Thursday, May 10, 2018

Variety Unveils 2018 List of 10 Animators to Watch; Honorees Include Nickelodeon's Niki Lopez ('Capitán Calavera') and Amanda Rynda ('The Loud House')

Entertainment industry trade outlet Variety unveiled its fourth annual list of 10 Animators to Watch at a prestigious event held at Nickelodeon Animation Studio on Tuesday evening!

Presented by Nickelodeon, this years honorees include: Niki Lopez, creator of Nickelodeon's upcoming animated preschool series The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera; Amanda Rynda, art director on Nickelodeon series The Loud House; U.K. animator Paloma Baeza, director of the stop-motion short Poles Apart; Everett Downing, a key story artist on the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation feature Vivo; Trisha Gum, co-director of The LEGO Movie Sequel; Chris and Shane Houghton, creators of the new Disney series Big City Greens and contributors to Nick's Harvey Beaks; Niki Lindroth von Bahr, director of the award-winning stop-motion animated short The Burden; Diego Molano, creator of the new Cartoon Network series Victor and Valentino; Domee Shi, the director of Pixar’s forthcoming animated short Bao; and Ami Thompson, a character animator working on Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.

2017 honorees included Megan Nicole Dong (Pinky Malinky), Arthur de Pins (Zombillenium), Dorota Kobiela (Loving Vincent), Kirsten Lepore (Hi Stranger), Kira Lehtomaki (Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2), Dave Mullins (Lou), Julia Pott (Summer Camp Island), Carlos Puertolas (Boss Baby), Dana Terrace (DuckTales), and Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner).

In addition to Variety's 10 Animators to Watch 2018, the current issue of Variety features a Turtley Awesome Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (RTMNT) cover, titled "Animation Reinvention!" celebrating Nickelodeon's upcoming 2D-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, set to premiere in September 2018!

Find out more about Niki Lopez and Amanda Rynda in the bios below!:

Niki Lopez
The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera

“Being from Puerto Rico, I’d have to say that home, Indiana Jones and probably my unrequited childhood dream of becoming a Goonie have been injected into this little baby,” says animator Lopez of series The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera, which she created.

After climbing the ranks from intern to production assistant to color stylist working on shows at Nickelodeon including Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Fairly OddParents and Harvey Beaks, Lopez is now set to helm the CG-animated, 20-episode pirate adventure series that infuses a Spanish-language and -culture curriculum.

In researching for her show, Lopez traveled home to Puerto Rico in addition to St. Augustine, Fla., and New Orleans for inspiration. “But there wasn’t really a standout Latino pirate within the library of pirates within pop culture. And I felt like, if this show is going to be inspired by my upbringing, then I should make sure that Spanish is present in this project as well as the influences that come from Latin Caribbean culture.”

The Nick series following 8-year-old pirate Robi Montes as he faces such nefarious villains as Bonnie Bones does not have a definitive release date yet.

Lopez credits her first foray in animation to Disney World. “They had this attraction which is now closed called The Magic of Disney Animation, and I was fascinated by seeing these actual animators working and their tchotchkes on their desks. I just thought: ‘Oh, my God, that’s what I need to be doing. My ideas and my stories have an outlet through that.’”

— Tara Bitran

Amanda Rynda
The Loud House

After falling in love with animation as a college student at California Institute for the Arts, Rynda quickly went on to land a role as art director on The Loud House. The Nickelodeon show, which follows the everyday life of a young boy living with his 10 sisters, is now in its fourth season, and sees Rynda taking on the role of creative director when the show returns.

The series has been celebrated for its cultural and ethnic diversity, which, she says, is “a way for a broad range for viewers to connect to the show,” pointing out that many young Loud House fans love choosing their favorite characters to identify with. “To me, it’s really important that the characters stay true to who they are, so that’s something that I always look for.”

In her new position as creative director on the show, she will be helming some episodes, and aims to infuse issues that are important to her as a woman into the new season. “As a female director, there are definitely things that I’m looking at with more of a critical eye,” she says. “I think things like acting I may be more sensitive to as a woman, so I’m definitely a little bit more focused in that way. I’m trying to pick episodes to direct that really reflect that point of view.”

As for her future ambitions, Rynda says she is looking to expand her resume into more directorial projects, but admits she’s not one to plan too far ahead on her next move. “Kind of in the way I got into animation, I just love jumping into something and proving to myself that I am up for that challenge.”

— Kirsten Chuba

Check out bios for each of Variety's 2018 10 Animators to Watch honorees here on!

Update (5/10) - from Variety:

Brad Bird Says Animation Is Finally Being Respected as a ‘Viable and Vital Medium’ at Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch

CREDIT: John Salangsang/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

At Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch event in partnership with Nickelodeon, “The Incredibles 2” director Brad Bird spoke about animated films finally receiving the respect they deserve while accepting Variety’s Creative Impact in Animation Award.

In addition to Bird, Variety honored 10 animators at the event, including “Bao” director Domee Shi, Ami Thompson of “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2,” and “Victor and Valentino” director Diego Molano.

On the red carpet, Bird spoke about the relatability of “The Incredibles,” the limitless nature of animation, and his favorite emotional moment from an animated movie at Nickelodeon’s Studio in Burbank, Calif.

Despite a 14-year gap between the original film and the sequel, Bird said audiences will still connect with the Parr family in “The Incredibles 2” because “everyone has been in a family in a way” or had a “circle of people that you trust.”

Bird added that viewers become emotionally invested in animated movies because there is an “element of caricature” that connects them to the characters through their distinctive traits. “I think animation not only does that graphically, but it does it with movement as well,” Bird said. “I think it’s a very childlike, but wonderful way to look at life.”

He recalled a moment in “Peter Pan” that always makes him emotional. He described the scene where Peter and Wendy are flying through the sky and said the shot “captured the feeling” he has had in dreams of flying and was “beautifully executed.”

Before Bird was presented with his award, Mr. Incredible himself Craig T. Nelson introduced the director to the stage. Nelson shared memories from his recording sessions with Bird for his Mr. Incredible role, and said Bird recited the other characters’ lines. “I just kind of get entranced watching him do Edna, and Elastigirl, and Vi and Jack Jack,” Nelson said. “I go, “Well hell, why don’t we just film you?”

In his speech, Bird addressed the misconception that animated films are only meant for children, causing animators’ work to be “relegated to a second tier apart from the rest of filmmaking.”

“I don’t like [animation] being considered a genre or separate,” Bird said. “I think that we’re an amazing method of telling a story and that we should be respected as such.”

He said animation is now being seen as a “viable and vital medium to tell stories” to moviegoers of all ages.

He ended his speech with advice to future filmmakers interested in animation. “Don’t make a film for any audience that doesn’t include you,” Bird advised. “Too many bad films are made for them.”


The tiniest taco.

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Just meeting the one and only Brad Bird!! 😃🤩

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Congrats to the top ten!! 🎉✨👀

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a @variety of pics from last night

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Party on a Tuesdayyy! #variety #nickelodeon #insidenick

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At Variety's 10 animators to watch!!!

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More Nick: The Next Mutation: Nickelodeon Reinvents ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Blue’s Clues’ for a New Generation!

Originally published: Wednesday, May 09, 2018.

Original source: Animation World Network.
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