RIP Alain Resnais

Occasionally, one must break the tradition of writing only about work that includes some form of animation, in order to recognize one of the giants of film.

With the loss of Chris Marker in 2012 and the loss of Alain Resnais two days ago, we may be witnessing the end of an era that will forever be inscribed as one of the most powerful and magical in the history of film, and in the history of film-informed mediums. Resnais, whose career sprung from Hiroshima Mon Amour, a film as poignant as it is inventive, often resisted labels and classifications.

Unafraid of tackling difficult topics, he directed Night and Fog, a documentary shot in Auschwitz some ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, as well as the bold and mesmerizing experimental film, Last Year in Marienbad. While his films were often perceived as French new-wave emblems, as films about the intermingling of war and memory, about subjectivity and love, about dream and loss, Resnais never made the same film twice. He was a film “auteur” only in the sense that he reinvented himself over and over again, with the same finesse, courage and fearlessness.

His film career may be one of the richest and most diverse ones of the Silver Screen. Exploring every role of production, Resnais seamlessly navigated between the roles of director, editor, writer, even cinematographer. He tackled all topics with intelligence, and tapping into the great minds of writers such as Jean Cayrol, Marguerite Duras, Jorge Semprún and Alain Robbe-Grillet. He was one of a kind.

“Voilà. Maintenant. Je suis à vous.”

 

“Black Gold” by PES

PES doesn’t release new work very often, so when he does, we tend to get excited. His latest, “Black Gold,” was commissioned to accompany the launch of Delfina Delettrez’s new jewelry line on retail site Yoox.com.

Unlike PES’s other works, which turn everyday objects into unexpected characters and situations, “Black Gold” is a meditation on bodies, beauty and the inevitable entropy that ultimately returns us all to nature. With shots of ants crawling out of a breast and a giant grasshopper perched on a cheek, it’s full of imagery that lingers long past the last frame.

More of our favorite work from PES after the jump

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Celyn: Vitra “Map Table”

With a charming jewel tone palete and lovingly wrought 2D animation, designer/director Celyn (Nexus Productions) shows how simplicity and complexity can coexist in “Map Table.”

The spot’s main aim is to convey the modular nature of Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s Map Table desk, produced by furniture manufacturer Vitra. But in Celyn’s hands, the story becomes unexpectedly beautiful — and reassuringly human.

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Yurcor/The Mill settlement reached in LA, is NY next?

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In California, a class action lawsuit against The Mill and Yurcor has been tentatively settled, striking a major blow against Yurcor’s “Employer of Record” service. The core of the dispute was the practice of using employee wages to pay for employer taxes. That’s a no-no.

The Animation Guild (Local 839 IATSE), who provided support to the artists in the class action suit, is setting its sights on NYC next.

Steve Kaplan of TAG:

The New York artists originally voiced many of the same complaints made in California, but added that the practice was much more prevalent in NYC. We are now ready, willing and able to help New York artists. (Source)

Interest form for NYC Artists

If you’re a NY artist who’s worked through Yurcor and want to recover questionably deducted wages, TAG is encouraging you to fill out this form.

NOTE: Please only fill out the form if you’ve worked through Yurcor in NYC.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, TAG’s Steve Kaplan has been writing about it for quite some time:

Photo by bruckerrlb / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Patrick Clair + Elastic: HBO’s True Detective

One of our favorite projects from 2013 was Patrick Clair’s launch trailer for Tom Clancy’s The Division, a global conspiracy theory rendered in elegant typography and metaphorical imagery.

With the same understated poignance that is his hallmark, Mr. Clair’s latest project is a title sequence created in collaboration with Antibody (Clair’s studio) and Elastic for HBO’s new series, “True Detective.”

In an interview with Art of the Title, Clair explains:

As we started to plan the movement and animation, we faced some interesting challenges. We wanted the titles to feel like living photographs. But the footage was too kinetic and jumpy and stills were too flat and static. Many shots feature footage that has been digitally slowed to extreme degrees. The digital interpolation and artefacts created by slowing footage down often looks strange or tacky, but we found that in this case it evoked a surreal and floaty mood that perfectly captured what we were after.

Read more in Art of the Title’s excellent interview.

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Fraser Davidson: A Guide To American Football

UK-based Fraser Davidson’s latest, “A Guide To American Football,” is a hilarious distillation of one of America’s most beloved pastimes.

In the same spirit as his previous sports-related work, “Irritable Bowl Syndrome” and “Alternative Rugby Commentary,” Davidson mixes whip-crack wit with equally clever visuals to inform and entertain broad audiences with devilishly good design and motion.

In the case of “A Guide To American Football,” Fraser not only designed and animated he everything, he wrote it, too. That, my friends, is the triple threat in this business. Impressive.

Oh, and rumor has it that Davidson completed this project in about two weeks. Wow.

Voiced by Adventures in Design podcast. All sound work by Morgan Samuel.

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Syndrome takes Pause in Melbourne

Syndrome Studio creates the opening titles for the 2014 Pause Fest in Melbourne, Australia. Executive Producer, Monica Blackburn describes the project as “a dream project with full creative freedom” in which “we envisioned the sequence as a journey through a surreal, living art installation piece. Visually representing each aspect of the festival – start-ups, motion, gaming, web and creativity – as physical objects that combine and interlock to form a whole, the open underlines the festival’s theme, “everything is connected”.

The mixture of dated and futuristic technologies, of dusty machinery and glossy interfaces, shape this wonderful homage to the creative process, in which live action and CG merge seamlessly to form a lyrical technological dance.

Music and Sound Design by Echoic.

Miwa Matreyek


Animator/performance artist Miwa Matryek incorporates the silhouette of her own body into projections of her lush animations. Having seen her perform at last year’s Vimeo Festival, I can attest to the power of combining a live theatrical performance with clever front and rear-projection. There’s a bit of magic as you see the “cuts” happen in real life – one moment a hand looms large in frame, her silhouette thrown huge across the screen, the next moment an entire body wanders into frame.

Matryek has two upcoming performances:

See her previous work, Myth and Infrastructure, below. My favorite “movement” starts at 2:53 – when the living silhouette serenely becomes part of the environment, rather than just creating one-to-one interactions.

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Dvein: We Wander

In Dvein’s latest short, “We Wander,” you won’t find CG fluid sims or virtual Rube Goldbergs of visual oddities. Instead, you’ll find haunting visuals of animals carousing in the dusky liminal spaces between darkness and light, nature and civilization and hunted and hunter.

Each shot crackles with graphical clarity, despite being a live action production. The sound design, foley work and music add a hyperreal edge to every animal movement, creating a surreal, visceral undercurrent to the strange narrative that unfolds.

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Saschka Unseld & Pixar: The Blue Umbrella Making-Of Holiday Calendar


The highlight of my 2013 advent calendar season was Saschka Unseld‘s The Blue Umbrella Making-Of Holiday Calendar.

Now that all twenty-four days have been revealed, enjoy a master class in making an animation short – from reading the original pitch to pre-enacting story beats with real umbrellas to early cinematography tests to story reels to color scripts to rain dramaturgy charts to amazing camera capture workflows.

Big thanks to Saschka and Pixar for sharing all of the hard work that went into creating this story!

Want to be on Motionographer? Submit your work here!

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