Our latest pick is a paper-cutout piece from London’s Picturesmith studio. We recently sat down (digitally) with animator Christian Hopkins to hear about the production of “Tundra.”
“We were inspired by David Attenborough’s documentary series on the Arctic,” said Hopkins. “There’s incredible footage of Arctic Foxes launching themselves into the air and diving down on to a lemming’s burrow. Sometimes getting a bloody face in the process, sometimes getting stuck. So we wanted to show the comedy of this moment and show that some animals can be a bit silly. We plan is to make more short shorts with different animals, which we’ll continue with later this year.”
At just over half a minute, this bite-sized plan sounds like a great way to highlight some of the best of the animal world. In terms of materials, Hopkins shared that, “The whole film was made with paper and we used replacements paper fox and lemming. To achieve this the animation was first made in After Effects. The characters frames were then cut out and glued.”
This can be a tedious process, but the team had some experience behind them: “We’ve done this replacement technique a bunch of times, including our Picturehouse cinema ident which had many more characters. The look of Tundra was closer to our fox zoetrope, but we were keen to use a different approach.”
To round out a well-equipped crew, they worked with DOP Peter Ellmore for camera and lighting, “Who as always, did a brilliant job to get the look we were after,” and Peter Mauder, helped bring the film to life with a subtle sound design that adds some whimsy to the characters’ movement.Even so, challenges presented themselves.
“Working with paper has some challenges like the set moving between takes, so we had to as much as possible to make sure everything was as rigid as possible. Another consideration was the raked lighting on the characters. We wanted to get a bit of boil on the surface so that it somewhat mimicked fur, so for each frame we had to change the axis of each character fractionally. This is easier said than done when the characters are so small, where a very small change can make a bit difference in the lighting.”
Happy with the results, it does sound like there will be more in the future. With many of us still stuck at home, that’s good news, as it promises more brilliant ways to bring the outside in while we’re waiting to get out.
For more behind the scenes, check out the BTS footage below: