Docs

Asterisk animating non-fiction

Non-fiction filmmakers are increasingly turning to animation to spice up dry data or to capture an unattainable event or location. This is all good news for Asterisk Animation, whose executive producer Richard O'Connor and director Brian O'Connell spoke to realscreen about the great year they've had working on factual programs.
January 14, 2009

Non-fiction filmmakers are increasingly turning to animation to spice up dry data or to capture an unattainable event or location. This is all good news for Asterisk Animation, whose executive producer Richard O’Connor and director Brian O’Connell both vouch they’ve had a great year in business. Asterisk has been busy working for PBS, WNET and National Geographic, alongside commercial work for Mercedes, music videos and even a feature film, Rebecca Miller’s The Private Life of Pippa Lee.

The New York-based design and animation company has gained the attention of players like Sundance Channel through hard work and networking. In the case of Sundance, Asterisk had been working with political illustrator Steve Brodner and director Gail Levin on U.S. election commentary in short films based on Brodner’s illustrations. The New Yorker picked it up for its website and Sundance Channel took notice. ‘We retained the rights and wound up being able to put them on the Sundance Channel. They saw them, really liked them and wanted to put them as part of a political campaign package that they were doing [Voices of the Election],’ says O’Connor.

With the election over, O’Connor and O’Connell have already set their sights on tackling the newest hot topic, the economy. ‘It’s sort of a boring dry topic usually, but we think with Steve and Gail and our abilities in animation we can do some more interesting perspectives in terms of what’s going on with the recession/depression that we’re in,’ says O’Connell.

Before that happens though, the two men can still revel in jobs well done. Asterisk was nominated for an Emmy for Graphic Design and Art Direction for the work done on WNET’s four-part mini-series Curious. Their motion graphics can be seen next in Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, tonight on PBS.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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