A chat with Oscar winning animator Chris Landreth about his new film “The Spine”

The Spine - Chris LandrethThe Spine - Chris Landreth

I first saw and was deeply touched by Chris Landreth’s Oscar-winning animated documentary Ryan and the documentary Alter Egos (a film about Ryan and Chris) in the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival. And I wrote a blog entry in 2007 in memory of Ryan‘s passing.

So it was my great pleasure to chat with Chris to talk about his new film “The Spine”. The following are the three parts of my Skype interview with Chris.

By the way, here is a separate blog entry about the helpers of “The Spine”.

The Interview – Part 1

  • How did Chris conceive a story about the seemingly strange relationship between the couple Dan and Mary?
  • Explaining what does the term “psycho-realism” mean to him? And how did he apply “psycho-realism” in “The Spine”?
  • Three big questions that seem closely related to each others,
    • How does “The Spine” avoid “Uncanny Valley” (the “creepy” effect of making CGI characters too realistic) ?
    • Animators using a Method-acting approach ?
    • Balancing realism and stylization ?

The Interview – Part 2

  • All of the animations in “The Spine” were key framed (no motion capture). So “motion capture” seems to be quick and easy. Why don’t Chris like it? What are the trade-offs in Chris’ mind?
  • Chris talking about Polar Express, Final Fantasy, and Beowulf.
  • The Spine (2009) uses Maya V8.5 for modeling, animation, visual effects and some rendering and Bingo (1998) used Maya V1.0. Chris talks about how he feels about some of the changes over the years.

The Interview – Part 3

P.S. Here is a story genesis of “The Spine” from the NFB official site. Here is Chris’ “walkabout“.

I found this YouTube of Bingo. Enjoy.


Sept 23, 2009 Update: The Spine is going to be screened at the 2009 Calgary International Film Festival.


Nov 17, 2009 Update: The Spine wins in Portugal, “The Festival Internacional de Cinema de Animação, also known as Cinanima, has just awarded its Grand Prize to The Spine!!” Congrats Chris!

5 Responses to A chat with Oscar winning animator Chris Landreth about his new film “The Spine”

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