Packaged Goods – Artful Animation

February 11, 2013 | By

Even after consuming Krazy-Glue, he can still wobble in time. (Brown catatonic dude, front row and first right)

Although animated films and commercials were important components in prior entries of the TIFF Bell Lightbox’ Packaged Goods series, they never received their own showcase –  until now.

Screening Wednesday February 20th at 7pm, Artful Animation features the familiar mix of music videos, adverts, PSA’s, and short films, and the 64 minutes of material will be followed by discussion with Gerald Ding, Creative Director of the commercial studio Psyop.

Starting with the music video category is C2C’s “The Beat,” which artfully blends rotoscoped and computer animated sketches and geometric line drawings with a pulsing, bass-friendly soundtrack. The only downside to the video is that it’s too short – just as the bass groove and interwoven patterns start to really get into gear, the video winds down, leaving us wanting a lot more of director Dai-Dai Tran’s fluid imagery.

According to director Ryan Staake, when Diplo’s “Set It Off” is blasting through the cosmic reaches of space, pole dancers begin to gather on not one but an entire web-work of poles, gyrating in slow-motion while the galaxy’s stars twinkle in tandem with their tassels and gilded wardrobe. More than other videos, this short benefits from a cinema screening due to its pulsing rhythm and the crisp HD cinematography which captures the nuances of Earth’s orbiting exotic dancers who bravely keep the male astronauts in the Space Station sane during their months in a spam canister.

An armless Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) experiences a surreal dream where objects within his bedroom reassemble into a robotic arm and make him whole in Flying Lotus’ “Tiny Tortures”; and Gotye returns to the TBL screen with “Easy Way Out.” Their video features a full 360 degree pan motion that gradually gathers all of the singer’s clones in the merging bedroom, kitchen, and office sets. The weirdest video of the lot is Converse’s “Doanything” that chronicles a youth waking up in a crowded, filthy frat house, and narrowly missing the ire of a serial killer housemate,  and the consumption of human ears.

Strangeness also dominates Andrew Huang’s often beautiful “Solipsist” which is ostensibly about the life cycle between two underwater dancers who become jellyfish variants, and two humanoid men whose heads implode into clouds of explosive red sand. The soundtrack is exceptionally vivid, and Huang’s animation style features almost seamless blending between practical and animated effects. Those with bug phobias (especially house centipedes) might cringe a little during the dancers’ transformation dance.

Another short with strong visuals is Kaleb Lechowski’s “R’ha,” but his story of a captured alien warrior subjected to a tortuous experience is a little too familiar, and suffers from clichéd dialogue.

Like prior Packaged Goods programmes, the show ends with a lengthy short: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” Directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg have crafted a reverent ode to the beauty of books, but amid the high sentimentalism there are some very affable elements, especially the eponymous character who starts off as a Buster Keaton variant. After a Wizard of Oz-style hurricane overturns the town, Lessmore helps reassemble the library, and the books are revealed as living / flying entities, with a full range of emotions.

The adverts in Artful Animation vary from chocolates to the gory “Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” trailer. The BBC’s self-aggrandizing “Stadium UK” unsurprisingly over-beats the 2012 Summer Olympics signature theme as animated athletes train and perform in iconic environs across Blighty.

The best ad among the lot is Australia’s Metro Trains Melbourne. Designed to instill a sense of logic and sane self-preservation, the rudimentary animation depicts several “Dumb Ways to Die,” and every misanthropic moron who offed himself / herself through sheer acts of stupidity eventually joins fellow morons in the song’s chorus as best as they can. Even a victim who self-ingested Krazy-Glue manages to hobble in time in spite of being permanently frozen stiff. Good lad!

Coming next: soundtrack reviews, and the first of several test footage extracts featuring  trippy analogue video feedback that’ll form some basis for BSV 1172.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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