Created for TV channel Arte, Chronemics by animation and interactive design studio Animade (founded by James Chambers and SotW alum Tom Judd) is a striking and oddly-funny animated short based around the on-going battle between light and dark. Taking classical narrative themes and making them feel both timeless and contemporary with their playful approach, the Animade team have created a film that is as amusing as it is absurd.
Originally broadcast as a series of 14-separate vignettes as a companion to Arte’s short film festival The Shortest Day, Animade’s creative director Ed Barrett told Short of the Week about the freedom of the brief and the process of building one-cohesive narrative from the original segments – “The original brief was very open which was a hugely exciting prospect for us. It offered the opportunity for the Animade team to really collaborate and create the concept, which up until that point was a rare occurrence given we’re often working on separate jobs within the studio. We knew we had to deliver the work in 14-separate sections and that the loose theme was ‘the shortest day’. We interpreted the theme as a play between light and dark; how one may hate the other resulting in a never-ending cyclical conflict fought out day-after-day. Structurally, the individual clips formed a simple narrative without any editing. The one minute book-ends provided a start and conclusion to the characters and their situation while the fifteen-second vignettes formed the playful centre of the story. It was the shorter clips that presented the larger challenge in the edit. A couple of them flowed effortlessly due to similar themes or actions. Others were a little trickier prompting us to create cut-aways that pre-empted the space or theme of the following narrative”.
With a central theme focused on the notion of light and darkness competing for dominance in a world in which they coexist, you’d be forgiven for expecting somewhat of a downbeat, dramatic twist in Chronemics’ tale. In actuality, what we’re presented with couldn’t be further from those assumptions. Feeling like a modern-take on that archetypal ‘cat-and-mouse’ animation storyline, watching the two central characters stuck in this ongoing conflict, I was more reminded of the upbeat universes of Tom and Jerry or Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, than the gloomy scenarios I had envisioned. Seems this connection was something the Animade team had in mind when creating their animation as well, with Barrett revealing that “despite the relatively short production schedule, we wanted to make it a character piece – this immediately brought to mind gag-driven animations such as Loony Toons which sparked the inspiration for the over-arching narrative.”
Created using Adobe After Effects and Photoshop and featuring some outstanding sound design from Mutant Jukebox, with Chronemics the Animade team have created a film that feels like it can be universally enjoyed by all. For the animation purists, its technique and tone will remind them of classic animations of the past, whilst its spirited storyline and sense of fun means it’s easily accessible for those of us without these references. Fans of Animade’s work can check out their on-going web-based mini series called Propz, which features a 20-30 second animation each week and keep an eye-out for an upcoming interactive project which Barrett described as promising to be “a fantastic amount of fun”.