FNE Interviews ANOMALIA Founder David Tousek


    FNE speaks with David Tousek, founder of the Czech animation workshop ANOMALIA which is accepting Applications for its summer workshop through 15 April 2014. Participants should have at least one year of animation experience.

    1. What is ANOMALIA?

    ANOMALIA is a training and networking platform for European CG animators and independent animation art development artists. It was been founded by 3BOHEMIANS and introduced ANOMALIA as its solution and response to the lack of professional and modern education and as a long term strategy to start a new tradition of CG animation in Central Europe.

    2. When did it start and what are the programmes it offers?

    ANOMALIA started in 2008 with a couple of short seminars. Two years later we opened a proper exercise-based summer 3D character animation training programme, with production, technical and art courses that altogether stretched over the entire summer.

    After four years we updated the core animation programme, BOOT CAMP, which offers highly dedicated and advanced 3D character animation training to help CG animators survive in the hard world of modern animation as well as specialised storytelling, art and technology development courses. Our topics for this year are Workflow and Personal Improvement, Clarity in Animation, High-End Polish and Details, Cartoon Animation Production (short film) and Creature Animation courses.

    We are also brainstorming on a new program fully dedicated to independent project development where artists could bring in their project ideas and work and study at the same time.

    3. Who is the team behind Anomalia and who are the experts participating this year?

    The core team is myself and my brother Marek Toušek, the founders of 3BOHEMIANS. I focus on the philosophy of ANOMALIA defining concepts of the programmes, communication and on-site organisation. Marek is the producer behind the scenes. There are also people from the European Training Center that organise the facility, accommodation and overall well-being of everybody.

    The visiting supervisors, suprisingly enough, are also part of the team. We collaborate directly with every visiting supervisor long time before the start on development of the content for each year. This year it is Mike Belzer from VALVE, Neil Helm from PIXAR, Jason Schleifer from DREAMWORKS, Keith Lango from VALVE and Kenny Roy from ARCONYX.

    All of our current guests have worked with us and among themselves very efficiently and developed a brand new advanced training program called ANOMALIA Boot Camp which offers the most dedicated high-end training in the region. Animation artists can advance much faster and increase their animation art skills and production value while having a great summer in a beautiful cultural setting with people of the same mindset.

    4. Where do the participants come from?

    All over the EU. But we mostly focus on and hope for people from our region, which is why we opened up ANOMALIA since there is no other dedicated platform of the same kind here. The cost of living expenses as well as the course fees are very appropriate for our region.

    5. How will they benefit from ANOMALIA?

    They will get a very intensive and dedicated training exposed to mentoring and personal knowledge of the top professional animation artists from the global industry. That itself is the most valuable experience because there is no other place that is able to staff such experts and bring them for such a long time of two weeks each.

    We also create a very relaxing laboratory environment so participants will not only hear lectures, but also get real hands on experience learning by doing, which is the very well-known concept of school of play. And since the lab is open virtually 24/7, and participants live in the same building, they can dedicate as much time to their own personal growth as they want. Everybody is on a slightly different level so the growth is entirely in the hands of each participant and his or her willingness to work hard in the time and space we provide.

    And having a top supervisor available for one-on-one consulting is priceless.

    Team work is as essential skill. Since the animation industry and this art itself is very demanding, and unlike fine art, animation is NOT only the art of a single individual; in fact, animation is by definition a highly collaborative field. ANOMALIA tries to give participants a solid team work and study experience. Team skills and attitude are a must.

    As is networking. Having like-minded people under the same roof helps develop personal and professional relationships which are the gold for their future careers. Lastly, having a chance to work on a short film with fellow animators will prepare the animators for the hard times of a real team production, but also this experience gives them a very solid opportunity to create a collaborative art together under the guidance of an experienced director that they would likely not have had a chance to work with.

    But we should not forget the visiting supervisors who come here in their free time and always love their visit, considering ANOMALIA to be one of a kind training and personal experience. So they themselves seem to benefit from the experience for their own future. Anthony Wong from PIXAR, having 20+ years of experience, thanked us for having him to lead the team of animators on a short film Wildlife Crossing (2013) which was an amazing experience for him because he told us how much he learnt about team direction and independent production. This was amazing to see that even people of his kind benefit professionally and personally from ANOMALIA. He wants to return. So yes, we hope to be here for everybody who is able to see their own benefits in the opportunities we provide.

    6. What are the plans for the future?

    We would like to further offer 3D Character Animation programmes for animators to sustain and expand their art and professional horizons and networking, because only well-trained and growing animators can survive in the industry. Animation is about constantly growing and working on skills, so since it is more about continuing professional learning (an animator cannot stop learning only because his her academic education is over) and ANOMALIA is virtually the only professional platform dedicated to such expert growth. We feel obligated to try to run the show for as long as we can.

    Our new plans also include a laboratory program team and project development experience so dedicated animation artists and independent teams have a chance to develop their skills while working on their project trailers from storytelling to design and animation courses that work seamlessly together as a chain. They should end up with a solid boost of their skills and a project pitch at the same time. Animation is not a field to become only an employee, it is a place for entrepreneurs who are able to collaborate in a team together and bring new independent projects to reality.

    7. How is Anomalia funded and what are the fees for participants?

    MEDIA, the European cinematogramy fund, supports ANOMALIA with 60% funding and the rest of the budget comes from course fees. So in effect, the programme is non-profit and the participants become virtually coproducers so the program is able to exist to their own benefit.

    8. The Czech Republic has a long tradition in animation. How does ANOMALIA fit into this tradition?

    There has been a long tradition of Czech classical animation, which is still being recognised by many artists in global animation. Yet ANOMALIA is rather an anomaly in the region even 25 years after the political revolution and transition into a free trade market which slowly brought a new mindset and influences which started to shape animation, because there has been no natural utilization of modern CG animation or the current state of the art of professionalism and modern filmmaking across the board of existing institutions, organisations, studios and the animation artists themselves. One would think such logical evolution of the craft would be a natural walk for the animation field. But such evolution has not come from the established players. Therefore, ANOMALIA currently tries to fill the gap with organised steps that should lead to such long term and systematic evolution in the areas of building a competent talent pool, methods of project development and popularisation of CG animation in the region.

    Academic education pursues the exact opposite direction and focuses only on individualistic author oriented animation and personal art. But since animation is by its own definition a collaborative field, because such production is defined by many expert professionals and also because an animation project would take ages to produce with only one person, a team always produces better results than a single person. ANOMALIA offers animation artists and producers such new opportunities for collaborative and potentially bigger projects.

    I believe that the future of Czech and Central European modern animation is in utilizing the fine art concepts and classical tradition and experience in combination with digital and collaborative opportunities of current global mindset. Since animation has always been about fine tuning the art skills, techniques and tools equally (even storytelling is exposed to new ways of thinking and methodology), we hope we are currently defining such a necessary stream of additional opportunities into the rich pool of Czech animation achievements of the past and the future.