Animation

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Animation

João Gonzalez’s Animated Short ‘Ice Merchants’ Follows a Cliff-Jumping Father and Son

January 9, 2023

Grace Ebert

A frigid and precarious tale, the beautifully animated short film “Ice Merchants” by João Gonzalez follows a father and son as they harvest and sell ice. The pair live on a cliff-side home and dive from their balcony each day, allowing their parachutes to deliver them and their product safely to the village market below. When temperatures rise, though, the ropes that tether their house to the mountain begin to fray.

Gonzalez, who also performed and composed the accompanying soundtrack, created “Ice Merchants” in a minimal, illustrated style similar to his award-winning “Nestor” and “The Voyagers.” He shares about the film: “Something that has always fascinated me about animation cinema is the freedom it offers us to create something from scratch. Surrealistic and bizarre scenarios and realities can be used as a metaphorical tool to talk about something that is common to us in our more ‘real’ reality.”

The full film was recently released on The New Yorker’s YouTube, and you can follow the Portuguese director on Instagram to stay up-to-date with future projects.

 

An animated image of a father and son chopping ice and jumping from a cliff

A still of a father and son cliff jumping

An animated image of a boy swinging

A still of a father and son at home with a fire

A still of a son peering over the edge of an icy cliff

 

 

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Animation Art Science

‘aBiogenesis’ Reimagines the Primordial Soup Theory in a Mesmerizing Animation by Markos Kay

December 29, 2022

Kate Mothes

In an ethereal animation by London-based CGI artist Markos Kay, a mysterious world is in the process of forming. “aBiogenesis” reimagines the origin of life in a mesmerizing rendering of the lipid world hypothesis—a theory suggesting that the first self-replicating, cell-like objects were composed of a kind of fatty acid that could not dissolve in water. The hypothesis postulates that lipids may have formed into generative bilayers in the oceans. “These bilayers would have acted like tiny bubbles or bags, enclosing and protecting the chemical reactions that would eventually give rise to life,” he says.

Kay has focused on the intersection of art and science in his practice, utilizing digital tools to visualize biological or primordial phenomena. “aBiogenesis” focuses a microscopic lens on imagined protocells, vesicles, and primordial foam that twists and oscillates in various forms.

The artist has prints available for sale in his shop, and you can find more work on his website and Behance.

 

An artistic digital rendering of "primordial soup" or foamy particles that are hypothesized to be the origin of life.

All images © Markos Kay

Artistic digital renderings of "primordial soup" or foamy particles that are hypothesized to be the origin of life.

An artistic digital rendering of "primordial soup" or foamy particles that are hypothesized to be the origin of life.

Artistic digital renderings of "primordial soup" or foamy particles that are hypothesized to be the origin of life.  An artistic digital rendering of "primordial soup" or foamy particles that are hypothesized to be the origin of life.

 

 



Animation

An Animated Short Film by Martin Smatana Explores Loss Through Lighthearted Symbolism

December 27, 2022

Kate Mothes

A brisk wind takes a young kite-flyer on an unexpected voyage with his grandfather in a poignant short film by illustrator and animation director Martin Smatana. The narrative of the stop-motion animation addresses the concept of death and loss through metaphor that is accessible to children, using the kite, weather, and materials as symbolic ways to broach a difficult yet important topic. “It explores the relationship between a little boy and his grandpa and shows that death is a natural part of life, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of our journey,” Smatana explains. He continues:

They are both made out of layers, which symbolize their age. The boy has many of these layers… he has all his life before him. But grandfather, on the other hand, has already lost most of his layers, and he has only few left. As he gets older, he also gets thinner, and at the end of his life, he is as thin as a sheet of paper. One day, the wind just softly blows him away and takes him up to the sky…

Smatana and his team scoured second-hand shops in his hometown of Prague to collect textiles and other materials to build the sets, employing different patterns and color palettes to represent the four seasons. A quilt-like landscape created from numerous pieces of cloth references a patchwork blanket that the artist remembers sleeping under when he visited his own grandparents’ house.

Created for the artist’s graduation project at FAMU Film School three years ago, “The Kite” has won more than sixty international awards, was nominated for the semifinals of the student Oscars, and is included in the film library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Explore more of Smatana’s work on his website, where he also shares behind-the-scenes footage of how “The Kite” was made. Follow updates on Instagram.

 

A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a young boy and his grandfather sitting on clouds.

All images © Martin Smatana, shared with permission

An animated excerpt from "The Kite" in which a young boy and his grandfather fly up into the sky with a kite.

A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a young boy and his kite from the perspective of his grandfather holding his hands.

An animated excerpt from the short film "The Kite" portraying a young boy visiting his grandfather and being given a kite.

A still from the animated short film "The Kite" showing a patchwork countryside and road with a school bus on it.

A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a darkening sky and a young boy holding onto his grandfather who appears to be floating away.

 

 



Animation Photography

Thousands of Leaves Transition from Summer to Fall in a Hypnotic Stop-Motion Short

December 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

Bay Area-animator Brett Foxwell is drawn to the vast array of colors and textures within the natural world. His 2017 short film “WoodSwimmer” zeroed in on the unique grain of cross-cut trees, and his latest project similarly centers on organic diversity by highlighting thousands of leaves as they change from their summer to autumn hues.

In the mesmerizing stop-motion short, rapid flashes of foliage dance on the black backdrop and illuminate the unique bend of a stem, variances in veins, and the way verdant pigments drain from each specimen in inconsistent patterns. “While collecting leaves, I conceived that the leaf shape of every single plant type I could find would fit somewhere into a continuous animated sequence of leaves if that sequence were expansive enough. If I didn’t have the perfect shape, it meant I just had to collect more leaves,” he shares about the project.

The Book of Leaves” accompanies Foxwell’s larger project “Leaf Presser,” a trippier animation of the same nature, which you can find along with his other works on Vimeo. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

An animated gif of leaves in different colors from summer to autumn

A still of an autumn leaf

An animated gif of leaves in different colors from summer to autumn

 

 



Animation

A Verdant Ecosystem Emerges from a Barren Landscape in the Animated Music Video for Moomin’s ‘For Willow’

December 15, 2022

Kate Mothes

In a psychedelic, otherworldly vista, colorful flora and fauna interact in a seamless series of events in the music video for Moomin’s “For Willow.” Illustrators and animators Alex Gamsu Jenkins and Joe Taylor collaborated on the three-minute short, which opens on a forlorn, stony figure standing in a barren landscape, who begins to metamorphose with signs of vitality and greenery. Incorporating speckles onto each frame to suggest the graininess of analog film, each scene unfolds continuously from the last as the environment gradually becomes lush and teems with life.

 

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

All images © Moomin

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

A still from the music video for Moomin's "For Willow."

 

 



Animation

Ride the Emotional Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship in Siqi Song’s Series of Stop-Motion Animations

December 14, 2022

Kate Mothes

Los Angeles-based animator and director Siqi Song has a knack for capturing the nuances of relationships and social situations. Her critically acclaimed animated shorts like “SISTER” and “THE COIN” tap into family histories and personal stories from the relatable perspective of stop-motion, felted wool characters. In a new series of shorts commissioned by It’s Nice That for Mailchimp Presents, Song dives into the world of entrepreneurship in All in a Day’s Work.

Song directed six of the series’ twelve episodes, which run between two to three minutes each and feature a cast of six small business owners who find themselves on an emotional, enterprising rollercoaster. A florist’s new employee struggles with hay fever in “First Hire,” a baker working through the night resists falling asleep in “Unstoppable Rise,” and a finely-tuned Zoom setup comes crashing down during an important call in “Silicon Valley Legends.”

To make the films as internationally relatable as possible, dialogue was removed entirely. “Without language, the characters can only express their emotion in the stories through body language and facial expressions,” Song explains. For anyone who has launched a product, grappled with time management, or stepped outside their comfort zone to pursue a dream, Song’s animations demonstrate the universal ups and downs of a courageous journey.

You can watch all of the films, including an additional six episodes by creative studio BUCK, on Mailchimp Presents. Find remarkable behind-the-scenes footage on Song’s website, and discover her painstakingly crafted miniature sets, storyboards, and characters.

 

A still from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

All images © Siqi Song

An animated image from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

A still from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

An animated image from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

A still from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

An animated image from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

A still from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

An animated image from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.

A still from a stop motion animation short by Siqi Song.