Island by Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel

Sound, texture, light, selective focus, all go into the making of an animated short that is all at once realistic and abstract. Director Max Mörtl told us, “With ‘Island’ we wanted to create something fresh with lots of crazy characters.” Indeed, each of the colorful characters made up of unique combinations of basic shapes are vaguely recognizable yet quirky and fresh.

“We put these creatures on a hidden isle far away from the world we live in,” Mörtl continued. “The idea behind this experiment was to let these individual islanders communicate with each other by making strange sounds. Every one of them contributes its voice to the community and a rhythm starts to evolve which ends in a curious symphony.”

In addition to sound, this cohesive culmination comes down to shapes. “On our Island everything is kept together by our overall visual language of abstract and geometric shapes. We looked for a fresh and recognizable style and ended up in a mix of stop motion and 2D animation that unites digital brush strokes, shapes and structures with handcrafted elements out of paper, plasticine, styrodur, and paint.

“We designed lots of different characters, equipped with weird body shapes to give them special sound producing skills. Our sound designer David Kamp joined us in an early stage of the character design and inspired us with lots of buzzing, roaring, tweeting, squeaking and wobbling. It was important for us that the development process allows a mutual influence of image and sound.”

When it came to animation the team wanted to ensure that the stop motion and 2D animation complemented each other perfectly. While co-director Robert Löbel was working on the 2D animation, Max focused on the stop motion animation and set building. “For some of the characters we had a drawn pose to pose animation,” he told us, “which we used as line-up video in Dragonframe to create the stop motion part. This was especially helpful for animating characters having their digital drawn eyes and legs right on the screen and the body on the stop motion set.”

Apart from working on commercials, this team of talented creators are gathering ideas for a new short right now. Similar to “Island,“ they aim to create a vivid interplay between stop motion and 2D animation once more.

Directors: Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel
Sound: David Kamp
Producer: Robert Löbel
Funded by FFA Germany

For more on the process, see the team’s behind the scenes images below: