Cassidy Curtis (supervising animator, How to train your dragon) and Jim Capobianco (writer, Ratatouille) raised the bar of the 4th Animasyros festival in Greece.
Cassidy Curtis can make the complicated appear elementary: his talk on the transition from 2D to 3D (or computer) animation was full of respectable Disney mentions, but also of the problems early 3D computer animators faced.
Curtis humbly verified that human characters were the most tantalizing to model in 3D, something evident in the Andy profile of Toy Story. Yet, the story of 3D animation is full of trials and errors: from drawing to animating, a whole lot of beautiful things gets shelved or simply thrown away (and not only in Dreamworks Animation).
The best rule for success in animation is work, collaborative refinement and further work. Even though this sounds as a trivial non-starter (even independent animators have their own co-workers and studios nowadays), what Curtis really presses is that creativity can emerge only in group effort. Face expressions that cause trouble need to be acted out by animators themselves, and live-action directors who don't know about animation need an intensive meeting course with animators and other creative persons to find out how to proceed in animation.
Jim Capobianco, Oscar-nominated for the script of the Ratatouille, has the bigger picture. Pixar may be a collaborative effort, but it is also a creative effort. It does not impose marketing rules (still, its output needs to be kid-friendly), and, unlike Disney, it never adapts from literary sources. It finds its own relevant stories.
Capobianco has worked on the art-meets-science end credits of Wall-E, and also directs short films (the latest of which is Leonardo, a comedy based on the Renaissance genius, and the offiicial premiere of Animasyros 4.0).
What comes afterwards? Working at a Hollywood animation studio is not easy, and one should not expect innovations in style or themes to apply immediately to a big-budget animation project. Still, animators and directors are people who can have an eye on what their European and Asian counterparts are doing. And this is a nice thing to hear.