Experimental Animation: Where Drawings Go To Sleep

10.03.2014

Animation tutor and storyteller Dane Jacobs give us an exclusive insight into the creation of his latest short film.

“Where Drawings Go To Sleep” started as a sort of New Year's resolution, after a discussion with a colleague on New Year's eve. I thought that if I stopped worrying so much about the quality of my films, and focused more on meeting strict deadlines, I could probably get a lot of films done in my lifetime.

I thought to myself, what if I gave myself 3 months to make a film? I could make 4 films a year, if I kept doing this till I was about 60 or 70, I'd have about 160 films made. And sure, a lot of them won't be that great, but after working on so many films for so long, eventually I'd get better at making films quickly, and a lot of them might turn out to be pretty good.

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This was pretty ambitious, and recently I've been doing a little soul-searching to work out what inspired this.

I think this came about as a way of fighting my own perfectionism. The issue of perfectionism is one a lot of artists struggle with, and often not taken very seriously. Some will have the same unrelenting high standards in their personal lives as they do with their art, resulting in stress, anxiety and depression. My way of fighting this was by focusing my attention away from the quality of the art I was producing, and instead on the journey of discovery through a simple limitation (that being, a strict 3 month timeline).

A scene from Angels Egg 1985

Oshii, M. (Director). (1985). Tenshi no Tamago [Angel’s Egg]. Japan: Manga Video.

A sense of spontaneity and playfulness was therefore an important factor in the process of making this film as well. I spent less than an hour thinking of ideas for this film. I chose something slow-paced because it's an area of cinema I am becoming more and more interested in, so it came to mind pretty quickly. I have grown rather fond of films like “Angel's Egg” (1985) and “Night on the Galactic Railroad” (1985), and though I find them challenging, “Solaris” (1972) and “Stalker” (1979). Another big influence on my work is a mini web series called “The Diary of Tortov Roddle” (2004). These slow, meditative pieces invite deep introspection and contemplation, a mode of thinking very important for treating the anxiety and depression caused by perfectionism.

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Sugii, G. (Director). (1985). Ginga Tetsudō no Yoru [Night on the Galactic Railroad]. Japan: Nippon Herald Films.

Spontaneity and playfulness also led me to attempt integrating 2D animation with 3D animation. At the time I started working on this film, my flatmate, Karl Lodge, was experimenting with Agisoft Photoscan. This software creates 3D models out of photographs taken of real-life objects. I had discussed my concepts for the film I was working on, including the idea of a paper ball as the “world” that the film is set in. Together we decided to use Agisoft Photoscan to help us create the dream-like setting required for the film.

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All three of these topics (perfectionism, slow cinema and 2D/3D integration) are areas I would like to explore further in future projects. While I didn't create a film of my own every 3 months this year, I have contributed significantly to three films so far, so if I work on one more, it proves I am capable of working on about 4 films a year. This rate of production and its effect on my own mood and emotional state is certainly something I would like to research more, as I have felt, overall, much more positive this year.

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Certainly, the connection between psychology and film-making is something that I find fascinating, so some kind of further exploration of this area seems likely in future.

Check out Dane's short film 'Where Drawings Go to Sleep' here:

What did you think of the film?

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