Thursday, 18 March 2010

Yuri Norstein

Yesterday I was frantically trying to come up with ideas and a treatment for a new animation job I've just received, and I went off on some over-ambitious plan to make the film using a combination of Flash, Photoshop and After Effects. I wanted it to look a bit hand-made, like traditional paper cut-out animation, or the silhouette animation of the incredible Lotte Reiniger (here's Hansel and Gretel). I also referenced the sweet end credits of the Lemony Snicket film, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. I've not seen the film itself, but the credits are great fun.

So I was scrabbling around for examples to send to the client, and remembered one of my very favourite animators, Yuri Norstein. He worked using paper cut-outs under a traditional rostrum camera, moving each element with painstaking attention to detail, creating the film frame by frame. I admire such dedication and patience since I lack so much of it myself! His chef d'oeuvre, his masterpiece, will always be the gorgeous and melancholy 'Tale of Tales' (watch part 1 here), but a lot of people find it weird, over-long and a bit tedious despite its luminous beauty. When you consider that he created everything using bits of film and paper (as well as some clever lighting - that fire in the early scenes was created from reflections of a real fire!), rather than fancy computer effects, it is truly breathtaking. His skill and vision still make me dizzy with wonder and envy.

One of his other, much shorter and funnier films is 'The Hedgehog in the Fog'. So if you're feeling like something a bit lighter, this is the one for you. It is a delight.

Of course I'm not about to make something as beautiful as any of the things I've shown you, nor am I intending for my film to be close in style to them. I just thought you might like to look. Plus I'm quite convinced that the client will hate what I've done and ask for something else :-)

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