In a study of human mechanics and art, Russian animator, Polina Kutukina, has created an animation of Jade Xu, three-time Wushu/Kung Fu World world champion, practicing her craft with uncanny exactitude. “The main concept is to reveal the realism of movement,” Kutukina told us, “and I am more and more convinced that this does not depend on the number of frames per second of animation, but on micro-movements that distinguish living people from artificial ones.”

A stand-alone study, this piece caught our eye all by itself for its ability to mimic the art and precision of Xu’s movements so well. We asked Kutukina how she pulled it off: “Before starting work, I conduct a deep analysis of the required movement. If I have to work with material that I have not worked on before, I shoot references and watch a huge number of films on a frame-by-frame basis.

“The surface on which the puppet moves is some of the hardest kind of solid foam (in Russia it is used to build submarines). So, on it I fix the puppet’s legs with nails in any positions I need. The puppet is made of soft but hard-wearing metals and is about 30cm tall. The rig is made from various parts found in everyday life, there is a part from a Soviet sewing machine and cast iron pipes.”

She said her challenge was, as always, not having enough time. “Time is running too fast. The objects that I use to create stop-motion are the hand-made work of experienced and talented people, but unfortunately they are no longer young.

“Stop motion production in Russia is aging along with its carriers. And every year I lose not only friends, but also the opportunity to continue doing what I love. So, the most difficult challenge is to have time to collect experience not only in the field of animation, but also in the production of puppets, and some production secrets, without which the art of stop motion can lose an important part of many years of experience.”

Understanding that time is every animator’s enemy to some extent, we asked what she will make time for in the future. “I have a basic understanding of what needs to be improved and what still needs to be worked on. But to a greater extent, my plans are a surprise even for me,” she said. So, we look forward to that surprise as well.