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The Lion, the Bear and the Conference Hall

13 December 04

If you try to walk through the back of your wardrobe at home, you’ll just bang your head. But in the C.S. Lewis-authored series of books, it leads you to the magical world of Narnia. And Narnia is coming to the University of Teesside.

Animex, Middlesbrough's annual celebration of animation, returns in the New Year, and among the special guests is Bill Westenhoffer, Visual Effects Supervisor of the upcoming film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

A veteran special effects expert, Bill has also worked on Elf, Welcome to the Jungle, Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2, Men in Black II, Cats & Dogs, Along Came a Spider, Frequency, Babe: Pig in the City, Speed 2: Cruise Control and Waterworld.

Joining Bill at Animex Talk!, the industry conference that is the centre point of the Animex festival, is award winning animator Andrew Daffy. Andrew is now hard at work on the new Bo Selecta Christmas Special, which follows the animated exploits of popular character Bear – the infamously cheeky celebrity interviewer.

Andrew also will be delivering a week long workshop prior to the festival.

Chris Williams, Animex Director, said: “Bill and Andrew joining Animex will be a real treat. We’ll be getting first hand advice from a major Hollywood talent, as well as an innovative, risk-taking TV programme maker. Bill has worked on a string of huge movies, showcasing some of the best visual effects, while Andy is part of the new generation of animators looking to subvert the traditional form.

“The best animation can take you to another world, and with Bill and Andrew, we’ll be visiting the children’s fantasy land of Narnia and the bizarre, adult world of the Bo Selecta bear.”

Bill Westenhoffer will be helped in his talk by Stuart Sumida, a professor of palaeontology and anatomy who advises animators on the skeleton/muscle structure of people and animals to ensure realistic movement. Stuart, who attended Animex in 2004, will be offering his insight into the creation of the animated characters, both human and animal. Stuart has advised animators on several films, including The Lion King, Hercules, Mulan, Beauty & the Beast and both Scooby Doo movies.

Animex includes Animex Game, a two-day video games conference, Animex Workshops, a day dedicated to the practical skills of animation, and Animex Talk!, the industry conference attended by a variety of speakers. There is also the chance to see animation created by local community groups and children, as well as the opportunity for local professional and amateur animators to receive commissions to create new work.

Another highpoint will be the results of the Animex Awards – an international competition which has attracted more than 450 entries from over 28 countries.


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