This is mainly a workshop diary. Eventually different pieces will become another film. Updates will happen as time allows.

newer entries

new characters

Yesterday I counted my projects and found I have 4 short films in the making at the same time. Which is nice because they all use different styles and animation techniques, so I switch from one to the other just to not get bored.

This sketch shows 2 characters for a quick-and-dirty project I started last friday. What you can't see in the first image is the nice rasterized background, the second one shows it in original size: I scanned in some old postcards and magazine pages and extracted the print screen dot patterns. They add a nice organic quality to the flat colours of the characters.

I like these patterns. I remember when I was a child I studied street posters in close-up and was fascinated by the dot patterns.

Happy New 2010!

Click image for a short animation.

fresh toast

This is a sketch for a prospective job involving lots of icons. I just thought it would be fun to animate some of them.

Click image for a short animation.

paraplü goes 35mm!

Yesterday I received a call with the good news: I've found a sponsor for doing the 35mm print of Paraplü! It's the german Knirps® company, well-known manufacturer of collapsable umbrellas - a perfect fit with the film's theme.

Paraplü is my first film designed for 35mm. There's an older one, Zeichenfischfilm (1989), still distributed on 35mm, but that was a blow-up from Super8. You may spot Paraplü in german cinemas soon!

showreel 2009

My showreel for 2009 is finished. It's 3 minutes long, and you can either watch it online (90 MB), or contact me to get a DVD.

dial "1" for dalí

I'm still sick, but the fever gave me some surreal dreams which I directly scribbled into a sequence about giant telephone carcasses in a desert setting. I always liked the paintings of Yves Tanguy and Salvador Dalí, especially the ones with bone-like structures supporting other elements.

Click images for a short animation.

"paraplü" shows at interfilm festival berlin

Today 5.11.2009, 21:00 h, Babylon, and tomorrow 6.11.2009, 23:00 h, Filmtheater am Friedrichshain, in this program. I'll be there today, although I have a terrible cold, but I must see my neighbour Olaf Encke's film "Judas & Jesus". Hopefully they'll screen Paraplü from Digibeta, full HD on the big screen.

"herbert" wasn't chosen

My project pitch didn't make it into the 25 finalists in the contest described here. A big Thank You to all who voted for me! Despite not having won, it was an interesting experience anyway. I'm especially proud of the choice of voice talents (kudos to them all!) and the quality of the recording, although there's still much to be improved. The material I created for this will not be lost, it's useful for other projects.

If you want to see the animatic, here it is (as long as it's kept online):

going underground

Both my films have been accepted for Going Underground! And I've already seen them in the subway - great feeling. You can watch them on their website, but only on the very same day they also run in the subway, so try again later if you can't play them. You can also vote until Sept 15th.

Update: OK, 4th and 2nd place - means no money for me.

finished "wall"!

More or less in time, it's a bit over 1 minute long. Now I'm waiting for some emails telling me my films are accepted.

Click for a short animation.

a new idea, a fast film

Last weekend I noticed that the Going Underground competition is still open for entries until August 20th, so I came up with this idea (while riding the tram) and scribbled this "board". Let's see if I manage to finish this 90 second film in 3 weeks.

Yes, that's the way my storyboards look like, if I bother to draw them at all. It's more like shorthand for what I already see finished in my mind, not very useful as a working document for somebody else.

book illuminations in motion

Continuing with my experiments with cutout animation in Anime Studio (AS), I found that these medieval illuminations are a perfect source material. But it's a bit annoying that any animation with this technique unavoidably reminds people at Terry Gilliam's work.

Click here for a short animation.

paraplü found distributor

I've got a lot of invitations to festivals for Paraplü from people who saw it in Hamburg. Unfortunately I couldn't make it there - I missed my own premiere. But the best thing is that it was picked up by a distributor already! (It's interfilm in Berlin, please contact distribution@interfilm.de) This means that I have to record the film on 35mm, a first for me, and an expensive one too, because I don't get funding for this.

back from stuttgart animation film festival

That was great. In the 4 days there I watched about 90 films. If you want to know which films won any prizes, see here.

My personal favourites were a bit different. I finally saw Idiots and Angels by Bill Plympton - a visual and aural delight, but I think it has not enough story to fill 78 minutes. However, it was a pleasure to meet Bill and listen to his insightful commments. This was his first film which was coloured digitally - he still draws on paper. His team did a great job especially in composing the animation with the backgrounds, everything blended into one fine image, without any visible seams. The colours and the lighting are superb, and the music mix is great.

Bill explained a bit about his workflow. For a feature he would write down the story points on two pages first. Then he would storyboard everything for about a year, doing about 1000 drawings for a feature. Only after that animation starts, with him getting up as early as 6 in the morning (ugh ...) and drawing until 8 at night. He also pointed out that he doesn't earn as much money with his feature films as he does with his shorts. He told us "Plympton's Dogma" for successful animation: 1. short - 2. cheap (not more than 1000 $ a minute) - 3. funny.

A quite interesting film was Lost in Tel Aviv by Guy and Netta Dimet. Running 48 minutes, it told the true story of its creators. It was a mixed experience: animaton and sound were quite crude, yet the story kept the audience involved.

I liked Karl Tebbes film Milbe very much. The trailer is a bit misleading: the film deals with a serious subject (the filmmaker's grandmother may get institutionalized because of dementia) in a very humourous, even a bit gory manner. The mix of stop motion and pixillation is quite charming.

Several student's films made an impression on me: Maschinenmärchen by Michael Ammer, The year I cut my hair by Ami Lindholm, Dear Fatty by Hsin-I Tseng, Lied 12 by Katha Niedermeier, Death in the yellow house by Anna Virtanen, Mobitel Mania by Darko Vidackovicko. Styx by Aike Arndt was a pleasant surprise. The old story elements of Charon, the Styx, Cerberus, and how to pay the ferryman, have been combined in a new and very funny way.

The Royal Nightmare by Alex Budovsky was another fine work from this animator, whose Bathtime in Clerkenwell is one of my favourites. I had the pleasure to meet him, he's a really nice guy.

My favourite film in the competition was The Phantom of the Cinema by Erik van Schaaik. It doesn't happen that often that I need several minutes to sort out how an animation was done. But his characters move so fluidly that I couldn't decide wether it were live action or some kind of puppetry. The film is great on so many levels, every detail is done with excellence. Do yourself a favour and watch this in a theatre on 35mm, it was created for that. Erik turned out to be a very nice guy as well, with a quite playful approach to animation.

stuttgart animation film festival

Vom 5. bis zum 8. Mai schaue ich mir in Stuttgart Trickfilme an. Noch jemand? Paraplü wurde leider nicht ins Programm aufgenommen, aber wer Interesse hat, kann ihn auf DVD anschauen, noch vor der offiziellen Premiere in Hamburg im Juni.

I'm watching animated films in Stuttgart from May 5th to 8th. If you're there as well, let's meet! Paraplü will not be screened in Stuttgart, but I'll have the DVD with me to show to interested people, before it's official premiere in Hamburg in June.

Internationales Trickfilm-Festival Stuttgart 2009

woodcuts in motion

Recently I've been experimenting a lot with cutout animation in Anime Studio (AS). Wood engravings have always been a favourite kind of imagery for me, and I always liked the works of Jan Lenica and Karel Zeman.

Click here for a short animation.

Click here for a short animation.

street in kreuzberg - background

Over the years I made several thousand photographs of the streets of Berlin. Most are just for reference or inspiration.

For this background I decided to directly trace the image in TVPaint with black outlines. Then I picked the colours from the image as well, but applied them more freely. I think the result is quite balanced and delivers the chilly November mood. This workflow is quite fast, it took only about 2 hours for the background. Original size is HDTV, 1920 x 1080px. The animation was done in TVP as well.

Click to enlarge. Click here for a short animation.

You have to be fast if you want to see the original location. The building is in danger to soon get demolished and replaced by yet another ugly hotel.

background pan

I really like the tricks background artists perform to create a certain perspective illusion in 2D. Pencil on A4 paper, coloured in PS.

Click to enlarge.

brushing teeth

Do you know this feeling, especially in the morning, when you're not really awake, that there are much more things going on than you could process right now? I always liked the idea that there were strange little creatures living behind the bathroom tiles who always come out when I'm not ready to notice. Should animate nicely.

bathroom

This one was done with pencil on A4 paper, then coloured in Photoshop. The texture is visibly digital, but that's OK - I don't pretend to work in natural media only. I couldn't help but notice that these bigger brushes in PS are quite slow - TVP is much more responsive in that respect. Original size 3400px wide. Animation done in TVPaint.

Click to enlarge. Click here for a short animation.