Saturday, December 30, 2006

2007 BERLIN & BEYOND—The Evening Class Interview With John Arellano

Ingrid Eggers, Program Coordinator for the Goethe-Institut, admitted that in previous years the Festival has had their trailer created by European companies. This year, however, Berlin & Beyond decided to go local and secured the participation of animation students of the Cinema Department of San Francisco State University. Directed by Raquel Coelho, with an original sound track by Marlon Torres, the festival trailer sports creative animation by Yi-Chia Mu (Betty), Peter Alan Davy, Romero Alves and John Arellano, who also served as editor. John and I sat down on the steps of the Goethe-Institut following the press conference to have a quick chat.

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Michael Guillén: John, you and your cohorts have created a clever festival trailer for Berlin & Beyond this year. How did that come about? How many animators were involved?

John Arellano: There were four animators. Then we had Raquel Coelho, the director, she's the new animation teacher at San Francisco State. She came from Tippett Studio. She's worked on a lot of major feature films like Happy Feet, which just came out recently. She was a big help and the driving force behind [the festival trailer project]. We had our own soundtrack guy, Marlon Torres, who made our own score. Basically, we handcrafted all the models and shot it with a digital camera, compiled it in a program and that's how you got what you saw.

Guillén: How did you come up with the concept? The sequence I enjoyed was where the map gets chopped up, fed into the character, and comes out in speech scrolls. That was cool.

Arellano: There was a lot of storyboarding. About 65% of the whole project, I'd say, was planning. Lots of planning. What we did was, we took the soundtrack, made it into a large sound wave, printed it out on 40 sheets of paper, had each frame designated for each millisecond of sound, broke it up into sections, and then we just sat in a big group and started shooting ideas around on what we wanted. In the beginning there's this German city so I had to go to the library and find a lot of books that had good pictures of German architecture, Berlin specifically, and we had this idea for the puppet communicating some kind of cross-cultural barrier. For the map we wanted to show something where we were kind of breaking down the borders between cultures with animation.

Guillén: It's a very effective trailer. I love animation. You guys have done the Festival a good turn. What about your personal background? Is this your first piece to have up on a big screen?

Arellano: This is my first piece that's been out there, yeah. We're happy with the way it turned out. [If you like animation,] every year in the Spring we have the animation finals. It's a film festival for the San Francisco State animators. All the seniors' final projects are going to be shown.

Guillén: It'd be fun to cover that. Please give me some advance notice as that draws near. Well, thanks very much for taking a moment. Again, congratulations. You've done a good job.

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