Monday, November 22, 2010

Thoughts on CTN Expo

This past weekend, I attended my first CTN Expo down in Burbank. For those of you who may not know, CTN is a three-day animation-focused convention, mainly for animation professionals & students (though there seemed to be a fair around of just plain fans there, too.) It's what I imagine Comic Con was about 15-20 years ago. Just artists meeting and sharing their work and having the kinds of discussions many of us just never have the time or opportunity for.

Since this was only the second CTN Expo ever, it was cool to see it in its early stages, without all the corporate hype that surrounds Comic-Con and WonderCon. (However, GM apparently wanted to be first on what they think will be the next bandwagon, and had costumed elves handing out T-shirts. They were the only people in costume and completely stuck out of the crowd.)

Even though I could only make it fro Friday, it was still well worth it. Ran into several old buddies I hadn't seen in a while, and got some good info from people at Disney (both TV and feature) and Sony animation. There was a pretty interesting talk given by Sergo Pablos, the creator of the characters and initial story that would become "Despicable Me." He had some great 2D concept art that he'd created to pitch what he called "Evil Me" to the studio, and while a lot was changed from his initial version, the core of everything was there. Funny to see it in 2D, and in a somewhat different art style than what showed up in theaters.

I also saw a talk about the new "The Looney Tunes Show" series, which was enlightening if not somewhat dismaying. I understand that the Looney Tunes characters are WB's "evergreens" and that they don't want to let go of them, the fact is there have not been too many truly great iterations of those characters since Termite Terrace shut down (and even in the waning days of TT, things were going downhill.) I do think that this show has the potential to be the best "spinoff" of those characters since Tiny Toons, but we're not talking about related "children" of the classic characters, but the characters themselves. What gives me any hope is that the crew spend 2-3 years going through several iterations that probably wouldn't have worked before arriving at what they have now, and that they purposely moved away from cutefying or kiddifying them, but instead grounded them firmly in adulthood. I remember avoiding "Baby Looney Tunes" like the plague, and this show seems to swing almost entirely away from that approach. I do like the character designs, they make the characters look distinct from the originals, without bastardizing them like.......well, we won't even bring *that* up!

So, CTN; it was a blast, gotta do the whole three days next year. Here's hoping it stays popular within the animation community, without becoming a lookie-loo show overloaded with vaguely-related things like Comic-Con, which is at this point, frankly, a beast. CTN Expo is a great place to just network and buy cool art and hear what's going on in our industry, and I for one couldn't be happier that it's taken off!