Jason Carpenter: The Renter

Do yourself a favor: Stop what you’re doing and, for the next 9 minutes devote your attention to “The Renter,” an animated short by CalArts alum Jason Carpenter.

Powered by a haunting score from Jeff Shiffman, “The Renter” gets under your skin. The relationships between the characters are fraught with ambiguity, making them feel more authentic than the tidy roles often found in student films. From the animal-like prowling of the old man to the cowering hesitancy of the little boy, each movement of each character imparts dramatic weight, even as it stokes uncertainties about the characters’ motivations.

The Look

Despite the film’s painterly look and bounty of textures, the process behind it was nearly all digital:

Except for some early drawings and thumbnails, I didn’t use any paper. I really tried to approach the digital production the same way I would if I were using traditional mediums. Before I started the animation, I blocked out rough layouts and animatics in Flash. With some basic brushes and a couple of paper textures I got from a friend, I started working on the backgrounds in Photoshop. The “texture” of the film results more from how I worked with the tools I had and not so much what tools they were.

In a time of backlash against digital processes and stilted romanticism for analogue techniques, I find Jason’s attitude refreshing. All tools, whether digital or analogue, are tools. Their superiority is only judged by the artist who wields them and the purposes to which they are applied.

For more information, check out the official site.

One Comment

Mack Garrison

Great film, and a pleasant surprise for me this morning. I was lucky enough to have Jason and his brother Michael as guest professors for a semester when I was studying animation at NC State University’s College of Design. These two guys are essentially the reason I’m a motion designer today. Glad to see their work getting some big exposure!

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