A different kind of digital animation

I spent most of the previous week in Ottawa (the one in Ontario, Canada) for the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), North America's longest-running and largest such gathering -- five straight days of watching and talking about pretty much the best and most innovative animation the world.

Among the many workshops, panels and casual discussions, producers, distributors, animators and students talked about The Long Tail (www.longtail.com), the future of television animation, "niche-casting," YouTube, video podcasting, mobile entertainment, HDTV production, digital filmmaking and game design, as well as how the ready availability of short animation on the Internet might change the nature of festivals such as these.

For me, however, the best marriage between our digital world and animation is one four-minute short called Lightning Doodle Project, or pikapika. Tochka, a partnership between animators Takeshi Nagata and Kazue Monno, took a series of long-exposure photos of people waving cell phones, LEDs and other gadgetry in the dark, put them together, and created a stunning piece of animation, which you can see here (http://tochka.jp/pikapika/2006/08/the_past_of_pikapika.html). Most of Tochka's collaborators weren't other filmmakers, but people who showed up after they put a call out on Mixi, Japan's equivalent to MySpace. Consider it a different kind of flash mob.

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