Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Oerd van Cuijlenborg "An Abstract Day’ (2009)

An Abstract Day might well be misinterpreted by the family should they just overhear the sexually explicit soundtrack. Dutch animator Oerd van Cuijlenborg's film is described as semi-abstract which, sadly, is a turn-off for some but this is a class piece and sustains interest for its entire five minutes. It follows a day in the life of a couple from awakening to the sound of traffic and kites shrieking past their apartment to the heat of a city, escape to the countryside, thunder storm and evening peace. The director's ability to capture the various moods and locations with shape, colour and the most delicate of brush strokes is remarkable: the rural and urban scenes, the heat and the passion. In fact the screenshot is rather less abstract than the general film but, artist that I am, I felt it suited the design of my blog more than naked flesh with pulses of light and life bouncing about. Unlike some critics, I liked the soundtrack. And I should note that I've entered the summer vacation period where exotic lands beckon so the posts will be sparse.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

"Mac 'n' Cheese" Tom Hankins, Gijs van Kooten, Guido Puijk & Roy Nieterau (2011)

Tom Hankins, Gijs van Kooten, Guido Puijk and Roy Nieterau from Utrecht School of Arts made Mac 'n' Cheese 
in five months and it is considerably tastier than its namesake. Big guy chases long lean guy across the country causing havoc to traffic and citizens everywhere. The traditional chase movie much loved of Hollywood is in the style of those French graduation films I feature here frequently. It is well made, inventive and exciting. In fact so frantic is the chase that the ugly guy has to have a time out to take drugs, two whole armfuls. This allows him the impetus to continue his pursuit. Fun.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Christobal De Oliveira "Aalterate" (Float 2011)

Do give time for this artful nine minute film, Aalterate, to develop for it is very powerful with astonishing imagery. A young woman is in a coma, her body clinging on to life, yet her spirit ready to leave. From her body expanding fibres of matter stretch out, as a vine might, growing increasingly dominant, complex, compelling.  We begin to understand that a car accident caused her injuries. The various imagery has resonance: pulses of light from the sun, eclipses, and the automobile plunged into water, destroyed by fire. Most of all, the labyrinthine circuits of the brain.  Christobal De Oliveira's first film is due to be aired at Annecy next month. Maxime Drouillard has created a soundtrack that underscores the visual intensity to perfection. Nicolas Schmerkin produced the Dutch/ French piece. His Paris based company Autour de Minuit was responsible for Logorama the deserved Oscar winner in 2010.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Paul Driessen "The Water People" (1992)

The little Dutch boy sticks his finger into the dyke to let the water in. The Water People will not be to all tastes. For starters they may not understand it and, in truth, it's not meant to add up, except in the idiosyncratic world that Dutch animator, Paul Driessen, conjures up, with its very own normality. Thus the family sit down to lunch, only their upper torsos visible out of the water. When the toast pops up we venture beneath the surface and there is the child, submerged, enjoying breakfast, stealing the jam. It's a half water world, for it reaches only five feet in height and after the washing is hung out to dry, it is placed on a bed under the water. Umbrellas for rain, wiping away the perspiration, and watering the plants: there's an absurd logic in the world of the water people. The citizens enjoy their world, apart from the lone shark that occasionally pops up for lunch and even this occasions no sense of panic, just a fin and sudden disappearance. There's elements of two traditional children's stories. We've had one. There's a king who hates water and has all the girls lined up to kiss the frog in the belief that it will be a prince. And the two huge holiday makers whose existence threatens this sweet, alternative universe, particularly given the connivance of the monarch who enlists them to his cause. I last wrote about Paul's work in September 2008. For some semblance of biography go there. And note that the YouTube film has no comments - like my blog. And like my blog, it's lovely. Ha.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Arjen Klaverstijn "Manfred" (2010)

Here is something nice and light to re-establish myself after so long away, my vacation, professional and personal circumstances taking a strange turn, not entirely planned. Arjen Klaverstijn graduated from the Utrecht School of Arts with Manfred, an amalgam of Maya’s 2D and 3D technology. The short is a simple, humorous piece in which Manfred queues at a bus stop only to be out manoeuvred and lose his place to others, bad enough at any time but worsened by a deluge of rain, albeit a situation our guy turns to best advantage. In an age where reality of animated figures can be absolute, Arjen has rectangular characters, some taller or squarer than others, but imposing a satisfying chunkiness, the endearing central character a hoped for model for other proposed episodes. Click here to view a series of clips revealing the making-of secrets. Expressions of concern for my welfare have been welcome though, as I have been quick to reiterate, for the past fortnight I have been somewhere mid-Mediterranean, or was it the Aegean? Anyway it was hot.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Harrie Geelen "Safe Haven" (2009 - Cloudmachine)

A rather beautiful piece of work today made for Dutch band Cloudmachine whose dreamy track Safe Haven was animated for free by the noted animator/ director/ illustrator Harrie Geelen. Have you ever noticed the similarity of a wrapped sweet to a coloured fish? Neither have I but Harrie opens our eyes to the possibilities as shoals of sweets journey towards their safe haven accompanied by clockwork mechanisms or cutlery sets making plausible imitations of sea creatures. Mythological figures sit astride giant fish, sailors from a bygone age bob in 3D waves as paper boat makes it way past beaming lighthouse to enter a harbour of sorts and the final curtain. Sweet and evocative imagery, the HQ images from the video are worth a click. The video was added to the collection of the Film Museum in Amsterdam. It was selected for the Animation Film Festival 2009 in Utrecht and will be shown in Paris at the Le Meilleur Du Court Métrage festival on June 15th, 2010. Band member Ruud Houweling explains: "It was made with no budget, single handedly by Harrie, just because he wanted to help us out. Labours of love are always good." They are indeed but not usually this good. The music was recorded in CA by sound engineer Oz Fritz who has worked for Tom Waits. I like it very much! Harrie meanwhile is nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award 2010 and Hans Christian Anderson Award 2010 (a.k.a. Little Nobel Prize).

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Linde Faas "Vogel" (2007) & Alban Lelièvre "Do Penguins Fly?" (2006)

Continuing the theme of birds from yesterday are two movies completely different in style and tone. I suppose they share more than this for the birds are invisible to unknowing eyes. Linde Faas’s Vogel is quite extraordinarily interesting. I wrote about her style yesterday and that drawing ability is again to the fore. Linde features a boy and his pet bird, Tommie, who fell from the sky, hurt his wing and was nursed back to full health. You can see him flying around, drinking from the glass, perched on the little boy’s shoulder. The adult questioning the boy is unable to see the bird. But we can, can’t we? The conclusion is both apt and novel. Vogel is a most unusual short from an animator with a gift. The link is to a subtitled version. Director Alban Lelièvre asks another question in the funny Do Penguins Fly? (42mb via Computer Arts). It’s not a find as approximately 2,000,000 hits on YouTube since 2006 testifies. I’ve been meaning to write about it for some time. Quick summary: guy with camera wishes to photograph penguins flying but the darn things don’t do it on camera. There are few surprises about the plot but the cock crow is and I’m sure that was not a penguin at the end. Fabrice Senia animated the accomplished 3D piece.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Linde Faas "Volgens de Vogels" ("According to Birds" 2008)

There is a moment in Linde Faas’s tranquil film, Volgens de Vogels, (According to Birds) as a dandelion seed floats to the earth, when one begins to unwind. There are other moments to get horizontal: water drips to a pool and ripples spread out, a leaf is blown gently upwards into the wintry treetops, or at the outset leaves settle into water. Oh and there are the birds. Linde’s movie is full of birds, the dawn hunting expedition as, with scarcely a murmur, an owl takes an insect on the wing, a heron and rooks, in close-up or as bent lines in sky. "I've always had a fascination for birds. The way they move is very strange, they seem in their own world, disconnected from ours." Linde eschews music. Her sound is a rustle of leaves or the birds calling out. She is an artist and a fine one at that with a sureness of touch. She animates her birds with a delicacy that is rare indeed. One of the comments on the YouTube link suggests turning up the volume. I concur adding only that I’d turn it up louder. No story, just a beauty and peace. The short is hand drawn on paper and was Linde's graduation film whilst at St. Joost Art Academy. More of her work in the week.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Jerry van de Beek & Betsy De Fries "Journey" (CALU - 2010)

Jerry van de Beek and Betsy De Fries comprise the small but perfectly formed Little Fluffy Clouds, a California based company that from what I can make out seems to turn its adroit hand to whatever project is put its way. Take Journey (25mb), a 30 second ad for the University of California, Pennsylvania. Watch how the curved blue line moves outwards towards a rowing boat before we alight at the university campus, gradually being populated by students, the buildings and trees such warm colours, to be whisked upwards, above the entire university, a community set inside a blue sea. Pastoral and enticing, the freshness of it all makes one want to start again. A watercolour mix of 2D and 3D, using Maya and After Effects, college life as one might wish it to be. Parents would certainly. Clean living. And a very cool ad. There's more work on their website, for some very prestigious clients, as indeed is CALU. I want to go there.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Michael Visser/NMTrix "The Dark " (2009)

Strange bedroom, nervous sleeper, noises off. The Dark is a debut short for Dutch studio NMTrix. The 3D piece is extremely well made in a technical sense whilst the rolling eyes of the nervous would-be sleeper, sudden loss of power and reliance on flash light keeps one interested in terms of character and plot. Night terrors make for good drama and here the suspense, tempered by humour, sustains interest until the terrifying conclusion. Now I have to confess the bedroom does not match the classic haunted house on the hill exterior witnessed in the opening moments, this being if anything an adolescent's bedroom, but it goes to show how terror can strike in the most unlikely places. Whatever, a burst of Perry Como can alleviate any horrors of the night. And don't monsters have big teeth. As a means of showcasing the talents of the commercial studio, a good short like this works wonders.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Masterpiece 2.0

Masterpiece 2.0 is a project by Dutch artists Baschz and Selfcontrolfreak, in which via the web members of the public can influence how an animation takes shape. One can also pay to appear in some form or other. I'll spare viewers the sight of me placing images on canvas and I can't afford the fee. Further details can be obtained from Kristy Thomley whose blog, two if by see, is a place I warmly recommend. Since Kristy contacted me two weeks ago the project has advanced a bit, as of today reaching 333 animation frames, creating 83 seconds of animation - perhaps in truth not quite so advanced as I might have anticipated. Still, there's time yet, the embryonic animation being well drawn, inventive and crying out for further input.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Elmer Kaan "Mac & Roe"

Anyone for tennis? Dutch animator Elmer Kaan is one of those discerning people who follow the blog so I trust it will be a pleasant surprise for him (and a humorous pleasure for all of you) to see his fine stop motion piece Mac & Roe featured here. Splitting the screen down the net allows for some gentle and not so gentle manipulation of rules, where etiquette flies out of the window. I've never seen a player stomp on another one before. Nice play on words for the title - You cannot be serious! I warm to the little fellows in a way I never did towards their namesake. A graduate of Image and Media Technology/ Animation from the Utrecht School of Arts though Elmer now, lucky man, resides in Italy.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Michael Sewnarain "Regen" (2005)

Based on a poem by the Dutch writer J.H. Leopold, self-taught animator Michael Sewnarain's Regen (link to artist's site - alternatively via YouTube) has an artist finding inspiration after a rain shower. In fact the frustration is given rather more time in the animation than the inspiration as the artist hurls everything and possibly including a kitchen sink (I lost track) at the canvas. We have artists in the UK whose artwork is about as pleasing as the junk stuck within the frame. No need for rainstorms for them. After a pleasing swoop down amongst the houses, the distortion and trickery with perspective as the painter works in his studio makes for an entertaining piece, whilst everything is boldly drawn and I particularly like the music from Harry Koopman. Michael has a good variety of work on his site including animations.

Attractiive score by

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Borge Ring "Run of the Mill"

Run of the Mill should be compulsory viewing in all schools. The Oscar winning Borge Ring directed and was co-writer with Joanika Ring. Made in 1999, it is the story of a young boy seemingly cocooned in a loving family who nevertheless becomes prey to a drug-dealer. I have read that it is a little heavy handed in the treatment of a drug problem but it sustained my interest throughout; ever the optimist I anticipated that the two parents would pull the boy back from the self-constructed bubble that envelops him, and that sustained love and attention would win the day. In fact the movie begins in a halcyon setting as young girl and boy cycle together in the countryside; fast forward a little and the two grow up and raise their own child. The image of the mill, personified as in the best of Disney, the opening moments as the children career about on their toy ponies, the sun beaming down its bounty on the young family, the bespectacled schoolhouse, the idyllic family home: everything conspiring like Keats' autumn to bless the family. The change is signalled in a striking use of metaphor as a fluttering, friendly tweetie bird is devoured by a hawk released from its hood by its master, only for the raptor the next time to be a flying drug dealer who takes into his "talons" the young boy. The restricted palette of greens and browns gives a clue to the harshness of the message despite the bewildered, stoic and continuing love of the parents. Former musician Borge played and composed the music that does so much to hint at and evade an innocent childhood. The photograph below is taken from a series posted by Danish film director Jørgen Vestergaard who made a documentary about the great man acouple of years ago. Borge is approaching his 88th birthday, still very active and alert - as a series of emails has made very obvious to me. As with Anna and Bella, covered in an earlier article here, the video has been posted by Borge's daughter, Anne-Mieke.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Borge Ring "Anna and Bella"

I try to put a bit of everything into the blog. Today's movie is Borge Ring's classic, the winner of the Academy Award in 1985 - Anna and Bella. If you have missed it you are in for a rare treat. In a funny opening sequence one sees, in full colour, the beast devouring the beauty, only to track upwards to the girl reading her comic and picking her nose. The sisters of the title are seen through their photo albums, their life revealed in an initially warm and joyous series of escapades as Bella steals the toilet tissue, their parents greet them at the peel of the school bell and the pair grow to womanhood amidst flowers. The mature women laugh riotously over the snapshots of their younger selves, red wine served in copious amounts. The mood changes abruptly with the arrival of the long haired young man whose attention is diverted from one to the other, one sister in raptures, the other seething on the drive home. The mood changes are reflected in a variety of styles incorporated into one movie, the different forms somehow harmoniously, and always ingeniously, grouped in a movie of rare depth. Borge moves through shades of grey for the past, judicious use of colour elsewhere, whilst metaphor is used for the men as bees flying from their hives to the pubescent girls, very shapely now in mini skirts; or circling the moon when the bee has landed! The animation is effortlessly rendered, never more so than in the two old ladies rolling around in glee, or clutching a sister's arm as memories cause pain. There is also a dramatic scene towards the end that is rivetting though the conclusion is not to be spoiled here. In under 8 minutes Borge moves from laughter to tears to.. well, watch this stunning movie yourself. The YouTube link was posted by Anne-Mieke, Borge's daughter.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Joris Oprins "Wad"

Today's featured animation is another world away from yesterday's and, indeed, tomorrow's scenic extravaganza. The Dutch Wadden Sea is a semi-enclosed area of the North Sea consisting of tidal mud flats and marine life - for which it is internationally well known. It is not a particularly scenic place though I accept beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wad, directed by Joris Oprins in 2003, is a quirky movie set amongst the mud and sand in which two people and a dog get trapped by the rising water. Thickly drawn in mud and tar on wet sandpaper, the colour scheme must have been easy to assemble, as would the drawings. However it has a comic charm, as the murky figures make sandcastles and, this is guesswork, catch crabs. One is dragged off by the wind though the second perseveres and leaves a touching reminder at the close. Joris graduated from the Eindhoven Design Academy in 2003. His company website does have more orthodox work on it including work in colour!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Jerry van de Beek & Betsy de Fries "The Car and The Road: A Romance in Automation"

Imitation is the sincerest form of appreciation so when I get a mention in a blog I was and am so pleased to find - Betsy de Fries' A Cumulus - I have to reciprocate. Which is not what I had in mind when I commenced the opening sentence of today's blog intending to speak of imitation. The Car and The Road: A Romance in Automation must be viewed in conjunction with tomorrow's Sunday Classic. A sensible straight road is hopelessly in love with a car who is not enamoured of him. She wanted curves and down hills, not dignity and reliability. The straight road's attempt, via angles and bends, to undulate a little, as all fairy stories do, of course succeeds and he woos the fickle car to drive off into the sunset at the close. The allegiance to Chuck Jones and Norton Juster is absolute and in consequence the Lexus Car Corporation has a classy four minute ad with which to woo their customers. Parody mocks or satirises, whereas this is pastiche, very much in fond homage to The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, the original Oscar winning movie. Made over forty years ago, that hugely experimental cartoon has worn well indeed, as I hope I make clear tomorrow. The Car and The Road possesses an intelligent, witty script from directors Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries (Little Fluffy Clouds) that transfers well to the world of automobiles, though the movie loses much of the mathematical wordplay of its predecessor, of necessity I guess, given the transfer from abstract geometrical shape to more tangible straight road. It gains something however. A debt to the new technology perhaps but the use of colour here is sumptuous: when the car floats in bubbles or journeys up the new moon, I feel a more romantic hand at the wheel and, dare I say it, I also prefer the modern narrator to that of a slightly po faced delivery by Robert Morley, if that epithet can be applied to a voice. A great concept, fabulously animated and my ad of the year to date.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Betsy De Fries & Jerry van de Beek "Au Petite Mort"

Au Petite Mort is the second of an intended series of three shorts from Little Fluffy Clouds. The action begins with an autumn leaf in the river. Symbols of autumn, ever since I read John Keats in school, have always signalled danger and sure enough the iridescent dragonfly is in mortal danger as the equally brilliant fish surges up towards the surface and its prey. The dramatic twist in the tale is nicely achieved and there is a magnificent sense of spectacle to the whole piece, from fragmented droplets of disturbed water to the animals themselves. The life cycle of the river is vividly encapsulated. Au Petite Mort was created using traditional hand cel animation and a combination of Softimage and Flash. It was rendered in Mental Ray, which accounts I guess for the outstanding lighting effects. In similar fashion to their film yesterday, Betsy De Fries (UK ) and Jerry van de Beek (Netherlands) have produced a beautiful piece of work, though here amidst all the dazzling beauty there is cruelty.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

In Praise of Barack Obama: Today (Billy Collins & Little Fluffy Clouds)

Today: Today's extra animation should have been aired yesterday but I was busy. It's based on a poem by Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-06 and made by Little Fluffy Clouds. It seems appropriate on a grey day here when such little light as exists is cast by events across the Atlantic. The words resonate with hope and the GCI piece is beautifully crafted by the design team, co-founders Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries. Billy's warm voice, a quintessentially American rural landscape on a perfect Spring day, butterflies, canary let out of its cage, splinters of light, flowers and a young couple squinting in the bright sunlight: the piece unfolds and matches the rich voice of the narrator and lyrical beauty of the poem. Lovely and uplifting. If Obama were to discover British nationality I'd vote for him. Alternatively the short can be viewed on the San Francisco Bay Area studio's Sundance Channel. I shall be looking at some of the studio's other work tomorrow and Saturday, as a lead up to the (Chuck Jones) Sunday Classic.

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