Christopher Landreth, animator, writer, producer (b at Hartford, CT 4 Aug 1961). Chris Landreth, Canada's most talented computer-animation artist, received a Master's degree in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois (1986). He was hired by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSC), where he blended his understanding of science and his ability to animate. In 1994 he was brought to Canada by the software company Alias/Wavefront (now Autodesk) to be its senior animator. It was his job to test new products, and his work was the driving force in developing Maya in 1998. The revolutionary software allowed animators to quickly and intuitively interact with the characters as digital puppets, and became the most widely used animation software in the world.
This led to the end (1997), also written by Landreth. A tongue-in-cheek satire on animation festival films, it focuses on an animator who becomes a character in his own work as he and his drawn characters parry over the best possible ending. It won numerous awards and was nominated for an Oscar. His next film was Bingo (1998; Genie Award for animated short), based on a short play, Disregard This Play, by Chicago's Neo-Futurist Theatre Company. The story is about an existentialist hell in which the central character is told he is a clown. First he denies, then he argues, then he despairs and, ultimately, he concedes.
Leaving Alias for freelance work, Chris Landreth linked up with Sheridan College's world-renowned animation program and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to create Ryan (2004), a brilliant 14-minute meditation on the life of former NFB animator Ryan Larkin. Tragically, Larkin had succumbed to cocaine addiction and alcoholism and become a panhandler on the streets of Montréal. In a process that Landreth describes as "psycho-realism," conversations between breathtakingly rendered animated versions of Landreth and Larkin are interwoven with excerpts from Larkin's films (Walking and Street Musique), animated interviews with NFB producer Derek Lamb, and kinetically manipulated still photographs of the younger Larkin. Ryan achieves a prismatic, even kaleidoscopic perspective on this deeply troubled man and gifted artist. It won the Oscar and the Genie Award for animated short in 2005 (and more than 50 other international and festival awards). Chris Landreth's film The Spine (2009; Genie nominee) is also a co-production with the NFB.