The Breadwinner

Myself and Inês went to see Cartoon Saloon’s new feature film The Breadwinner as part of the BFI London Film Festival last Sunday.

Images found here

The whole film was painstakingly beautiful from start to finish, and I of course was particularly enamoured with the internal story sequence, which was shot in the style of cut paper animation. I was disappointed to learn that this was actually digitally done to replicate the aesthetic of paper (obviously the images had been digitally retouched but I was kind of hoping the did the actual animation with physical paper), BUT the animators did work with a paper artist to achieve the right effects.

still from the paper story world of The Breadwinner found here

It’s like everything I love having a little baby together and hopefully if similar projects pop up in the future I could utilise my paper crafting skills alongside my animation skills. It was really inspiring to see something that encompassed everything I enjoy doing on a film screen. Go see the film if you get a chance it was so so gorgeous and heartbreaking and lovely.

Edit: Watch the video on the making of The Breadwinner on the official Facebook page here.

Photomasters

I went to the Photomasters Exhibition in the Old Truman Brewery last night. I found myself drawn in particular to the work of Lorenza Demata, who is completing her MA in LCC. According to her artist statement, her work deals with:

“ …notions of identity, distance and displacement in the migration context of London”.

“It is estimated that expatriates constitute approximately 40% of London population. At the same time, almost 50% of the total consumption of food resources in the UK relies on the importation of fruits and vegetables from other countries” 

What drew me to the photographs (aside from the obviously striking block colours) is the notion of a portrait being faceless. This idea is something I dealt with a lot within my BA practice, and I think greatly enhanced my desire to study the MA specifically dealing with characters. What you can tell from a person’s clothing or the objects surrounding them to me is more interesting than straight ahead portraits.

This notion of clothing containing a character within itself is at the moment the only thing I know I definitely want to address in my graduation film. I want to examine who you become in different clothing, and how much of you can be defined by what you cover yourself with. I also want to deal with the life clothing takes on outside of a body. This seems like a natural extension of the thoughts I was dealing with back in Dublin in my textile degree, and I’m excited to see how they progress with my newfound animation skills, while at the same time a little confused as to where this is going to lead. But I do always find it reassuring when I’m drawn to work that I feel echoes these notions, even if it wasn’t the artists intent. This is a story I want to explore, and it is relaxing to know that I can see echoes of that in other’s work I gravitate towards.

Check out more of Lorenza’s beautiful work here.

Crafty Animator Conference

I attended the Crafty Animator Conference in Rich Mix in Shoreditch last Thursday. It was a great way to ease back into the animation mindset post summer. I’m still processing a lot from the whole experience, it was a day full of talks and lectures on the various aspects of craft within animation, with a wide variety of speakers.

my view for the day

The main note I can’t seem to get out of my head was something that Birgitta Hosea said within the day’s opening lecture, regarding nostalgia vs productivity. She was discussing the impact working on a film in which each frame has been painstakingly hand-crafted and how productive you could physically be within that kind of constraint. She made an interesting point about the current fetishisation of technique, which makes the ideas behind the work nearly forgotten as the artist is so focused on the labour-intensive aesthetic.

I’m still unsure how I feel about this. She was discussing how some students deliberately take longer routes purely to achieve an aesthetic they could have replicated more quickly within an adobe programme, which I agree seems slightly unnecessarily pedantic if you could achieve the exact same effect within a computer aided programme. But I still think that hand crafted work and computer aided design do not need to be at odds with each other, and that the hand crafted process can be enhanced and eased with the aid of using more contemporary programmes. I also feel like this dismissal of slow, purely hand crafted animation takes away from the process the director and maker goes through. Obviously this kind of process isn’t suited to working within a fast paced industry, but within the scope of a personal artistic practice I don’t think we can by any means regard something as inefficient or unproductive. The textile artist within me I don’t think could ever not be crazily in love with painstakingly handcrafted animation, but I am fully aware that going into this final MA year and within the scope of my grad film, I will have to completely embrace the point where hand crafted and computer programmes intersect in order to get anything done.

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Amanita Design

Amanita Design are my absolute favourite game studio. I don’t play a lot of games, but when I stumbled across Machinarium a few years ago I was hooked. Their games are point & click puzzle games, and are very obvious labours of love. Everything is so beautifully designed and crafted and I get giddy just talking about them. Their new game Samorost 3 came out last year and I only recently sat down over the holidays to give it the attention it deserves.


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screenshots of Samorost 3 


Their games are always so painstakingly detailed and beautiful. Every single part of it feels deliberate and considered, from the background illustrations to their sound design to their super playful character designs.


machinarium-wallpaper-alley-1600x1200 machinarium-wallpaper-cover-1920x1200 machsongcharacters from Machinarium, in particular I love the bottom personified wrench character


I could literally spend all day going on about Amanita Design and the intricacies of the work they create and the stories they tell. They also designed and made the characters for Jan Svērák’s stop-motion movie called Kooky which centres around a teddy bear who gets lost in the woods. Having an ongoing love affair with sprouting vegetables, overgrown roots and dilapidated greenery (they are my all time favourite things to draw) the characters in Kooky give me a ridiculous amount of joy.


23_778-1030x689 19_113-1030x687 19_095-1030x687 22_157-1030x684 23_783-1030x689all images take from Jan Svērák’s website here 


I have each and every one of their games and I love them all equally. What was interesting playing Samorost 3 after Shaun’s technical Tuesday classes was my new ability to pick up on things like their use of parallaxing in their background to give the impression of depth. It’s really nice starting to be able to dissect and recognise techniques in animation, which in turn informs the decisions in my own work.
As someone whose practice is constantly informed by the discussion between intensely laboured illustration and sporadic loose doodles (I value both on equal footing), Amanita Design’s work provides an insight into how these two things can work together successfully. In Samorost 3 there are a series of books that explain the backstory of the game and provide hints if needed, which are playful and loosely illustrated in contrast to the highly worked setting they exist in.


screenshots of the game showing the difference in styles and how the two morph together in the bottom dream sequence


This combination of styles is something I really want to incorporate into my own work as our projects intensify and grow longer, and I’m glad I found a company who encompass everything I strive to achieve. You can check them out here and I really do envy those who get to play their games for the first time.

Over the Garden Wall

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I recently finished watching Over the Garden Wall, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Created by Patrick McHale, it’s a ten part miniseries made for Cartoon Network. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this entranced by an animated series, and I’m still trying to pinpoint what exactly it is about this show that keeps it rolling around in my head.

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Above is my favourite character called Greg, and his pet frog that changes name several times through the series. Each episode is only ten minutes long yet for me encompasses the perfect blend of quality illustration and ridiculous, whimsical storylines that I adore. The backgrounds are insanely beautiful and according to wikipedia are digitally painted to resemble grisaille paintings.

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Some backgrounds designed and painted by Nick Cross, the art directer for Over the Garden Wall
Backgrounds designed and painted by Nick Cross, art directer for Over the Garden Wall

As Greg and his brother Wert wander through the woods, each episode introduces a new array of characters and creatures.

Auntie Whispers, one of the most terrifying characters I've seen, who seems to bulge in every way
Auntie Whispers, a most terrifying character, who seems to bulge in every way.
These pumpkin creatures feature in Episode Two
These pumpkin creatures feature in episode two, Wert is to the right.
The Woodsman, and to the right the gleaming eyes of The Beast.

The show has this underlying menacing tone; for the entire breadth of it the children are being stalked by a creature called The Beast who is constantly seen in shadow and feared by everyone in the woods.

Yet in every episode there is also some sort of nonsensical musical feature like Greg below singing about Potatoes and Molasses (which will get stuck in your head I promise).

It’s this bizarre concoction of whimsy and horror and beauty and laughter. I love love love it and I can see it being a repeat place for me to come back to as inspiration.

Images found on Over the Garden Wall official tumblr which can be found here, and check out Art Director Nick Cross’s blog here