Deep down in the swamps of Louisiana, the adventurous little girl Evangeline finds a deserted alligator egg and hatches it under her bed, unbeknownst to her father Levon. The atmospheric 3D short film Evangeline brought some challenges for producer Nina Schwarz - which she solved creatively. Ever heard of a modelling party? More about it in the interview.
Nina Schwarz (b.1991) is a producer in the field of animation and VFX. She studied at the New School of New York for a year after graduating from high school in 2011 and took several courses on film production. Back in Germany, she did several internships in television and editorial work, including at NDR, and decided to study film production at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in 2014. After two years, she switched to Animationsinstitut to specialize in producing animation and visual effects. In April 2019, she received her diploma in Animation/Effects Producing with "Family Bonds".
Afterwards, Nina Schwarz worked as a freelancer at Animationsinstitut and M.A.R.K.13 in Stuttgart. There she supervised commercial productions with a high digital content as production assistant or production coordinator and was mainly responsible for combining live-action shooting with animation. Since May 2020, Nina Schwarz has been working as Production Manager at SERU in Ludwigsburg, where she is responsible for the production of "Meine Chaosfee und ich" as well as some 3D animation for "Häschenschule Teil 2".
Evangeline was the first major animation project that you did as a producer – it even lasted for several years. Did this result in special challenges for you and if so, how?
One of the biggest challenges for me was to keep the team spirit up. This was quite hard sometimes, because we worked on this production for servers years. Furthermore, I had to find new team-members, for new and upcoming challenges and production tasks. I think in the end, we can say that nearly the whole Animationsinstitut was involved in the production of Evangeline. We had team members from all animation classes and years, which was great, because students learned a lot from each other. We were lucky enough to have some team members, like Caroline Kiessling, Daniel Schmucker und Tim Lehr who stayed with us for a longer time and worked together as a really strong core team till the end.
For me as a producer it was very educational to be involved in the different steps of a movie production. So in the end the vision of the director became a jointed venture. Together we had a lot of mentoring sessions, like: story telling, sound and music, furthermore we had consultation meetings with people from the industry about the technical pipeline steps like animation and effects. The great thing about it: the artistic vision went always hand in hand, with the technical and production-based practicability.
As a team, we tried and worked with different project-tools. The initial stick-on notes were replaced by tools, like shotgun and FTrack. Tools I need in my current job and use almost everyday.
One important thing I learned by working on this project: how to sell and pitch a project. Since we were always looking for new people to join the team, we had to present and pitch the projects several times in front of the whole school. In the beginning I always used to be really nervous. But the more often we had to go up on stage and pitch, the more relaxed and confident I got. Nadine and I had the opportunity to experience „Cartoon Movie“ together. It was a great chance to learn from the „old hands“ of our industry. An educational and unforgettable journey, for both of us.
Evangeline required a lot of assets - from tea cups to furniture up to a whole ship. You have come up with a very special idea to get these assets for Evangeline. Two words: Modeling Parties. What is behind that idea?
We had a great artistic team, that developed a whole new and individual picture language for our movie Evangeline: Tobias Trebeljahr as Art Director, who took care of the house with all the interior and the hunters ship. Eddy Hohf was in charge of the character design and Sofiia Melnyk took care of the swamps and its flora. Together they created a world that could not be found in any asset-library.
We came to the point, where we realized that we woulodn’t have the man-power to model each asset by hand. On the other hand we didn’t want to change or loose the style of the movie. So we came up with the idea to organize „Modeling-Parties“.
They worked like this: we booked the computer room at our school, and invited all students to come and model one asset. They were team member for a night only. We had self-made snacks, like alligator-cookies, bayou-themed music and drinks.
Each student, who came could pick one or several assets that he or she liked and wanted to work on.
There were even students coming, who had no experience in modeling. But with the help of the other students they learned it during these fun evenings. The modeling parties were a welcome change, even for those students, who were working on their own diploma projects.
Since those evenings where such a big success and unbelievably efficient, I used this technique for other projects and tasks as well. For my diplom project Family Bonds, a 2D animationfilm, we established coloring parties. During those evenings each participant could pick a shot from the movie and color it - no prior knowledge needed. It was a great success as well.
The helpfulness at Animationsinstitut is outstanding, cause in the end we are all in the same boat and might need some help at some point.