I was delighted to discover the last Disney short film, Paperman, which was released to the public a few days ago. Almost completely in black and white, with a hint of red, this animation a small gem of directing.
If I may try myself at a analyzing the image, notice how the light is used to support the story.
The guy is lit according to his mood: a strong but soft rim light when he is happy, a dim and dull ambient light at work, a strong and harsh side light when the moment is intense. Notice for example how his face has soft shadows at the office, but strong shadows right before he runs. Notice too how the paper planes pull him from the shadow back into the light.
The woman is lit depending on how unreachable she gets: the more difficult she is to reach, the less lit she is. As she gets in her train, she is surrounded by shadow. Similarly, when she is seen from the window, the whole building is bright, drawing attention to her, but the room is still dark as she is unreachable. As the paper planes get closer, she gets more and more light. When she passes the door, she gets back in the shadow.
Of course when they reach each other and finally meet, they both are in the light.
After mentioning it during lunch, I realized I never posted this here: Embrace Life is the name of a brilliant short, written and directed by director Daniel Cox and produced by Sarah Alexander, for a British safety campaign back in 2010. Far from the usual shocking images, it chooses to convey its message through a metaphor and yet manages to deeply move the audience. The film uses slow motion, which was made possible by shooting with a Phantom HD camera.
“I wanted to create a visual metaphor addressing how a single decision in a person’s day can greatly influence both their own and their loved ones’ lives. Choosing to film the story inside the family living room represents the feelings many people equate with their own car, in that it represents a level of safety and protection from the ‘outer’ world. So to create the emotion of this dramatic moment, I wanted to tell the story using slow motion to allow the audience the time to be drawn into the film’s world and to let them connect with and project their own feelings onto the scenario playing out before them. I wanted to give the audience the time to breathe, to absorb our message and using slow motion was the right technique to allow this to happen.” (Daniel Cox)
Unfortunately I have never found a HD version of it.
Skateboard, urban exploration and light: this combination makes a surprisingly warm atmosphere. There is no soundtrack in this short by Juan Rayos, the only music is the sound of the skater, Kilian Martin, performing in this big abandoned building.
The natural light of the Sun through the windows, the dust getting up in the air as the skate hits the wooden floor, the emptiness of the place, all build a very warm and quiet mood, while on the opposite the raw editing conveys all the tension due to the difficulty to achieve the tricks.
A lot of care is shown in the composition and the use of light. Most shots are flawless in that regard.
The following is a short by James W. Griffiths. I completely forgot to mention it here; fortunately I remembered it today and felt like watching it again.
While it is simple, the direction and care for details are outstanding. The images were shot entirely using a Nokia N8 mobile phone, which sure puts in perspective the kind of stuff one can do with just such a device.
Paths of Hate is one of the many animations that were shown at the Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH 2011, and among the ones that drew most attention (it was awarded the Jury Award). Directed by Damian Nenow, the film explores in a comic style how deep hatred can go. Unfortunately I haven’t found the long version on Internet, only the following trailer. If you have the opportunity to see the full version, do not miss it.