April 6, 2017
Media Frontier is currently tasked with creating an original, interactive, animated video for one of our clients. In preparation for this project I spent some time researching character references and animation styles. This research phase helps me to visualise the stylistic direction I should take the project in, and to identify the visual storytelling techniques that will most successfully achieve the client’s goals – and it’s fun!
There is unending inspiration to be found in the works of so many talented animators and storytellers. I discovered many really memorable videos in my research and it got me to thinking…
What makes a really good short animation?
My simple conclusion: a smart combination of style, feels, music, and suspense.
By Dublin-based animation studio and maps and plans.
A lost soul stumbles drunken through the city. In a park, Death finds him and shows him many things.
The positive spin of death, the melancholic yet happy music, and the distinct atmosphere throughout the animation are what, I believe, make it so special. The illustration style is simple but well executed and the movement plays with a loose and large sense of size, depth and evolution. There is a lovely gentleness to this animation, in part created by the transparency of some of the decors and the use of texture on simple shapes and colours.
By Joël Corcia, Bung Nguyen, Thomas Reteuna, Laurent Rossi, and Bernard Som – students at Gobelins in Paris.
One man, always on the move, has an encounter that puts into question everything he knows.
In this animation we find a smartly executed scenario that leaves the watcher wanting more, wanting this to be the teaser to a feature-length movie. It’s a beautifully textured and coloured animation about a man whose house moves every day to a new location of its own choosing. The colours are strong and beautifully manipulated, at times giving the animation a beautiful painterly, almost dreamlike aesthetic.
A simple understanding of this story could be: home is where the heart is.
A pickpocket scours the subway at the command of his inner demons, but when a chance encounter with fate brings a long-lost love back into his life, he must defy the voices in his head and choose a righteous path.
In this short film we’re taken through a rollercoaster ride of emotions as we’re zoomed through flashbacks, hallucinations, and powerful visuals. It is a brilliant, fast-paced story about dealing with life, love, and mental disorders. The drawings and animation are fluid and expressive with a style similar to Gorillaz. And the soundtrack is excellent. This animation aims directly at your emotional core, showing the viewer the humanity, vulnerability, and strength of its main character while laying bare the tribulations of urban life and mental illness.
By Alice Bissonnet, Aloyse Desoubries Binet, Sandrine Han Jin Kunag, Juliette Laurent, and Sophie Markatatos – students at Gobelins.
A young woman is followed by a crocodile who represents her shyness. As he makes her life a living hell, she tries by every means to get rid of him.
The animation style here is similar to the classic “Disney” style of drawing. There is a lot of play with light and shadows and these details give extra depth to both the animation and the story.
Ever so rarely Youtube comments are sort of worth it: “I am just wondering who took the time to record the crocodile noises. Like who literally gurgled in front of a microphone for 5 minutes?”
By Fabien Weibel, Manuel Alligné, Sandrine Wurster, and Victor Debatisse during their studies at Bellecour Ecole in Lyon.
A nice little reminder to look up once in a while and not to let time and habits control us.
In this piece the style is more 3D and “Pixar-like”. Thus, the character has less fluidity than some of the other animations showcased in this article that emphasise brush strokes and hand drawn qualities. But the style is well chosen for the storyline and helps to mirror the roboticness of the clocks in the character and setting.
A short 2-d animated film by Ryan Woodward.
I’m adding this one to the list for the sheer beauty of the lines and the flow of the animation. Whether you like the song or not you have to admire how precise every movement is. Each movement is a journey, sweeping us across the frame. The technique displays an astoundingly acute talent for observation.
If you haven’t already seen it I don’t want to spoil anything, you should just watch it.
Header image credit: still from One day by Joël Corcia, Bung Nguyen, Thomas Reteuna, Laurent Rossi, and Bernard Som.