Saturday, April 13, 2013

Women Animators: Madi Piller

NOTE: This post originally appeared on my Smudge Animation site on March 16th, 2010.

Madi Piller was born in Lima, Peru. She graduated from the University of Lima with a degree in Communication Sciences before spending several years producing television commercials. She traveled to France and Colombia before finally settling in Toronto in 1998. Madi is the current president of the Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) and divides her time between mentoring budding filmmakers, organizing events for TAIS and producing her own films. Madi produces her films with a wide variety of techniques and subject matter ranging from the traditional stop-motion fare to abstract experimental slices of life.

Vive Le Film (Long Live Film)
Madi does a fair amount of work using digital rotoscoping. The original rotoscope technique had animators capture a scene in live action on film stock then project the film, one frame at a time, on the backside of a light table. The animator would then draw the character on paper, frame by frame, using the action on the film as a guide for the character's motion. Madi has taken this method of filmmaking a step further by combining both digital and analog techniques to create her films. For example: when creating her 2007 film 'Toro Bravo (Brave Bull)', Madi combined charcoal drawings, sand, cut-outs and photocopies with digital rotoscoping and editing techniques to produce the final film.

However, she is no stranger to traditional analog techniques. In her 2006 film "L'Etranger (the Stranger)", Madi printed each frame using a black-and-white printer before hand painting them and optically printing the finished film on 35mm film.

Interview with Madi Piller by Grayden Laing

2008 was the first time I attended the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International and that trip gifted me with several friendships. One of which is Madi Piller. I met Madi at the opening night party and was immediately intrigued with her stories of the Toronto Animated Image Society. Half a year later, I attended my first TAIS workshop (Martine Chartrand's Paint-on-glass).


Since then, Madi has been instrumental in my joining TAIS and learning multiple animation techniques as well as encouraging me to participate in their summer screenings by finishing and submitting short films (sometimes you need some accountability to finish that film when you could be watching t.v. or surfing the web). It was due in no small part to Madi's influence that I joined the Toronto Animated Image Society this year. Having become sort of a fixture at many of their workshops and summer screenings, at my last visit to Toronto, Madi extended the offer that if I ever needed to use their equipment, then I was welcome to submit a proposal and they'd work me into the schedule--even though I wasn't a member at the time or even a resident of Canada. It was that welcoming attitude, which Madi consistently displays, that made the decision for me to join TAIS and make the move from being a supporter who attends their events to an actual member with a vested interest in supporting TAIS's (and Madi's) commitment to the art of animated film.