Slurpy Studios Animation Studio, London

Annecy favourites – Animated… fish?

One of the things that is so exciting about animation, is the ability to bring pretty much anything to life. And by anything, I mean anything!

One of the earliest animators, Vladislav Starevich used dead insects and other animals with teeny little armatures to tell his stories (like you do). Here’s his delightfully macabre ‘The Insect’s Christmas’ from 1913.

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PEZ is perhaps the master of bringing ordinary household objects to life, his film Western Spaghetti uses silver foil as oil, sweeties as flames and pick up sticks as spaghetti in a wickedly imaginative alternative way of cooking.

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And now, one of my favourite films from Annecy 2012 has gone that little bit further. Una Furtiva Lagrima shows “The last journey of a fish as it sings its own requiem, from the fish market all the way to the frying pan” – it’s animated fish. Actual fish. Hard to imagine how smelly that got over a several month long shoot!

una furtiva lagrima animation

Director Carlo Vogele describes the process:

“Many people have been asking me if I used a wire structure inside the fish to animate it, the answer is no. The actual bones of the fish provided all the structure I needed to move jaw and fins around, I just had to find a way to hold the poses still while I was shooting frame by frame. The solution I found most successful was to work with the fish in a half frozen state.

After purchase of the bass at the fishmarket, I’d stick it in the freezer until I was ready for a full night of animating. I would take the stinky bastard out a few hours ahead of shooting, while setting up the lights and camera. The fish would thaw from stonehard to kind of rigid in 3 hours, and for a while, its head, fins and mouth would have the right rigidity in order to hold a pose for a while.

So I’d animate as fast as I could, until the fish thawed completely and its jaw went slack… that is when invisible thread was useful : I’d lift the slack jaw with a string which I’d attach to an overhead structure off-screen.”

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There’s just something about the incredible sincerity that Carlo Vogele is able to get out of his stinky puppets that makes me laugh – the melodramatic music juxtaposed against the naturally comedic expressions of the fish makes this film simply hilarious.

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Posted in Animation Review, Stop Motion Animation | Tagged , | Posted by Katie Steed

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