A graphic artist and computer specialist by training; Misha Zabranska was on the forefront of the high-end computer animation world for the last ten years. Using her unique blend of visual talent and technical prowess, Misha created and directed a number of original short films and television series in Europe, Canada, Japan and the US. In 2000 she teamed up with her husband Misha Votruba to create special projects for children and multimedia presentations. In May of 2001 "Misha Films", in collaboration with the choreographer David Parsons designed and produced large scale projections and set design for American Ballet Theatre performance of the "Pied Piper" at the Metropolitan Opera. Their first animated feature "Passers-by", which combines real footage with computer animated segments, will be released later on this year.
For the last four years, Misha was a lead animator at ‘Industrial Light and Magic’, company founded and owned by the godfather of special effects George Lucas, where she has lent her unusual talent for animating creatures to a number of recent box office hits. During 1993 Michaela did much freelance work including animator and designer of an animation for use in IRIS Research presentation video; designer of short sequences for a presentation of Life Forms software for Silicon Graphics’ CD-ROM Marketing Program "Hot Mix Volume 7"; modeler, software tester and developer for ‘Kinetic Effects’, Canada; software tester for "Dragon" in University of British Columbia, BC; and finally a creative consultant of "The Life and Death of the Classic Lillooet Culture", a documentary for ‘Computer Graphics Research Lab’ in Simon Fraser University.
In 1996 Misha was invited to the ATR Research Facility in Kyoto, Japan to become an artist in residence and to design and direct short film demonstrating the Gaitor human motion simulator. She joined VERTIGO Technologies Inc., a software development company Vancouver, BC as animator, demo artist, trainer and technical support. From 1994 and 1996 she directed and animated a number of episodes on, then the worlds only, 3D CGI animation television series "ReBoot" in Vancouver, Canada. To mark these groundbreaking achievements she picked up ten innovation awards from various institutions. In 1995 she worked as a senior animator in Electronics Arts (Canada) 3D video game "Sinbad". During 1996 and 1997 she was involved as the supervising animator for Mainframe’s other TV series production "Beast Wars". While in Vancouver BC she designed and animated a computer animation "Accelerate" for the development of conversion software between Vertigo and Life Forms.
In 1998, the series received among other awards the ‘Smithsonian Institute Innovation Collection Award’ for "The First Political Speech", animation short Misha created at a computer lab at the Simon Fraser University won invitations to a number of prestigious international festivals including the Hiroshima, Ottawa and Hong Kong Animation Film Festivals. Misha was also the designer of opening and closing title sequences for ‘Nova TV’, the first commercial television station in the Czech Republic. From 1995 to 1999 Misha held very popular 3D animation workshops and lectured graduate courses at ‘FAMU’, the Film and Television Academy of Prague.
Among her works, Michaela was lent her special effects talent to movie productions such as "Frankenstein and the Wolfman", "Deep Blue Sea", "The Green Mile" and "Small Soldiers". In May of 2001, Misha Films, in collaboration with choreographer David Parsons, designed and produced large-scale projections for American Ballet Theatre performance of the "Pied Piper" at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. One year later Misha Films created visuals for the performance of "Don Quixote" at the Saito Kinen Music Festival in Japan. In 2003, Misha Films collaborated with other New York artists on the projections for the new opera by Doug Cuomo: "Arjuna’s Dilemma" (dir. Wendall Harrington). Just recently, Misha Films completed a collaboration with the Envision Centre at Purdue University on the first part of animated visuals for a live multimedia performance act of the New Century Saxophone Quartet: "J.S. Bach: Art of Fugue".
Misha Films is presently developing "Spirits" a cross-media theatre performance piece combining the use of puppets, human action and projected animations with the designer/puppeteer Michael Curry. "Finn", a performance piece written by Jocelyn Clarke and combining real and projected characters is under development at Mabou Mines and will open theatrically in the US in 2008.