Sunday, 20 May 2012

Great Schools of Animation: Filmakademie Baden-Wuertemmberg (Germany)

The Filmakademie Baden-Wuertemmberg is situated in Ludwigsburg, 12 kilometres from Stuttgart. Compared with some other schools, the Filmakademie is a newcomer but commonly recognised as being one of the top ranking institutions in the world. It formed its Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction in 2002. For European students tuition fees have been waived for the university courses as of this year, although there are modest costs for administration and student social services. Overseas students will need to satisfy the authorities that they can finance their studies abroad. Entry qualifications are tough and include proficiency in German, 12 months' work experience and a portfolio, interview and entrance exam. Precise details are here. The 41/2 year course takes students through the full range of software programs, classes being in small groups with the opportunity to work together in large groups from other departments for the project films that are such a feature of the school. Two forms of film-making are identified, Character Animation and Visual Effects. (See here.) Facilities are outstanding. There are approximately 50 on the course with, at any one time, between 1-5 foreign students. Staffing is very generous, with 60 guest teachers and lecturers in a year from all over the world, a feature of this top rank school. Collaborations of the Filmakademie with public and private broadcasters is a feature of years 3 and 4, accounting for some of the very high profile films they make. There is a variety of accommodation provided although demand is higher than supply for halls of residence. Das Rad was nominated for an Oscar in 2003. Graduates, naturally enough, are sought after and employed all over the world.

The selection of films below shows the variety of approaches and styles. It should be noted they represent films produced at different stages in the course, from a test piece made by way of application, to a graduation movie.

Jacob Frey and Harry Fast made Bob, after their introduction to Maya in 2009 during their second year. You'll have seen those pitiful rodents mindlessly treading their wheels, getting nowhere. Here's a hamster on a mission, and a globe trotting one at that. An amazing competence with the software, glorious punchline.

A6/A9 was achieved in only three weeks by Johannes Schiehsl in 2007. The key sound design from David Christiansen exudes power as a motorway snakes its way through the land. As the pieces here show, the Filmakademie produces diverse responses from its students. However, I would have staked my reputation (ha) on the source.

Fallen makes sky diving look easy as a cute meteor falls to earth and adapts.Wolfram Kampffmeyer and Sascha Geddert made this in 2007 but, a feature of all the films from the university, the music and sound design from David Christiansen is astonishing.
By way of contrast, going back to 2005, Ruth Weber uses cel animation in a deceptively simple but beguiling fashion. On the Way is described by the director quite differently to my reading of it. I thought something on the lines of Icarus reborn. Whatever, the increasingly lithe movement of the figure and pulsating music of Vladimir Martinka culminate in an abrupt halt to proceedings.

Wolfram Kampffmeyer's Refrain from 2005 is offered as an example  of an animation completed in only three days as an entrance examination exercise for the university! Wolfram made Fallen above, assisted on Red Rabbit. Easy life teaching a student this talented. The piece is visually complex and technically resourceful.


Kimberley said...

these videos are terrific! I would have to say my favourite is Fallen or Bob. They are all really good though! Refrain was very clever and A6/A9 was really well done! Great videos thanks for sharing. :)

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