Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival continues today with Dateless directed by Remus Buznea and Kyriaki Kyriakou at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, England. The film is based on recorded interviews with hapless twentysomethings discussing their dating lives.
While the concept of animating to audio interviews is not new, with many classic examples ranging from Creature Comforts to The Lost Tribes of New York City,Dateless proves that it can still be an effective creative choice when done for the right reasons.
What rings true in Dateless is the laid-bare honesty and the insecurities of the interview subjects, who clearly feel comfortable being interviewed by the directors. The directors, Buznea and Kyriakou, edit the audio gracefully, managing to introduce nine characters in a four-minute span and ensuring that each character remains a distinct personality with whom the audience identifies.
The film’s upbeat and colorful design, created entirely with digital animation, is well suited to the lighthearted tone of the film. It’s accompanied by a sly sense of visual humor and personality-filled animation (the interaction between the two smoking guys is great). Whether it’s the audio or the visual execution, there isn’t a false note in Dateless.
Continue reading for comments from the filmmakers Remus Buznea and Kyriaki Kyriakou:
The initial idea for Dateless was sparked from us discovering the strange world of VHS Video Dating, where people would reach out to potential partners by recording themselves in what was the equivalent of a video personal ad. We immediately decided that we need to make something like this in animated form.
One of the very first things that we wanted from this animation was for it to be based on an idea with a foundation more solid than anything we had done before individually. This implied that a lot of research had to be done. We both made online dating profiles, posing as the opposite gender, and began acquiring “research material”. This search did not prove fruitful at all. What we did get out of these interactions though were a set of interesting questions that nobody we had met online could answer in an interesting way for fear of not being deemed “dateable.”
We managed to convince a group of very close friends to be interviewed, since they would be comfortable answering the questions truthfully. The material that we got surpassed all of our expectations and at that point we knew we had our animation.
TOOLBOX AND PROCESS
We animated everything digitally, using Photoshop as well as After Effects for compositing. The sound editing was done in Audition, with us having over four hours of recorded audio material in the form of interviews and having to edit ut down to around four minutes. After selecting the audio segments we knew we were going to use, we started animating over them in Photoshop.
CHALLENGES AND LESSONS LEARNED
The biggest challenge was probably trying to structure the animation in such a way as to give each character an arc. We wanted to have the audience sympathize with all of the characters by the end of the film. Despite this being somewhat difficult to do, the process was extremely enjoyable for both of us as we started feeling very close to the characters we created.
Because of this, we discovered something important about our working methods—we can decide whether something is wrong or right for our film based on how much we enjoy ourselves when animating/recording/editing it.
Our friends were definitely the biggest inspiration for this animation. All of the characters are heavily based on them, with us not only being inspired by their truthfulness in the interviews, but also observing their body language, mannerisms, and quirks, and using all of that to flesh out the characters to the point where we thought they represented our friends accurately. What we hoped to achieve is giving the impression that the characters exist outside of these interviews and making the viewer interested in getting to know more about them.
WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS
Hopefully still working together, doing pretty much anything animation related as long as we can make a living out of it and ideally still create our own films.
Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generous support of our Presenting Sponsor JibJab, a company that has shown consistent commitment to supporting young and emerging talent. We’d also like to extend a thank you to our grand prize award sponsor, Microsoft.