By Zona Marie Tan

The Australian animation industry is stirring at the wake of Happy Feet’s achievements, indicated by an increased level of interest in education.

So says Andrew Gordon, animator from one of the world’s leading animation studios, Pixar, to Inside Film. Gordon, who was in Sydney yesterday to conduct a theory animation master class with Autodesk, was here for his second time following the success of his first animation workshop last year.

“More than any place I’ve been to, Australians have a real thirst for knowledge. That in itself is hard to find,” Gordon says.

“I think what I’m teaching is different than what they’re used to,” says Gordon. “It’s not just button pushing and how to use a piece of software. It has more to do with technique and what Pixar look out for, specifically in the world of feature animation.”

Gordon, who most recently worked on Pixar hit Ratatouille and previously on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, says that he believed Australia has a lot going for them after the success of Happy Feet.


“I thought it was totally different. Happy Feet was a perfect use of motion capture because they were penguins with an anatomy that looked like they might fit inside a person. I think it was a great use of that technology and it looked beautiful.”

When asked what the industry could do to replicate that success, Gordon says that the only way to go was to continue churning out original ideas.

“The easiest thing would be to say ‘Let’s make a sequel.’ But I think they should try more different ideas and not rely on a formula.”

He also says that the industry shouldn’t over-analyse the reason why Happy Feet made money, but be story-driven and unique.

“I think it is always going to be about a good story, good work and something that resonates with people. It is also important to try to take risks, if possible. Try something different.”

Yesterday Pixar and Walt Disney announced its upcoming slate of films through 2012, including sequels Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, as well as The Bear and The Bow, and Bolt. In 2009, Pixar will release its first 3D animated feature, Up.


Andrew Gordon will be at Monash University, Melbourne on April 11 and 12 for the Autodesk Animation Workshop. For more information, visit this link.

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