Adrian Dexter: Vaesen

Adrian Dexter and a very talented team of fellow students have just completed Vaesen, their 2012 Bachelor film project for The Animation Workshop.

Vaesen is a great project for two reasons. It’s a visually lush, fantastically animated film with an absolutely perfect soundtrack. When I chatted with Adrian about the thinking that went into the film, he had this to say:

Visually Vaesen is inspired by Harry Clarke, Ivan Bilibin, Arthur Rackham, and Edmund Dulac. The backgrounds are also heavily inspired by 19th century German and Russian landscape painters.

I wanted the film to feel like some forgotten Rankin & Bass cartoon, that a down-and-out Tarkovsky directed under a moniker, embarrassed by how it turned out.

The score had to be original, but very much an homage to ’70’s psych. I enlisted a good friend of mine, Nick DiSalvo of the band Elder, to score the film. I have done album covers for his band in the past, and we have a good relationship discussing music in visual terms, also we are both obsessed with ’70’s Swedish psych master Bo Hansson, and basically just tried to emulate what he had going on, and infuse some of our current influences.

The storytelling is also incredible. Epic, ambiguous, and open ended — Vaesen combines the feel of an epic folktale with a deeper level of mysticism and hermetic symbolism. I love how Vaesen begins as a seemingly standard epic quest and quickly confounds your expectations by raising questions about the true motivations of the hero and refusing to provide any sort of easy answers. And all of this in a film with no dialog.

Adrian mentions that he was reading a lot of Lord Dunsany and Jorge Luis Borges as he wrote Vaesen, and it absolutely shows through in the finished product. I personally was strongly reminded of the mystical reinterpretation of the folktale that you often see in Miyazaki’s work.

So check out Vaesen. Adrian and the team have also put together a great blog for the project at that has lots of behind-the- scenes and process information.

Adrian Dexter: Director, Story, Backgrounds, Editing, Sound, Compositing, CG Artist
Birk Von Brockdorff: Storyboard, Environment Lead, Layouts, Backgrounds, Rigging, Modeling, CG Artist
Arnold Bagasha: Animatic and Pipeline supervisor, 3D Modeling and Rotoscoping, Backgrounds, CG Artist
Mikkel Vedel Petersen: 2D and 3D Animation, Storyboards
Jody Ghani: Production Designer, Character Design Lead, Technical Art Director, 2D Animation
Drude Mangaard: Art Director, Production Manager, Character Design, 2D Animation


About the author

Elliot Blanchard

Elliot Kealoha Blanchard runs Invisible Light Network, a Brooklyn design studio covering everything from broadcast to interactive and experience projects. He also directs short films, and his previous work has appeared in film festivals around the world.


Eric Edwards

This is extraordinary. Very nostalgic for people who watched the rare animations like this as a child. Definitely feels like it belongs with the likes of “The Last Unicorn” and other Rankin Bass work.

Sean Pecknold

Rad.  Love the music too, nice work!

Mariusz Slemp

Im sorry to say but i really dont get it. I dont understand all those great words about it. I known its a lot of work to make project like this but i dont agree with a comment like “visually lush”…its strongly based on 70`s animation style and its look just like copy of that style. Character design is really bad and is not recognizable. There is much better examples of storytelling and rich symbol interpretation in present animations as well.


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Colin Graham

Haha, the music is totally a rip off of Bo Hansson’s “Lord of the Rings” album!

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