Short Cuts

You may remember reading about local Web-based animator Alan Watts in this space from time to time, but you're about to be hearing a lot more about him.

Watts Riots Redux Dept.: You may remember reading about local Web-based animator Alan Watts in this space from time to time, but you're about to be hearing a lot more about the man now that the prestigious digital film and arts mag RES has named him as one of its annual RES 10 in their current issue. The RES 10 is essentially a listing of movers and shakers in "the realms of music video, broadcast design, digital filmmaking, and Internet cinema." The enthusiastic article opens with the so-true-it-hurts lead line, "All that Houston-born Alan Watts ever wanted to do was help people procrastinate," which, if you're one of the poor saps who's found his real life vanquished by hours spent in front of a Mac while using Watts' terrific home animation studio, is pretty obvious from the get-go. The award-winning site uses an animation engine developed by Watts in his spare time to animate users' drawings and turn them into GIF-formatted movies. Think of an online Etch-a-Sketch with lots of funky bells and whistles, and you're in the ballpark. Coinciding with his appearance in the RES 10 is the release of version 2.0, which updates the site with the ability to import GIF files and assorted other new tricks. The unstoppable Mr. Watts is already hard at work on version 2.5, which will incorporate the ability to import actual MPEG clips into projects, among gobs of other new features. As if that weren't enough, Watts scored big during this past SXSW, where his appearance on the "Free Agent Nation" Interactive panel attracted the attention of members of bipedal rodent cult Disney, who have hired him to act as a technical and animation consultant on a new animated kids show on their network. Watts hasn't received the script yet -- "something about a scooter," he enigmatically says -- but the basic idea behind the hiring is in line with Disney's attempt to keep the animation stateside instead of their usual habit of exporting to Korea or elsewhere. But wait, there's more! Watts will be teaching a free animation class this June at the Manchaca branch of the Austin Public Library as part of the Dell Computers-sponsored "Wired for Youth" classroom series. The class is aimed at junior and high school students or, as Watts calls them, "my future minions." Given the animator's progidious output of late, a 16color army of like-minded mini-toonmakers isn't so far-fetched. We are legion, indeed. Call the library at 447-6651 for more info, and check out Watts' other Internet site, the turn-your-photos-into-cartoons machine while you're at it. Geez, does this guy ever sleep?… In other, non-Alan-Watts-related news, the Austin Film Society is looking for someone to fill a senior coordinator slot with their Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. Applicants should have "strong organizational and interpersonal skills as well as a knowledge of and passion for cinema," and responsibilities will include coordinating publicity, workshops, and so on. Send a résumé to Elisabeth Sikes, re: TFPF01 Senior Coordinator Position, 1901 East 51st, Austin, TX 78723, or e-mail tfpf@austinfilm.orgAlleywood Studios' upcoming classes with casting director Gary Chason have been postponed until today, April 12, which still gives you time to register if you haven't done so already. Registration is $200 for four classes (April 12, 19, 26, May 3). Call 441-4738 for more info… Local filmmaker David Zellner's goofy mad-mime-on-the-loose comedy Plastic Utopia -- nominated for a Best Feature Award at the Austin Film Festival in 1999 -- has finally secured the wide-scale release it deserves, albeit on video, from EI Independent Cinema. The film is available at, among other outlets, Encore Movies and Music (8820 Burnet).

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alan watts, 16 color,, david zellner, texas filmmakers production fund

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