puppets

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Animation

Three Sisters Face an Impending Climate Disaster in an Existential Stop-Motion Short

October 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

What begins with a calm morning filled with stunningly bright sunlight quickly morphs into a short film of existential crises and the life-altering implications of climate disasters. Directed by Frédéric Even and Louise Mercadier with production by Papy3D and JPL Films, “Sororal” is a profound stop-motion animation that follows three sisters as they react to warnings about the sea submerging the land. The trio has incredibly varied and relatable responses, with Madeleine instantly consumed by panic, Emilie forming a mystical bond to the water, and Anna approaching the situation with extreme apathy.

“Sororal” presents the siblings’ reactions to the impending flood as physical manifestations: Because Madeleine and Anna resist accepting the news, their bodies become hard and brittle and form crusty, salt-laden scabs (these scenes are slightly graphic and use nude figures). Emilie, on the other hand, remains flexible and unscathed.

 

In a conversation with the animation publication Skwigly, Even and Mercadier share that they first digitally rendered the puppets before 3D printing them in resin. The sisters’ faces are inspired by French Gothic and Asian art forms of the 12th Century, and their bodies leave the black annealed wire armature visible, a decision the filmmakers explain:

We didn’t want to hide that they were puppets, to be realistic and give them the appearance of flesh and blood characters. We found that seeing the mouth replacement lines and the joints in their hands help make them fragile and touching and although the distance is established with a being of flesh and bone it creates more empathy than with more realistic representation. We feel that they can break. We feel the precariousness of their construction. They appear all the more disarmed in the face of the immense wave which threatens them.

“Sororal” features dialogue entirely in French, so be sure to click the CC button to turn on English captions. The animation follows Even and Mercadier’s first project titled “Metamorphosis,” a 2015 retelling of Kafka’s short story, and they’re now working on a film about a foolish angel lost in space and time. (via Short of the Week)

 

 

 

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Animation

An Anxious Bird Braves His Fear of Flying in a Charming Animated Short

April 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

Dougal is a nervous little bird with an overwhelming dread for an activity he’s supposed to instinctively enjoy: he’s afraid to fly. A charming short film written and directed by Conor Finnegan follows Dougal as he hunkers down in the north for the winter. Throughout his journey, the anxious creature faces a multitude of obstacles, from a blustery trudge through a snowstorm to the threat of a thieving squirrel, before finally deciding to join his friends down south.

Seamlessly combining live-action puppetry and stop-motion techniques, “Fear of Flying” is a collaborative project—Finnegan details the entire process in an interview with Short of the Week—that involved Fallover Bros and Renate Henschke crafting the flock of wide-eyed avians and a larger team of 14 or 15 creatives aiding in production.

Watch more of Finnegan’s light-hearted animations, which include one detailing an unusual friendship between Rock, Paper, and Scissors and another about a dutiful character named Fluffy McCloud, on his agency’s site.

 

 

 



Art

Little Amal: An Enormous Puppet Is Traveling 8,000km to Shine Light on the Refugee Crisis

October 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Photograph by Bevan Roos. All images shared with permission

To draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis, an oversized puppet will traverse 8,000 kilometers on a route starting at the Turkey-Syria border. From April to July 2021, “Little Amal” will travel across Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and France on a search “to find her mother. To get back to school. To start a new life.” The international journey will end in the United Kingdom, with a celebration at Manchester International Festival. Good Chance Theatre, a London-based organization dedicated to humanitarian and social justice efforts, is helming the public project “embodying the urgent message, ‘Don’t forget about us.'”

The 3.5-meter tall character, which was created by Handspring Puppet Company, will stop in 70 cities across Europe to meet with locals and participate in celebrations and education programs. “At this time of unprecedented global change, The Walk is an artistic response: a cultural odyssey transcending borders, politics, and language to tell a new story of shared humanity – and to ensure the world doesn’t forget the millions of displaced children, each with their own story,” Good Chance writes in a statement.

Check out the official map of Amal’s international journey and planned events on the project’s site, and follow along with updates on her progress on Instagram and YouTube. (via It’s Nice That)

 

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Nick Wall

 

 



Animation

Kukuschka: An Ambitious Bird Passionately Follows the Sun in a Windy Stop-Motion Short by Dina Velikovskaya

April 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

For Kukuschka, motherhood is a hindrance. In a stop-motion film bearing her name, the avian character dreams of reaching the sun. She travels the beige dunes each day and braves the wind gusts that blow her gauzy clothing. When her similarly dressed baby breaks out of its shell, she tries to continue on her journey to follow the glowing orb, before slowing to a lope to find care for her child.

Created by Russian animator and director Dina Velikovskaya, the stop-motion film is an effort to complicate traditional notions of parenthood. Velikovskaya told Short of the Week that “Kukuschka” represents “women who ha(ve) dreams and how motherhood can be an obstacle to them.” Throughout the emotional production, the mother-baby duo struggle to coexist in their sand-filled world.

Since it was released in 2016, “Kukuschka” has garnered worldwide attention, winning Best Animated Comedy from the EACG Animation Festival in San Francisco and Best Director at the New Horizon Film Festival and National Animation Premium “IKARUS.” For more Kukuschka and the other avian puppets, check out the animator’s Instagram, where the characters periodically visit coffee shops and parks.

 

 



Design Science

Tiny Organisms Escape Life Under a Microscope in Oversized Puppets by Judith Hope

January 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

A bacteriophage puppet. All images © Judith Hope

The familiar faces of friendly puppets like Kermit and Elmo are missing from Judith Hope’s enlarged microbe creations that magnify the world’s tiniest organisms. A brown bacteriophage, commonly known as a virus, features six moveable legs powered by a hand-operated device, while a pink tardigrade stands upright and sways side-to-side. Sometimes referred to as a “water bear,” the tardigrade imitates a resilient animal who can survive in extreme conditions and is usually only .02 inches long when fully grown. The models originally were created for the Tatwood Puppets production of Microbodyssey, a visual experience utilizing puppetry and shadow theater to explore life under the microscope. You can watch a trailer for the microbe-based show on Vimeo, and see more of Hope’s handheld crafts on Instagram.

Tardigrade and bacteriophage puppets

A bacteria puppet with removable DNA

Common cold puppet

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Art Design

An Enormous Smoke-Spewing Dragon Roves the Streets of Calais, France

November 19, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

La Machine, the group of inventors, designers, artists, and builders responsible for 46 foot-tall minotaurs and massive tarantulas roving the streets of Europe, has most recently unleashed the Dragon of Calais. The moveable beast, complete with articulated limbs and a smoke-spewing snout, was paraded around Calais for 3 days at the beginning of November. It has now been installed as a stationary sculpture, on which visitors can climb up and walk around. Follow the latest projects from La Machine on Instagram. (via Laughing Squid)

 

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