Flip Festival (Day 2)

Open Shorts 2
The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl (Mike Roush)
This mix of more traditional animation along with real-life backgrounds and a documentary-style voice over was original and like nothing I'd really seen before, yet reminded me of all the Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch when I was younger. Quite a simple story with a twist at the end for a laugh, but to me the actual animal like movement of the owl scampering about and flapping its wings and behaving in a very natural way is what I liked. You could tell the movement of these kinds of birds had been studied well and used to great effect in this piece. The combination of this realistic movement, but cunning cartoon intelligence made for a wonderful character and story, and great fun to watch.

Touché (Trevor Hardy)
A comical and funny stop-motion animation about a cat teasing a dog in a car who then gets his comeuppance. This one made me laugh out loud, with wonderful characters and hilarious sudden punchline that caught me off-guard. I think what can be learned from this is that a lovely tactile design and feel to the animation, along with a lighthearted comical twist can be a really great combination for a funny short. Everyone likes to see a bully get their just desserts.

Post! (Christian Asmussen)
This interwoven tapestry of stories in a small town suspended above a industrial metropolis is beautifully told and animated. It showed me that character designs can be very simple and yet still be expressive when animated well. Also, that a complicated collection of small stories can be shown in a relatively short space of time with the right visual clues and planning. A simple but beautifully told account of a small community's daily life and interactions with each other.

The Brothers McLeod: A Personal View
The Brothers McLeod shared some of their taste in animation as to what had inspired them. Although some of the pieces were not to my tastes and a little too troubling or bleak (Dog and Puppet Boy), many of them were inspirational and a great insight as to the direction that they are heading in animation, and real eye openers for myself. These are three of the animations they showed that really caught my attention and I felt have inspired me in one way or another since:

Feed The Kitty (Chuck Jones)
From one of the undisputed masters of animation, this short tugs on the heartstrings and has had itself pariodied in modern movies such as Monsters Inc from Pixar. The character designs are classic and wonderful to watch, bringing back all my childhood memories of waiting for all the other "rubbish" cartoons to end so that I could watch some Warner Bros and other ones similar to this! The animation is beautiful and fluid and the expressions and gestural forms of the characters are perfect but not overdone.
Cartoons like this are exactly the reason I wanted to get into animation, and I guess I'm a bit of a sucker for the classics (for a good reason - nothing seems to have come close since).

Lapsus (Juan Pablo Zaramella)
This simple but fun animation brought some relatively plain (but good) design to life with an expressive character and unique style. However, I feel the sound wasn't really needed in it and it would have been still a good piece in silence.

A Town Called Panic, 'The Card Thieves' (Vincent Patar and Stephane Aubier)
This fun and irreverent story is full of lighthearted humor and very fast-paced and always keeps you guessing as to what happens next. The crude stop motion style and the comical voices worked well together and was getting laughs from all of the audience. Everything was kept colorful and bright throughout and there was never a dull moment and I think its a shining example of originality in both humour and design in the animation world.

Studio Spotlight: ArthurCox

Sarah Cox, the co-founder of ArthurCox Studios was available for questions and advice in this next forum, while being interviewed by one of the brothers McLeod.
Here are a few of the points raised and I realised from observing their discussions:
  •  Style over subject matter? - No, the two are interlinked throughout the entirety of the project.
  • The importance of keeping a sketchbook about at all times to note down ideas and make sure you never forget a good idea.
  • That animation is a series of skills combined, and some people are naturally better at some areas than others, and therefore its right to use your strengths as best you can.
  • Sarah had spent some time teaching, and I feel this could be a similar pathway for myself in the future. I think learning animation helps with this greatly as it is a large skill-set and enables you to deal with a wide range of opinions, styles and techniques.
  • Animation can be used to explore less glamorous subjects and ideas, and powerfully by using emotion to express them, and this in turn can get difficult subjects across to a multitude of otherwise taxing audiences.
The Surprise Demise of Francis Cooper's Mother was a short produced by ArthurCox and stood out to me, and really made me pay attention.
The intriguing mixed up plots and nature of the stories, along with each ones message of cherishing life and moving past regret was something that struck a chord with me as I have always felt animation has the power to reach and help people, and should be a way of showing people other outlooks on life they may not have considered.

Open Shorts 3

The third set of open shorts of the festival was a little bit of a disappointment as none really stuck out for me, with them being too experimental and meaningless in my eyes, or just too depressing and macabre.
While I may have found out what kinds of animation and work I wasn't so keen on, I also found a love of vibrant, unique and meaningful animation, and many fresh new ideas and inspirations to take away with me, as well as a much deeper understanding for the more commercial world of animation, thanks to the professionals in the forums and talks, and what I hope to achieve from my degree.

I'll definitely be going again next year.

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