Glen Keane on INBTWN Glen Keane on INBTWN

INBTWN Animation launches today with an interview with animation legend Glen Keane, who made his feature directorial debut earlier this year with Netflix’s Over the Moon.

INBTWN, which is partnered with Cartoon Brew, bills itself as an “animation convention & festival built from the ground-up for today’s digital audiences.”

Contrasting itself to in-person festivals and events that hastily switched to online formats this year, INBTWN was designed from scratch as an authentic digital experience. There is an INBTWN website that will present schedules and archives of older programs, but the event is decentralized, with each event taking place on the most appropriate platform, whether it be Youtube, Facebook, Tiktok, or Twitch.

INBTWN’s mission is to connect animation studios with online audiences. It bills itself as a virtual celebration of the animation world, presenting project announcements, reveals, and deep-dives from studios, production companies, and industry service providers. Programming will take place year-round.

It’s fitting to launch INBTWN’s programming with an industry titan like Glen Keane. Even with almost half a century’s industry experience and a pile of accolades that would reach to the moon, Glen Keane continues to develop as an artist and explore new frontiers. The veteran Disney animator has just completed his most ambitious project yet: directing Over the Moon, an eye-popping feature that’s equal parts cosmic adventure and fokloric romance.

As he tells INBTWN’s Jen Hurler in a wide-ranging interview, Keane faced a number of new tasks in this work. It was his first feature as director, and his first experience directing a cg film. As a China-set film, set up as a co-production between Netflix and Shanghai’s Pearl Studio, Over the Moon also placed Keane on a cultural learning curve: he had to tell a story that was at once universally appealing and authentic to its origins.

Keane takes viewers behind the scenes of an unconventional production that ranged across China, North America, and other countries besides. He discusses the process of “embedding myself in a Chinese mindset” and picking up on nuances while on a research trip in China: the subtleties of bowing, the myriad colors of a wall in a rural village…

The director talks us through what he learned from his team of 120 animators (led by Sony Pictures Imageworks), many of whom are children of the cg age, and what he taught them. One of his aims was to move beyond the “Disney look” that’s in his DNA, and he tells INBTWN what this meant in practice. He also recalls his own “painful” attempts at doing cg animation while working on Tangled, a Disney feature he developed and was closely involved with.

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