(Screenshot via Vimeo)
Jay Keeree has to tell people “I’m an animator but not that kind of animator” because he works in motion graphics.
Keeree founded Philanimators, a meetup for local animators, in March 2018 after recognizing that while Philadelphia had an informal social network of professionals working in animation, motion design and motion graphics, there wasn’t an organized effort to get everyone in the same room.
For professionals working in a niche field, especially remotely, meeting up to talk shop without having to explain the basics of your profession can be a refreshing change.
“Everyone wants to figure out what you do but you don’t know how to explain it, just because our field is so new and so unique,” he said.
Despite the name, the Philanimators group also includes people working in motion graphics and motion design, which includes media like moving text in a video or the graphics in the corner of a television show that advertises the next program.
As the group has evolved, it’s become more than a chance to network and workshop challenge animators face on current projects: It’s also become a place for animators to push each other creatively.
“I’m a big believer in personal projects, especially in the creative fields. You can’t get that satisfaction from work alone,” Keeree said. “[We] like to create something we are passionate about to fill that void.”
Commercial work often pushes animators to develop technique, according to Keeree, but personal projects allow animators to follow their passions and have more creative direction over the final product.
That desire to challenge each other creatively and for collaboration is what lead to the group’s first augmented reality-themed show, “Walkie Talkies,” which ran in December. Thanks to the latest AR technology, the show did not have to deal with the high costs of providing an iPad or television for each artist’s work — instead, they used an augmented reality app, Artivive, that treats a static image like a QR code. When an attendee uses the app and points their phone’s camera at an image in the gallery, an animation plays on their phone.
The result played out like this:
While that show is the most visible example of the group’s collaborative nature, Keeree said that some group members recently collaborated on a larger commercial project as a result of meeting through the group (though details can’t be shared publicly yet). That emphasis on collaboration over competition pervades throughout the group and is meant to encourage new animators looking for community.
“We’re usually very helpful people, we can find people to connect you to,” said Keeree. The group is fairly informal: Philanimators meets in bars or studio spaces once every couple of months. Animators, illustrators, students and anyone interested in getting started in the field are all welcome to join.
The group’s next show, “Hot Boxes,” opens this Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at the Klip Collective studio at Bok.
While the first show, “Walkie Talkies,” focused on the theme of a walk cycle, this show takes a different approach. Each animator’s work will be inside of a pizza box and the rest is left up to the animator’s interpretation of the theme.
According to Keeree, the theme is tied to the location — South Philly and pizza go hand in hand, after all. But it goes a little deeper than that: “Pizza is such a unifying thing,” Keeree said.
The show runs through though Friday, May 3.-30-
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