Kwon and Bidinger Win Animation Award
Ringling College of Art and Design alumni continue to make waves in the world of computer animation, with graduates Michelle Kwon and Michael Bidinger winning “Best Computer Animated Short” at the 42nd Annual SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival in Los Angeles with their animated senior thesis film Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou.
With a style and palette reminiscent of the animation titan Pixar Studios (which hired Bidinger post-graduation), the short follows the afternoon adventures of the interminably unfortunate Jenkins, downtrodden by Greek myth levels of rotten luck, and the effervescent Lou, seemingly touched by the hand of Lady Luck herself, as they tumble and soar through the colorful and chaotic streets of an animated San Francisco. With nary a frame wasted, it’s a barrage of visual gags with an attention to detail one expects from a major Hollywood studio.
“I thought it’d be interesting to explore two very opposite characters in how they would interact and even balance each other out,” said Kwon, currently in LA where she works as a 3D generalist for entertainment studio JibJab Media. “I was inspired by real people in my life and the dynamics of people who are so different but somehow work things out.”
With six months of pre-production, storyboarding and designing characters and such, and then a full year of animation proper, Kwon said she and Bidinger had plenty of time to bring the finished product to their standards. “We split the responsibilities 50/50, with each focused more on different parts,” said Kwon, “But we both touched film in all aspects.” Kwon took a leading role in art direction and the look for the film, while Bidinger helmed technical aspects, particularly character movement, she said.
“I’ve always drawn and I wanted to do it as a living,” said Kwon, when asked about her choice to pursue animation. “I thought animation was cool and a practical way of implementing artistic skills and making a career.” As for her time at Ringling College, “It definitely helped,” said Kwon. “The biggest thing is the environment and being surrounded by talented artists all the time.”
Hard at work for JibJab, Kwon has ideas for her own side projects and she looks forward to SIGGRAPH in August, but for now, “I’m just taking it easy.” Asked about future collaborations with Bidinger, she said nothing’s planned, but she’s open. “Perhaps,” she says. “Maybe.”