Friday, June 6, 2014

last day

as usual, "how did this happen?!"how did we get to the end of the week so quickly? with only a couple of hours left, we are in the animation classroom with edited soundtracks, adding title cards and graphics to make things coherent and to propose visual aesthetics for the eventual film.

audrey seh stepped in to say hello - a tireless worker and 2-time workshop participant in the workshop (2011, 2012), she is, along with nicolas savoye, about to graduate from eesi. in her case, she is working on an interactive project rather than a graphic novel or a film.

as usual as well, the best film would probably be the one about the project itself, filming us as we attempt to work smoothly together despite language and cultural nuance peccadilloes and the stress of a tight deadline. the french students are at a disadvantage, despite being in their own country, because the language of currency is english.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


min, tim, and merlijn working in the salle d'animation on their sequence. editing footage down to manageable soundbytes and then coming up with a graphic look to interpret the audio...

reviewing the interviews and watching our daily interactions, it feels like the best moments occur when we're working together or otherwise not focused on presenting ourselves. stores close at inconvenient hours and we get frustrated, french village streets resemble untrained snake trails, you have to weigh your vegetables yourself and put a price sticker on them (if you bring them to the cash register without having done this, you have to go back and do it, often)...

at what point should you kiss someone on the cheeks? after shaking hands and meeting for the first time? should you address them with the formal "vous" or the familiar "tu"? I met high school teachers yesterday. emmanuelle is a friend of claire's, and so because of the friend connection, "tu" seemed a natural thing. pascal, another instructor at Lycée Charles Coulomb, squeaked in a "tu" while I was talking to him, which permitted a reciprocal "tu" during the course of the conversation, even though there was no intermediary to help justify this familiarity. the last instructor was a bit more intimidating for me - the colleague of the colleague of the friend - I decided to opt for "vous" while interviewing her. the fact of the distance in terms of her knowledge of and participation in our project, combined with a personal energy that encouraged respect, kept things on a formal level.
tim expostulating at lunch, merlijn listening. it's interesting watching everyone interact. james and tim are verbally unafraid, and very eager to engage. merlijn speaks english very well, but is still at a bit of a disadvantage, faced with native speakers.
 2012 workshop alum nicolas savoye came in for a surprise visit - he and classmate (and fellow '12 workshop alum Audrey Seh) are finishing up their final projects, just about to graduate from EESI. Nicolas is working on a graphic novel, Audrey on an interactive piece made in Dreamweaver.

seeing a student two years on, without any time in between, you see a change that's not possible to capture if you see them regularly. nicolas seemed more self-assured, more confident than before (although he did pull a face at the end anyway, just for old times' sake, I imagine. his project looks polished, and he spoke about needing to create a blog in order to have a professional online space to present his artwork, which currently just resides on facebook.

tim's blog

here's a link to tim's blog.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

wednesday & thursday

day three of the workshop

a day of interviews and putting together rough animatics on a timeline at eesi. from more humble beginnings as a blog, the project has evolved into an actual documentary - we've recorded two days' worth of interviews, with teachers from Lycée Charles Coulomb, including Emmanuelle, Pascal, and Sophie, as well as students. Emmanuelle's English class was enthusiastic, with two British students (having to take the class as a requirement) leading the English-speaking charge. At lunch in the cantina, the students were able to talk one-on-one and were quite engaged.

at this stage, we have a good amount of interview footage, with some missing pieces/characters to capture tomorrow. at the moment, we're waiting for Claire so we can head back to the ranch and James can cook salmon (yay!).

Min/Lemon made a very successful chinese dish yesterday.

as far as the workshop content is going, we have two main themes: the nature of the critique and evaluation methods, and the relationship between students and teachers.

james and adèle are treating the theme of critique/evaluation. the challenge, given our goal of creating coherent animatic sequences by, erm, tomorrow, is to sift through all of our interview footage and make a "story." In this case, the narrative starts with provocation: the american/french system is great/awful as articulated by proponents and critics on both sides.

of course, the initial challenge is to elicit answers that aren't simply "politically correct," or overly relativist. naturally, most people are conscious of the fact of being recorded, and, for any variety of reasons, choose to steer clear of statements that could implicate them or label them as unfair, xenophobic, or clueless. but nonetheless, the unconscious does at moments manage to bubble to the surface, and the beginnings of an interesting narrative arc start to draw themselves in. in this case, the notion that critics and evaluation of students by teachers ultimately depends on the individuals involved more than anything else needs tension to make it exciting, so we're starting with views that are more black and white.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

more paris

arrival in paris, june '14 from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.
after notre dame, paris, we walked around, landing in shakespeare & company, the anglophile bookstore known as a mecca for wandering writers.
 james & min partook of their first parisian crêpes, on the left bank.
a water fountain in the city.

we saw a few sites (notre dame, louvre, montmartre, eiffel tower), not too many. james marveled at the paintings and sculpture in the louvre, and min at the fabric stores in montmartre.

it was a whirlwind nonetheless. our fourth and last day, we enjoyed a bistro lunch at kleber's, behind the trocadero, before meeting claire for the drive down to angoulême...

photographing the louvre pyramid
min on the pont des arts

james & min sleeping in the metro.

dinner at the hostel.

james catching up on e-mail.

IMG 4213 from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

louvre: mode d'emploi, chinois, japonais, anglais from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

mona lisa from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

1st floor, ground floor? from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

realist art & chinese tourists from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

Friday, May 30, 2014

summer animation workshop underway!

this was how most of day 1 went:
lemon (min) on the plane from philadelphia to paris. our flight was delayed for three-and-a-half hours due to a thunderstorm, runway congestion, and a defective heat sensor that had to be replaced. but what the heck, we were going to paris.

james had a much longer journey, starting in philadelphia, landing in chicago, then newark, and finally, paris: about a day's worth of traveling. I'll let him fill in the blanks on his own post. the plane itself was not full, so we got to stretch out a bit, which was nice.

lemon (along with james and myself), taking the train into paris from charles de gaulle airport. after preparing everyone to travel safe and smart, the first act I accomplished as we left the airport was to lose my wallet at the rer (suburban train) ticket window, so we had to get out of the train and return to the train terminus at the airport. fortunately, the wallet was there when we returned...whew! so, "do as I say, not as!"

james & lemon in the metro station, getting ready to see notre dame, shakespeare & company, and the exterior of the louvre. they are both good troopers, capable, willing to get on with it when the going gets tiring, and eager to see what they can see. the paris metro is different from the new york subway in that, for me at least, it's easier to figure out: most of the lines only have one train on them, not several, and although there's a lot of walking in tunnels between stations and going up and down flights of stairs, it's a pretty ordered experience. philadelphia street smarts are useful here - watch out for pickpockets!

if buildings could complain about having their picture taken too often, notre dame would be near the top of the list. we walked out of la cité metro station and caught up with this grand lady, nearly torn down at one point but saved in part by victor hugo's novel, in recent years polished clean again, rid of centuries of pollution and other grit.

once inside (and out of the drizzle), it was james who proved to be the most intrigued by the space, the spiritual feeling, and the history. he made an offering and knelt in the pews.

notre dame, as any large cathedral does, represents a complex web of political, social, and technical effort over the course of centuries. back when the church was vying for control over minds and souls along with emperors and kings, notre dame was not symbolic of god, but also of political power.

lighting a calendar after making an offering.

view of the nave from the central aisle.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

one week to go

it was a long time coming, and there are still loose ends to tie down, but we're headed to france in a week!

min, james, and tim will be participating in this year's workshop, starting in paris, then heading to a ranch in angouleme for a workshop treating the theme of pedagogical differences between french and american education, and then the festival in annecy to top it off.

lots of obstacles and speed bumps this time, with passports lost in the mail, cranky administrators at the french consulate, paperwork woes, etc., but the sun is shining, we have plane tickets, our reservations are made, and we're going to experience this experience and fill our minds with full days!

in the meantime, time to select things to pack, figure out schedules, and getting everything ready for pre-flight, generally.

more to come...