Today is a sad day because we’re presenting the tenth and final selection in this year’s Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival, but it’s a happy day because we’re debuting the excellent Peter and the Space Between by Sitji Chou, a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Chou’s film–”about a man who tries to understand the futility of creating human connections when they have been impeded by the microcosmic void between material particles”–addresses a difficult topic with artfulness and poignancy. The elongated and sharply angular design of Peter suggests visual distress in a German Expressionist mold, and the experimental effects animation and abstract graphics communicate Peter’s inner thoughts better than any literal character animation could possible do so. The minimalist score and sound design by Raphael Choi hits the right tone and adds another layer of meaning to this thoughtful short.
Sitji (pictured above) shared these thoughts on the creation of Peter & the Space Between:
The process of making this film was really difficult. I changed my mind so many times, and I lost about 4 months working on other film ideas before I finally decided on this one. The change came from an idea when I watched Jumpers, a documentary about people committing suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. There were interviews with survivors who cited that before they hit the water, they changed their minds about their decision. I thought this was a beautiful idea because it deals with an acceptance of the things you commit to, the fleeting confidence you have with something and the futility of trying to change the situation. When you make a decision, sometimes you have to stick with it. At the same time as when I watched this, I was also randomly learning about physics, and was inspired by the spacial void between molecules and people. I thought it was really neat but at the same time really tragic that there is this physical distance between people.
I tried to make it so that each time you watched it, you would see, or hear something different, or understand more of it. At first, it’s kind of overwhelming with the visuals and the dialogue, but when you let the film wash over you, I wanted the feelings of futility and loneliness to translate through. I think my biggest challenge was to make the dialogue not too confusing, but at the same time, complex enough so that it takes another viewing to fully understand it.
Since I lost so much time at the beginning of my production, I needed to find an animation technique I knew I could do quickly and cleanly. I decided to use Photoshop and animate with the lasso tool, using After Effects to do my compositing. The sound design was provided by Raphael Choi, a very talented friend I knew from high school. He really helped me pull it together and we discussed how the more elaborate the images and escapist Peter’s attitude, the more musical the sound becomes.
Fun fact: I watched every episode of Futurama while making my film! My favourite episode is “Jurassic Bark”.
I really hope you enjoy the film! It was amazing to make, and I had a lovely and supportive team helping me the entire process.