Animation Station

​Review of "Reel Animation" at NFFTY by Vida Behar

Saturday's “Reel Animation” series of films showcased a variety of creative artistic techniques, some of them effective and others regrettably not.

Candy Floss by Linnea Ritland is one of the good ones. It is a music video recalling a summer romance. The music is a cute, little ukulele ballad, and the animation provides artwork for the lyrics. The combination of live action, hand-drawn pink figures, and 2D computer-assisted animation creates a unique narrative. The live action segments give the music video a retrospective point of view, while the pink color of the hand drawn characters gave the memory a light-hearted and fun mood, as well as tying into the color of candy floss.

Count Crankepanse and the Mysterious Cube by Melanie Gillam is silent movie-esque, complete with grainy black and white film, piano music, and retro typography. As the title would suggest, the Count encounters a mysterious cube that confuses his monochromatic sphere of existence. The 3D animation wasn’t particularly compelling, as it didn’t keep with the theme well. Perhaps if the 3D animation had been limited to the cube, the film would have been more effective. Moreover, the entire premise felt just a tad predictable.

Fade by Josh Lopata uses claymation puppet animation to tell a story about a boy whose imagination serves as a means of dealing with his father’s impending death. Fade is mega-surreal, and the plot is confusing. Despite this, it has innovative camera angle techniques, like the silhouetted, intricate, miniature playground against an orange-red sky. The color scheme is very organic and reminds one of the month of August. Death is manifested as a mass of all-consuming black crumpled paper, which was excellent. The clay puppet characters were a tad creepy but overall Fade was quite original.

Similarly surrealistic, Nap by Mark Wincek is an incredible short about a man falling asleep and his consciousness taking a new form as he crosses into his dreams. Initially, while he is awake, the animation is simply black with scribbled white shading — no value gradient, just the two colors. However, after falling asleep, the man is launched into a gaudy, polychromatic new plane of existence. Nap was really about the monotony of reality compared to the alternate world of fantasy. The music was radical, and on the whole Nap was fabulous.

Lumin, by Wincek as well, was also incredible. Like Nap the score is solid; its electronic-y music is tasteful. It’s about a lone hunter in a world without a sun using light to catch his prey. The animation was composed of inverted pencil drawing, and this choice underlined the theme of playing with the concept of light and shadow that was so prevalent in this short. Wincek is obviously super talented.

One of the not so superb shorts in "Reel Animation," Anything in the World by Joe Carter is a 3D computer animated film about "Bobby" (wow, original), who is approached by a mysterious figure who promises him anything in the world. Complications ensue. The color scheme of this film is primarily a violent orange shade that made me want to tear my eyes out. The storyline seems to be a parable, and the one redeeming quality is that it is occasionally funny.

Despite the garish orange stain upon the beauty of the "Reel Animation" series, as a whole, its films are quite original and beautiful, if not a bit amateurish at times.

April 24 - 27

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