Poppy

Short Film, 2009 (Full Length)

In Poppy two Kiwi soldiers discover a baby in a muddy WWI trench. For Paddy it will lead to redemption amidst the hell of war. From a David Coyle script — based on his great-grandfather’s war story — Poppy was another successful computer-animation collaboration between producer Paul Swadel and director James Cunningham (Infection, Delf). CGI evokes a bleak Western Front landscape on which the (motion-captured) human drama unfolds. Cunningham spent over 4500 hours making Poppy; the result was acclaim at Siggraph, and invites to Telluride and SXSW festivals.

Room that Echoes

Peking Man, Music Video, 1985

"I'm gonna build a room that echoes, around and around and around with its own sound." Peking Man's career peaked in 1985 with 'Room That Echoes', a number one hit that saw the band dominate the 1986 music awards. Directed by John Day, the surrealistic video features animated computer graphics of the afore-mentioned room, slowly building wall by wall and tracking against a background of stars. Margaret Urlich is the only band member present, appearing as a lone silhouetted figure dancing across a checkerboard floor.

Underwater Mountain

Tim Finn, Music Video, 2000

Website AllMusic argued that the stripped back, "vagually rootsy" sounds of the Nashville-recorded Say It is So made for one of Tim Finn's finest albums to date. The mostly animated video for the opening track follows a depressed computer worker who goes stir crazy, before making a lucky escape alongside the only woman in the office. Aside from romance, he soon discovers adventure can spring less welcome surprises. Directors Matt Heath and Chris Stapp (who made this before their bogan extravaganza Back of the Y) get in an environmental message, once things get aquatic.

George Port

Special Effects

The founding member of Oscar-winning special effects house Weta Digital, George Port laboured for seven months solo on the digital effects for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. He went on to found Auckland effects company PRPVFX, which has supplied special effects for Xena: Warrior Princess, Rain of the Children and Green Lantern.

Series

Media Design School short films

Short Film, 2009–ongoing

Made at Auckland's Media Design School, these CGI heavy short films combine the expertise of lecturer James Cunningham (director of award-winners Poppy and Infection) with the raw smarts and hard work of his 3D animation students. With established industry talents helping guide the students, the results have won awards and selection to an impressive range of international festivals, including computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH. 2011's effort saw the screen debut of alien hunter Dr Grordbort, originally created by Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore.

Ian Taylor

Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi

Former Spot On presenter Ian Taylor, CNZM, is the founder of computer graphics company Animation Research Limited. ARL made its name providing real-time sports graphics at the 1992 America's Cup, and has gone on to apply their technology to golf, cricket, tennis and Formula One car-racing around the globe.

Valley of the Stereos

Short Film, 1992 (Full Length)

Valley of the Stereos is a comic face-off that starts tinny, but gleefully escalates to bass heavy, as a not-so-zen hippy (Danny Mulheron) gets caught up in a vale-blasting battle with the noisy bogan next door (Murray Keane). Made by many key Peter Jackson collaborators, the near-wordless pump up the volume tale was directed by George Port, shortly before he became founding member of Jackson's famed effects-house Weta Digital. Ironically Weta's computer-generated miracles would help render the stop motion imagery seen in the finale largely a thing of the past.

Ready to Roll - opening titles

Television, 1975 (Excerpts)

The opening sequence of music show Ready to Roll is imprinted on the eyes and ears of many Kiwi music fans. The show jumped directly from the opening graphics to a quick rundown of the week's top 20 singles. Here are two of RTR's beloved openings: the late 70s version is scored to 1974 Commmodores instrumental 'Machine Gun'. In the 80s, Peter Blake's synth number had taken over from funk, and the colours favoured electric neon. The graphics owed a debt to the arcade computer games that followed Space Invaders. The week's featured acts came next, then the countdown. 

Andrew Adamson

Director, Writer

Andrew Adamson, NZOM, began his career at Auckland computer animation company The Mouse that Roared. After moving to the States and working in visual effects, he won fame in 2001 after co-directing Shrek, the first film to win an Academy Award for best animated feature. Adamson has returned home to shoot the first two installments of the Chronicles of Narnia, followed by Lloyd Jones novel Mister Pip.

First Contact

Short Film, 2010 (Full Length)

This live-action CGI short attempts to find the answer as to why UFO sightings have been in decline recently. The truth is indeed out there, but in this sci-fi spoof, it turns out to be the result of alien bureaucratic cover-ups, outsourcing and an unorthodox use of space probes. The film was made by students in the 3D Productions course that director James Cunningham teaches at Media Design School — a one day green screen shoot, 14 weeks of post-production. Written by Nick Ward, First Contact won selection to computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH 2011.