Whether you are a fan of stop-motion, 3D, or 2D animation, 2012 was truly a phenomenal year for us short animation lovers. It seems that this year—more so than those in recent memory—we were treated to works that were not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also astonishingly innovative. Especially in the realm of animation, the short form is leading the charge for stylistic and narrative change. Thus, we honor those innovators—those dazzling storytellers—with our 2013 short animation winners below. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the best that 2012 had to offer!
Seriously, what more can be said about Mikey Please’s stop-motion masterpiece, The Eagleman Stag? It has dominated festivals, won a BAFTA, has over 300,000 views online—I could list awards and accolades that would go on for pages. And, you know what? All of it is deserved—right down to the last festival laurel. Acclaimed director David Fincher has famously stated that there is a difference between a movie and a film. Well, the Eagleman Stag is most certainly the latter—an epic animated construction as technically brilliant as it is emotionally profound. This isn’t disposable fluff, the click and close thing that dominates most visual internet content. No, this is a film made to be absorbed, digested, and then watched again and again. Bravo, Mr. Please. Bravo.
Want proof that innovation can happen in any medium—even one as traditional as 2D-animation? Just watch Eamon O’Neill’s I’m Fine Thanks, a virtuosic and ingenious five minute visual journey that manages to not only play with animation aesthetic, but also innovate in character design and use of color palette. I’m Fine Thanks delivers a creative punch that goes far beyond what you might normally find in your average graduate student work—it’s a brilliantly paced narrative that chronicles the main character’s journey from downtrodden push-over to angry maniac. No wonder it has received so much acclaim (including a 2013 BAFTA nomination). We’re honored to add to the tally by recognizing it here at Short of the Week.
The events of 9/11 have been tackled on film before, but rarely has the subject been captured with as much heart and artistic ingenuity as in will. Crafted as a Cal Arts project by the staggeringly talented Eusong Lee, will is an authentic visual and emotional experience—as beautifully rendered as it is moving. The tragedies on 9/11 have had a profound effect on so many people, yet Lee has the courage to isolate the experience to that of a simple story: a young girl who just wants her father back. And, so, in the specific, the telling becomes universal. Like a beautifully rendered children’s book, will is a poignant concert of lines, shapes, and color that speaks to all.
Best Experimental 3D—I, Pet Goat II
We here at Short of the Week are huge proponents of the idea that true innovation starts in the short form. If there was ever an example best suited to prove this hypothesis, I, Pet Goat II would be it it. A surreal, interpretative dance of visual wizardry, the film is a complex mishmash of ideas, emotion, and stunning imagery. This isn’t just a short—it’s an experience, an evolution of a genre, a push towards something bold, big, and different. Yup, I, Pet Goat II doesn’t play by the rules—it’s writing a whole new playbook.
Best Calling Card—Ruin
I’m calling 2012 the year that launched a thousand science fiction studio greenlights. At the front of the pack was Ruin—a driving, intense 8 minute short from Wes Ball and the team at Oddball Animation. Although it’s light in the story department, Ruin is a master class in the art of the feature pitch—beautifully rendered, thrilling to watch, and most important, expertly designed to leave you wanting to more. This is further validation that the game is, in fact, changing—that small animation teams when presented with the right talent and tools can produce visuals that rival anything you might see on the big screen. Now, it’s time to just sit back and enjoy the feast of talent to come.