Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PLUG: "Creating Memorable Images"

I'm very pleased to announce an upcoming talk by former Pixar colleague and friend Sharon Calahan. I was a student of Sharon's during the production of A Bug's Life, and I have used her teaching materials in my own classes, such as the chapter called "Storytelling Through Lighting" from the Advanced RenderMan textbook.

That chapter appears oddly-situated, a visual and non-technical treatise hidden deep in a book rich with SL programming tips and renderer architecture insights. This talk is similar in its contextual placement: although sponsored by the School of Cognitive Science at Hampshire (and by me, arguably a computer animation professor), it will be very much a talk about live action film visuals. There are no Pixar productions on the long list of films she is drawing from, and I don't think she'll say a word about render times, shadow maps, or RenderMan bugs.

Please don't be distracted by this disciplinary cross-pollination. The tools of computer animation are just another set of tools for making films, after all, so it is logical for someone working as a Director of Photography anywhere to draw from the larger history of cinema. If you've been in any of my classes, you know that computer animators (in the broadest sense) are simultaneously--by necessity--students of image making and computation. I am pleased, proud, and lucky that Hampshire has continued to see value in a program that mixes these disciplines regularly, and I am excited that Sharon is coming to share her insights with all of us.


Sharon Calahan, Director of Photography at Pixar Animation Studios, will be speaking at Hampshire College on Wednesday, October 7th at 6pm.

"Creating Memorable Images"

Why do certain images linger in our memories long after watching a film? Calahan will explore this question using a collection of favorite film images from over 70 years of filmmaking and over 80 films. She will share how she thinks about light and color in the creation of beautiful images that emotionally support the story of a film.

LOCATION: Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall, Hampshire College

SPONSORED BY: The School of Cognitive Science, Hampshire College

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Sharon Calahan joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1994 as lighting supervisor on the studio’s first feature film, Toy Story. She then served as director of photography on A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo. She was the director of photography on Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille, which won an Academy® Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Calahan is currently working on Cars 2.

Calahan knew at the age of three that she wanted to be an artist for Disney. She went on to study graphic design, illustration and photography. Following art school, she began her career as an art director for broadcast television and video production. Prior to joining Pixar, she was a lighting director at Pacific Data Images completing commercial work, longer format television, and graphics packages.

Calahan has given numerous presentations and taught many classes in character lighting, shot lighting, master lighting, and, more generally, painting with light and overall composition, both at Pixar as well as outside of the studio.

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