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Interview of Asaf Agranat - May 2007

Asaf Agranat is a 28-year old talented young man whose name must ring a bell to any TVPaint user's ear and by extension to a lot of animation lovers.
With his graduation film, 'A bus ride and flower in her hair', Asaf won the Scottish BAFTA 2005 for Best Short Animation as well as the Royal Television Award for best animation, also in 2005. The short also won the Special Prize at the festival of Hiroshima 2006 and the Special Prize of the Jury 'For mature direction in the young cinema' at the KROK festival in 2006. A pretty nice and promising list for a graduation work, that's the least we can say...

Today TVPaint is glad to share with you his vision and feelings through some questions that he nicely agreed to answer...

About Asaf Agranat

Preview of 'A bus ride and flowers in her hair' of Asaf Agranat

TVPaint: Can you introduce yourself please ?

Asaf Agranat: I have a short beard these days. I spend too much time thinking. you better meet me when it's sunny, otherwise I'll be grumpy. Other than that, I make films, mostly animation, flat and suggestive.

TVPaint: How long have you been in business?

Asaf Agranat: I'm not so sure I'm in the business yet. I do work freelance sometimes, but I never feel I am part of the animation business. ultimately, I want to do film and animation as art only (i.e. lock myself in a dingy studio and chain smoke as I enter a frenzy of sleepless, fruitful work. yeah, right). For money I can do a lot of other things...

TVPaint: How big is your company ?

Asaf Agranat: Company? Control freaks like me don't get to make company.

TVPaint: What is your title at your company?

Asaf Agranat: 'lost boss'

TVPaint: How did you get started in computer graphics?

Asaf Agranat: I can't remember when it started, but I remember being fascinated by Amigas as a child. I always wanted one. I started using software more seriously in the mid 90s, as I was in a vocational high school which taught graphic design. Although we did all designs by hand, photoshop 2.0 and freehand eased some of the tasks.

TVPaint: How long have you been creating art with computers?

Asaf Agranat: 10-12 years, not consistently though.

TVPaint: How long have you been working with CGI?

Asaf Agranat: Same as above, but I got much more serious about it in the past 5 years. Yet, I still refuse to look at it as CGI, since I use computers as a tool, a mean to an end. I don't want to be caught in the too-easy swamp of generating everything by computers.

About Asaf Agranat's Work

Preview of 'A bus ride and flowers in her hair' of Asaf Agranat

TVPaint: Have you created any animated shorts before?

Asaf Agranat: Yes, I have made one accomplished personal film so far, an animation, which was my graduation film ('Bus ride and flowers in her hair'). Otherwise I have created animation for other films and projects ('The battle of Cable Street'), and have done some short shorts, as exercises, or experiments.

TVPaint: What sort of graphics do you use TVPaint Animation to create?

Asaf Agranat: I do traditional animation paperlessly. I use or create brushes that give me the look that I want (natural, washy, erratic etc.). TVPaint Animation gives you a platform to experiment, and that's what I like most doing.

TVPaint: What was the most challenging project you have worked on?

Asaf Agranat: My film 'Bus Ride and Flowers in Her Hair'. I did every bit in it, from sketch to print, and it taxed a lot of my sanity at the time (which is the way to do this, I believe). I used TVPaint version 7.0 (Mirage), which I didn't use beforehand, and the first month was a bit hellish, but once I got the gist, I was rolling.

TVPaint: Do you have any artists or film that really influence your work?

Asaf Agranat: Andrey Tarkovsky, Can, Norman Mclaren, Koji Yamamura, Buster Keaton, John Zorn, Igor Kovalyov, Vigo, Bresson, Tati, the list is very long, but you get the idea.

TVPaint: How long have you been using TVPaint Animation?

Asaf Agranat: More than 2 years (including Mirage)

TVPaint: What are some projects you’ve worked on with TVPaint Animation ?

Asaf Agranat: Battle of Cable Street, a performance about Chagall, TV ident for ITV2, my mom's birthday card, web design elements...

Asaf Agranat and TVPaint Animation

Preview of 'A bus ride and flowers in her hair' of Asaf Agranat

TVPaint: What do you feel are some of the best features in TVPaint Animation ?

Asaf Agranat: By far the best features are customizability, speed, multi-functionality and simplicity. I like the unfussy character of the program, and it's great potential appeal to experimental artists.

TVPaint: What are some of the main reasons you use TVPaint Animation?

Asaf Agranat: I work mainly in two ways: I either play around and experiment, or I set out to do a very particular work. When I play around, I do it completely in TVPaint, where I start by sketching out (usually abstract and random) and gradually build up towards a more constructed image – I find it immensely beneficial for concept work. If I set out to do a particular task, I try to finish the idea first in writing and thumbnail storyboards in a sketchbook as much as possible, and then, with the idea solid in my head, I start roughing out in TVPaint what I have in mind. Knowing the program for some time now I feel very comfortable with the interface, so the road to achieving what I'm looking for is all up to my imagination, rather than the abilities/disabilities of the program.

TVPaint: How has TVPaint Animation xx improved your work?

Asaf Agranat: Yes, More importantly, it allows me to create in a more classical fashion, yet with speed and no expense.

TVPaint: Did the advancements in TVPaint Animation make it easier to complete the shots and achieve better quality than you could have in the past?

Asaf Agranat: Of course. Largely because it frees me from computerized constraints. I always see TVPaint as an old-school studio rather than a technological platform. I can actually concentrate on the artwork, rather than on the technique this way. Still, it allows me to do go through the processes much quicker and, of course, much cheaper.

TVPaint: What tools in TVPaint Animation did you find most useful?

Asaf Agranat: The design of the timeline is great and clear. The ability to assign keys to any function is priceless. Classically good light table.

TVPaint: Do you use any tools to expand the native TVPaint Animation toolset?

Asaf Agranat: A few. Some of the additions that can be found in the TVPaint forums are great. I find TVPaint to be a bit tricky and somewhat unsatisfying out-of-the-box. But after you spend some time creating brushes and customizing the interface and the keyboard shortcuts you're pretty much ready to roll.Does the ease of use of TVPaint Animation assist your work?
Naturally. I must admit it still has many things that need improving. but then again, what is perfect? Necessity yields just more necessity... It is definitely my tool of choice, better than any other software I ever used before. If I had to choose only one program to go anywhere with me, TVPaint would be it.

TVPaint: Does the ease of use of TVPaint Animation assist your work?

Asaf Agranat: Naturally. I must admit it still has many things that need improving. but then again, what is perfect? Necessity yields just more necessity... It is definitely my tool of choice, better than any other software I ever used before. If I had to choose only one program to go anywhere with me, TVPaint would be it.

Conclusion

Preview of 'A bus ride and flowers in her hair' of Asaf Agranat

TVPaint: Are you currently working on any projects?

Asaf Agranat: I'm writing a film these days. It is a very slow process for me, as when working on my own I cannot squeeze ideas out very quickly, and life in the city distracts me most of the time. But I can't wait to move on from this stage and to start producing some work.

TVPaint: Do you have any special tricks you would like to share with the community?

Asaf Agranat: Eat very well, and be modestly ambitious.

TVPaint: What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own ?

Asaf Agranat: Watch a lot of films that are old. Read non-popular literature. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Be poetic and suggestive rather then literal and formulaic. Doubt your first idea. Doubt your second idea too. Don't worry about the looks, it will follow your intentions.

TVPaint: Do you have any suggestions for other users considering or just beginning with TVPaint Animation ?

Asaf Agranat: Use it. Struggle with it even. My first month on the program was hard. Hell hard. But I was using version 7. And now you have version 8+. You'll definitely have an easier beginning than mine was. Capitalize on that. And after the struggle you'll start reaping the benefits. You'll love it. But remember, it won't do the hard work for you. There are no shortcuts to truly great works.

TVPaint: What is your favorite french expression ?

Asaf Agranat: “Au secours!”

TVPaint: Anything else you love about TVPaint Animation?

Asaf Agranat: Yes, The most important thing, in fact: the people who make TVPaint. A bunch of open, welcoming helpful people. I cannot stress enough how fantastic it is to know that almost any of my needs, complaints and bewilderments is answered swiftly at the TVPaint forums. If any other software company worked so responsively with its customers as TVPaint do, computer world would have been a strangely wonderful place.

TVPaint: Ok, so my last question is : Asaf, do you want to marry me ? :)

Screen Shots

Trailer of 'A bus ride and flowers in her hair'