The Short of It – Reanimation: an appreciation of the 2nd dimension

Leigh Miller is a writer, filmmaker and short film enthusiast. His new column, THE SHORT OF IT, will showcase the best of science fiction & fantasy short films; locally and to the far reaches of the cosmos. Take probably the best school in animation, Paris’s Gobelins L'École de L'Image, and the minds of students who are partial to the world of science fiction and you get an amazing blend of story telling, wonderful visuals and strange happenings. You also get Eclipse by Theo Guignard, Noé Lecombre and Hugo Moreno

What the full extent and meaning behind Eclipse is anyone’s guess – the creators themselves mightn’t even know. The influence of 2001: A Space Odyssey is evident throughout, and like Kubrick said, we are probably encouraged to explore and find our own explanations… if we desire to find them at all.

When it comes to actual celestial location of our story, there’s nothing that suggests the planet they’re on isn’t in fact Earth. It has a Moon and a sun and the terrain could be any canyon carved desert on our blue-green planet. However, in the light show at the end there are only 7 planets orbiting the ‘star’, which may suggest another system. Since this animation was made long before the discovery of the only known 7 planet system (Kepler-90), I’m starting to become suspicious of a Kubrick style moon landing cover up.

Ambiguity aside, Eclipse has a unique style, which draws the audience into this fantastically created world. I especially love the topology style artwork across the terrain – the Jean Giraud (Moebius) inspiration is evident but not over powering.

Now, let’s bring some good old romance in the stars into the picture. I hereby present Crater Face, from Skyler Page.

A poignant, hilarious and heart tugging tribute to love at first sight on a lunar surface. It’s nearly impossible for a short film to bring tears to the eyes; the mere fact that they’re so short makes it difficult for an audience to connect on a real emotional level, but, with a soundtrack that manipulates the heart, Crater Face gets me every time.

Crater Face is a fantastic example of story structure. Within the first 10 seconds we have the setup and the problem: boy and girl, far apart, can’t move closer. Enter an eccentric astronaut to save the day.

For my money, this is a near perfect short film. It challenges any live action in both its level of entertainment and emotional impact.

It would be easy to critique Page’s artistic style as being simplistic and undeveloped (especially compared to something like Eclipse) but that’s what works in it’s favor. Any more ‘production value’ put into the film and it wouldn’t be the same.

The short form is such a good playground for 2D Animation artists to explore not just their craft of animation but delve into storytelling and experimentation without restrictions. Which is why, I imagine, some of the most interesting and intriguing works are coming from students – artists crafting for passion instead of coin.

I now leave you with Umbra by Malcolm Sutherland. A short film which won Vimeo’s animation award in 2010. It’s probably helped by Alison Melville’s flute music, but the story feels like a native American tale you would listen to around a camp fire with some peyote. Umbra interestingly and not surprising means the ‘innermost and darkest part of a shadow’, so take from that what you will and enjoy this strange tale into a queer and mythical world.

Umbra (HD – 2010) from Malcolm Sutherland on Vimeo.

You can follow Leigh @_frankyfingers: or via his webpage:

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