Graduation Countdown: URNDR

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Exhibition Master of Animation 2014-2015

ansichtkaart MA 2015 defFrom August 27th to September 1st 2015 the Master of Animation 2014-2015 will present their work. It will be an overview of projects made throughout the year, including the graduation projects. You are more then welcome to check it all in the Chapel of AKV|St. Joost!

In the coming weeks the students will introduce themselves and their work on this blog.

Opening (in presence of students): Thursday August 27th, 15.00 – 20.00
Open:  August 28 – Sept 1, 13.00 – 17.00
(Saturday 11.00 – 16.00, closed on Sunday)
Location: Chapel, AKV St. Joost, Breda

Graduation Countdown: Canine Remorse


I’m Tori and I would like to introduce you into my graduation project Canine Remorse and give you some insight of my current research.

I studied Animation & Game in Germany and after graduation I wanted to focus more on animation, to be even more precise, on animal movement, which does not only refer to animal animation, but also to the question how anthropomorphic an animal has to be and how animal movement can enhance a human character. That’s the reason why I moved to the Netherlands where I have the ability to focus on that topic and learn more about artistic approaches to animation and storytelling.

My research is about animal movement, and which degree of animal or rather human movement is needed for an animal character to communicate a message successfully. Therefore I’m also referring to the context: Does the audience know the animal’s behaviour? How complex is the message? What does the audience expect the animal to do?

In a similar way I am also approaching my animation project Canine Remorse. It’s a story about a dog that has to resist his longing for eating the steak of his mistress. In this project I want to portray a typical situation of an owner with their pet dog. The movie will be especially appealing to people who know and love dogs, so they can recognize their own experience with dogs. Therefore I can assume that the audience knows the animal’s behaviour very well and I am free to animate the dog in a quite naturalistic approach, since the audience will be able to read a dog’s way of communication.


For the designs I worked a lot with different styles, trying to find a unique and appealing appearance. I tried to play with the characters’ designs, making the dog quite big and intimidating while he is very loyal and submissive to his mistress. The mistress on the other hand is an exaggerated version of what I think dogs see humans as: A monkey-like creature with long limbs.

The project will be CGI animation and therefore be a special technical challenge, since I’m going to do the whole work process, from designing to rendering on my own. But I’m looking forward to having created my very own animated short.

If you are interested to see more of the process you can take a look at my blog.

Studio visit Walking The Dog in Brussels

Friday the 22nd of May we visited animation production studio Walking The Dog. We were welcomed in one of their viewings to watch their previous work (such as: Les Triplets De Belleville, Kika and Bob, and Secret of Kells) and even got a sneak peek at their most recent creation Voltaire. They finished it just before we visited.

After the screening we got to see their working spaces, render farm, and insights into their working process and techniques. They explained how they work with freelancers, which come and go with different projects. At the art department it was interesting to see that they work with the LAB color format (instead of the regular CMYK); this mathematical process is more like oil painting.

Thank you Walking the Dog for your hospitality and showing us how it works behind the scenes!



Workshop by Wouter van Reek

We had the pleasure of having Wouter van Reek over for an artist talk and a workshop. Some people know him for his illustrations and animations of Keepvogel (Coppernickel in English), but currently his live animations also accompany a theater and music performance. In his presentation he talked about his inspiration and his fascination for the act of drawing. He showed us some clips of ‘di shu’, Chinese water calligraphy. The workshop afterwards made it possible to easily try out combining drawing on a Wacom with writing code. Next to the master students, also a few bachelor students from Animation and Illustration participated. A real eye opener!



Book Trailer Project

The second period was about working for actual clients from the field of animation and beyond. One of the clients was Submarine Channel. The given project was about promoting a book in a dynamic way. Submarine Channel has already worked on various book trailer projects which translates significant parts of a book into motion as you can see on their website.

Generally for a book trailer an audience can scroll through the story which is similar to moving comic. The students decided to do something different: the main idea was to promote the book with a simple and funny online game which has a direct relation to situations from the book. For example, the coffee addiction of the main character is one of the issues in the book. In the book trailer this element is shown metaphorically both to give clues from the book and to entertain the audience. When a user clicks on the coffee cup, a character appears in the coffee cup and drowns.

The book in question is called “256 Seconds” and the title gave the students another idea: People can click the images infinitely, but in the end 256 seconds is the time limit. If you want to learn more, you should read the book!

One of the best parts of the project was that is has actually been taken into production. The project at first was fictitious for students, but the book was not. So the producer luckily loved the idea and execution, and this created a chance for students to produce the project and see their idea come to life.

Below are some images and a link to the final live result: BOEK 256 BLZ
You can also visit the blog for the making of and research process: Making of Blog


Closed Window

Open Window


Character Sketches

Second assignment: Collaborate!

eyesupplyAfter the first assignment (a one minute animation for the Playgrounds Festival) it was time to join forces: the second period was all about collaboration. In a studio setting the students were asked to divide roles and work on four different assignments: a concept/treatment for an interactive book trailer (client: Submarine), a concept for a live show with visuals and interactive elements (client: Eyesupply), a short animated documentary (client: Stichting Beeldtijd) and last but not least a commercial ident for a TV station (client: Postpanic).

It was an intense period, but the results were worth it!

Take a look at the development blogs and artwork:
(blog about assignment Submarine, below visit to Postpanic, meeting at Eyesupply, styleframe of assignment Beeldtijd)


eyesupply presentationStyleframe_01

Opening of Playgrounds Festival

opening playgroundsThe first assignment for this year was to make a 1 minute animation for the Playgrounds Festival, inspired by the music video David Wilson made for the Arctic Monkeys. At the opening the animations had their premiere. Besides this the event showcased a great line up of local talent like Job, Joris and Marieke, Postpanic, Eyesupply and former student Marlyn Spaaij, who talked about working for the feature length animation ‘Trippel Trappel’.

(photos by Willeke Machiels)



Pixar Talk @ KLIK! Animation Festival, Amsterdam

At the Klik! animation Festival, which was in Amsterdam at November 7th 2014, there were very interesting talks.  One of the talks given was about Building tools for telling stories, by Michael B. Johnson, also known as Dr. Wave.

He works at Pixar, which merged with Disney in 2006. Pixar is a director driven studio where they inspire the team with obstructive criticism.

It takes 4 years to build a movie. The whole process of story, art and editorial takes 3 years already. The most important elements are:

  1. Designing rich worlds
  2. Creating engaging characters
  3. Tell compelling stories

Johnson gave us more insight about the process of their movies.

He talked about story and editorial. The storyboard artists have to work close together with the editors. Editing movies within animation happens from the start till the end of the movie. Together they take care of the story reels, the moving storyboards including voice acting and dialogue. If a story reel doesn’t work out, the story doesn’t work and t has to be changed. Story reels are made to early find the story’s problems.

“Pain is temporary, ‘Suck’ is forever.”, Jason Dreamer

Color scripts are made to test out the color pallet. This must act on the audience and is sometimes inspired by other live action movies.

After that, animation is done by the animators, supervised by the animator supervisor. At the department of Simulations & effects they animate other things besides characters, like fur, snow and water. After that, the lighting department takes over.

Johnson as a tool maker at pixar writes new software to make life for the employees more easily. When there is a problem he fixes it. they want to make the users visibly better at their jobs. Next to that, they want to be a hero, show up and save the day. The have to be world class at something and to become that work with people who are better at their job than themselves.

Based on notes by Samantha (Nov 7th)

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Graduation Countdown: Tess Martin

Poster for The Lost Mariner designed by Giacomo Boffo

Poster for The Lost Mariner designed by Giacomo Boffo

Hello there!
My name is Tess Martin and I’m here to introduce myself and give you a sneak peek into my graduation project, The Lost Mariner.

I stumbled onto animation during my Fine Art Bachelors at the University of Brighton in the UK. I fell in love and never looked back, and kept making independent short films for about five years after moving to the great city of Seattle, USA.

I decided to return to Europe for my Masters and have had a great time deepening my digital skills (I pretty much made exclusively stop-motion or frame by frame films before this) and expanding my freelance side. For my graduation film, however, I decided to go back to my true love, hand made films.

The Lost Mariner is based on an Oliver Sacks case study that you can find in his excellent book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and is about patient Jimmie G, who suffers from a rare memory disorder. I have always been interested in the mind, and the patients that Dr. Sacks describes are great examples of how our own sanity is balanced on a knife’s edge. Jimmie G’s memory problems were, I felt, a good entry into this arena.

When embarking on a project I think very hard about the technique to use to tell the story. In this case I decided to use the concept of photographs, so crucial in how we retain and symbolize memories, as the basis of the storytelling, resulting in what I would call a ‘photo cutout’ technique.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

I had used cut-outs before, in fact, almost exclusively the first few years of filmmaking (see A Moment’s Reverie and Plain Face). But I had never used cut-outs quite in this way. Because Jimmie’s condition gives him a unique view on reality I felt it was important to use photos of real actors instead of designed characters. Photos of these actors were then printed and re-animated in a flat photo cut-out universe. The contrast between the real actors’ faces and movements and the flat universe in which they live provides a nice analogy to what it might be like to see the world through Jimmie’s eyes. It’s almost real, but not real.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

It was a really fun way to make a film! Even though, yes, it involved a lot of scissors work. See below the trailer and the Making Of video which might give you a better idea of how the film was made.

I am also super happy to have gotten the chance to work with these talented actors, as well as Thijs van Gasteren (cameraman for the live action shoot), Jason Staczek (super talented composer I can’t believe I get to work with), and Production House Media (excellent sound design). Also I want to thank Warren Etheredge, Brad Hutchinson and also Lindy Boustedt for their invaluable feedback, and Giacomo Boffo for lending his design talents to the poster.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

At the exhibition you will be able to see the actual piles of cut-outs used in the film, as well as the two other films I made during my Master: a one minute animation addressing the problem of racism and gun violence in America called One Night in Florida, and a memory-map project called Breda on My Mind where participants were asked to draw a giant map of Breda collaboratively, from memory.

I hope to see you at the August 28th opening!  More information can be found on the St Joost website, and the Facebook event.

The Lost Mariner – Trailer from Tess Martin on Vimeo.

The Lost Mariner – Making Of from Tess Martin on Vimeo.