoyed the conversation! Yes...we hope we'll have a fun festival run. We'll see
 
Old 06-04-2014, 04:29 AM   #9
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If you missed the live-stream session, here's the recording




There's an echo on the presenter's voice, but other than that, it was a great interview - thanks Max & Ru!
 
Old 09-18-2014, 09:11 AM   #10
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Thanks so much Yolao!!! Enjoyed the conversation.
 
Old 03-08-2015, 10:01 PM   #11
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The mixed media approach!

I'm impressed and fascinated by the models physically put together, and I hope many can carry on this tradition of film and animation. Digital models have their place but the beauty and creativity of actually getting hands on model work will never be replaced. What beautiful styles you work in as well. Thanks for sharing your work!
 
Old 03-18-2015, 10:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buscat



Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata are award-winning filmmakers and animation commercial directors. Operating under the moniker “Tiny Inventions,” they are known for their unique mixed-media animation, which combines hand-crafted art and digital techniques. Since they started collaborating in 2007, Max and Ru have directed and produced TV commercials, music videos, PSAs, a toy line and several independent films. Their films have screened in over 300 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance Film Festival and Annecy Animation Festival, and have received 25 international awards.
In 2011, Max and Ru spent a year and a half as artists-in-residence at the Netherlands Institute for Animated Film where they developed a 14-minute animated film, “Between Times.”

Currently Max and Ru are working as faculties in the Animation department at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and developing their 3rd independent film, “Bullet Proof Glasses.”(working-title)




We're excited to have Max and Ru as our guests on Meet-The-Artist this month. As usual, we've asked them a bunch of questions to kick start the process, but we'd love you to watch their short film (above) and log in and ask questions if you like. There will also be a live web Q & A - on Tuesday June 3rd at 7pm PDT (Los Angeles time). We hope you can make it - please register first here if you'd like to attend.





1. What inspired you to become artists, and what ultimately led you the blend of actual models and CG that characterizes your work today?

Max: I can’t recall what specifically inspired me to become an artist, but several small moments stick out in my mind:
--- I remember making a drawing of a monster when I was three or four years old. There was something about it that scared me so much that I started crying and I made my mom rip it up.
---- A close friend of my family was an accomplished photographer. I can vividly recall being in his darkroom and witnessing the magic of watching a photograph emerge, seemingly from nothing, in a tub of developer.
I still feel the same way that I did on those two occasions, when I see our animated characters come to life in a scene.

Ru: Growing up in Japan, I used to watch a crafting show, “Dekirukana?” (NHK, Japan). I used the step-by-step constructions from the show as a starting point and invented my own creations from there. At the time, my brother was into manga and we entertained each other by making our own comic narratives. It seems like my life hasn’t changed much.

We were both interested in texture, lighting, photography and miniatures. Blending handmade and digital art was never a conscious decision; it was a organic evolution of our interests, skill-sets and tastes. With each project, we’ve tried to take the process one step further and create new ways of working.




2. What do you think was the biggest "break" you've had in your career? How did it happen?

“Electric Car” was our 2nd music video for They Might Be Giants. From the beginning, we connected with the song and knew that it was going to be a very special piece for us. During the production, we had the space to experiment with new mixed-media ideas and fine-tune some of the techniques that we continue to use.
When the video was released, we began to get more and more work that aligned with what we wanted to make as artists. That was our goal when we started collaborating: having people come to us for the work that we do.




3. What's the project you're most proud of? Why?

Definitely our latest independent film, “Between Times.” It was the most challenging in terms of storytelling, technique and commitment. We were fortunate to have some time to learn a CG package and develop a multi-character story while we were artist-in-residents at Netherlands Institute for Animation Film, but we still juggled the bulk of the production with other jobs.

The film took us 2.5 years to finish and its exciting to see the film take on a life of it’s own and go places that we couldn’t have imagined.








4. What advice do you have for artists who'd like to follow in your footsteps? Have you made any mistakes in your career you think they should avoid?

Honestly, we still feel like our career has just began. There is so much more to learn in art / filmmaking and many paths that we want to try.
It’s always difficult to give advice to other artists as each of us have wildly different life circumstances, but we have regretted the times where we waited for things to happen, rather than actively creating opportunities for ourselves. It’s not easy to find the time and energy to make that short film, learn that software package, take those figure drawing classes, but those are precisely the type of commitments that have helped us grow artistically and professionally.




5. What are you working on right now?

Aside from commissioned work, we are developing two new personal projects. The first is 4-minute animated short about going through puberty in the early 1990s. Ru has been busy storyboarding and Max is experimenting with a new visual look. The second project is something that we’re hoping to develop into a feature script. We’ll see how these projects develop over the next few months and will continue to update our blog with process photos and observations : http://www.tinyinventions.com/blog/

Please make Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter welcome here by asking them some questions in this thread.



Wow, a lot of work! It's beautiful - congratulations!
 
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