stop motion

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Animation

The Wolf House: A Horror Film Plunges into the Disturbing Mind of a Child through a Blend of Stop-Motion Animation and Murals

January 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León descend into the psychologically disturbing world of a child escaped from religious fanatics in their feature-length film The Wolf HouseLayered with audio of unsettling voices and the quiet mutterings of a young girl, the grotesque animation seamlessly blends horror and documentary as it recounts some of the tragedies of the Colonia Dignidad, the post-World War II colony that was established by Germans and Chileans under the dictatorial rule of General Augusto Pinochet. Founded in 1961, the isolated area was infamous for torture, internment, and murder, and The Wolf House showcases its impact on a child who takes refuge in a strange house.

Fans of filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and artist BLU will recognize some of the methods used in Cociña and León’s work, including classic stop-motion techniques and painting directly on the walls of the set. Characters shift constantly, whether between two and three dimensions as they morph from murals into sculptural creatures or as they contort their bodies from life-sized forms to massive heads and from human to animal.

Cociña and León, who are from Chile originally, have been collaborating since 2007 and lead the Santiago-based production company Diluvio. You can stream The Wolf House on ScreeningRoom, and see more of the duo’s genre-bending work on their site and Vimeo.

 

 

 



Animation

Freeze Frame: A Meditative Stop-Motion Short Explores Preservation and Decay Through a Tedious Ice Harvest

December 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Brussels-based director Soetkin Verstegen bills her methodical and nostalgic animation “Freeze Frame” as a “miniature cinema inside an ice cube.” Produced in a grainy, vintage style, the black-and-white short loosely follows workers as they harvest and attempt to preserve the frozen blocks. Amidst scenes of the monotonous, assembly-line efforts are insects, frogs, and various creatures swimming across the frames and eventually, crystallizing into skeletal ice sculptures.

In a conversation with Short of the Week, Verstegen spoke to the difficulty of using such a transient material, calling it “the most absurd technique since the invention of the moving image.” The tedious nature of stop-motion further matches the repetitive movements of the film’s subjects, forming “a playful puzzle with formal ideas around early cinema, decay, and preservation.”

You can find more of Verstegen’s short films that experiment with animation techniques on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Animation Food

THE COIN: A Moving Stop-Motion Short Reveals the Power of a Family's Cooking Traditions

December 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

Siqi Song reminds us that the simple traditions of home stick with us no matter how far we travel. The Los Angeles-based director and writer, who created the highly regarded animation “SISTER” about China’s one-child policy, released a new stop-motion short about a girl who struggles to hold on to the remnants of a prized holiday ritual.

THE COIN” opens with a felt character hand-making dumplings to celebrate the Chinese New Year. A silver dollar is hidden inside one of the pork-filled pockets, and according to tradition, “whoever eats the dumpling with the coin would have a blessed year ahead.” The fiber-based animation then follows the little girl as she grows up and leaves home for Los Angeles, where she loses her cherished coin collection and desperately searches for a new one.

Song shares behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram, in addition to making-of videos and full animations on Vimeo. “THE COIN” also has a dedicated account that shares updates on the short film’s awards.

 

 

 



Animation

Nobody Is Normal: A New Animation Reveals What Lies Just Beneath the Surface of Being a Kid

November 11, 2020

Christopher Jobson

However weird you feel inside, you’re not alone. That’s the literal message of this delightful animated short created for the UK children’s charity Childline — a 24-hour hotline that helps kids navigate bullying, abuse, sex education, and pretty much any other stressor you can imagine. Directed by Catherine Prowse (previously), the film imagines the sometimes unbearable anxiety of growing up and the ultimately futile attempt to bottle it all up. Prowse also shares a fun making-of clip. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)

 

Animation still

Animation still

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

 

 



Animation Dance

A Sparkling Figure Leaves a Trail of Dance Moves in New Stop-Motion Animation by Fernando Livschitz

July 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

A mesmerizing new project by Fernando Livschitz (previously), of Black Sheep Films, captures a gold figure dancing down a well-light runway in what appears to be a digital animation. As he twists and moves his body, the dancer is stretched out, leaving behind a glimmering streak of previous positions. “Lost in motions,” though, is entirely analog, and the latter half of the video chronicles the production process: Livschitz photographs himself dancing, before transferring each individual position to a wood cutout. After painting each figure and the surrounding scene, he assembles the pieces in order and manually positions them as he records.

Explore a larger collection of Livschitz’s animated projects on Instagram and Vimeo. You also might enjoy this music video featuring layered papercraft.

 

 

 



Animation

Tokri: A Lavish Stop-Motion Short Explores the Tender Relationship Between a Father and Daughter

July 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

Taking eight years to complete, a new stop-motion short by Suresh Eriyat and his production company Studio Eeksaurus tells a heartrending story about family, mistakes, and forgiveness. “Tokri” features a young girl’s attempts to remedy breaking a precious heirloom by weaving and selling baskets to passersby. Chronicling her travails, the claymation winds through the busy streets of Mumbai, featuring an impressively large band of characters.

Part class commentary, “Tokri” was inspired by Eriyat’s own experience in the Indian city, after he dismissed a child who approached him while stopped at a traffic light. “As he drove off, he was hit with guilt, wondering what circumstance made the little girl sell baskets, and what if his brashness had done little but drag her situation for longer,” a statement from the studio says.

A behind-the-scenes video chronicling the creation process reveals a massive set replete with constructed shops and buses, cars, and other vehicles lining the streets. It shows animators constantly moving the dozens of clay characters who walk down the sidewalk and ride on public transit. “For the details of the ambiance, we photographed various little shops on the streets for references, as well as interiors of slum houses,” the studio said. “We tried to get every detail right, from the props inside the house to the model and make of the automobiles on the road.” The result is a lively, crowded cityscape with incredibly particular elements, like the old family photograph, patterned textiles stacked in the home, and the stray animals and refuse occupying alleyways. Expansive shots capture the magnitude of the miniature scenes.

Studio Eeksaurus is headed by both Suresh and Nilima Eriyat, the company’s executive producer. The prolific animator has created hundreds of films that have garnered him an Annecy Cristal, in addition to recognition from Clios and Cannes Lions. To dive further into the making of “Tokri,” multiple videos showing the pre-production, music, and sound processes are available on Vimeo. Find more of Eriyat and the studio’s award-winning work on Instagram. (via Short of the Week)