CBTV STUDENT FEST: “Troubleshooting” by Eric Ko

Today, in Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival, we’re pleased to present Troubleshooting by Eric Ko, of the Rhode Island School of Design. Produced as minimalist as any film could be; Ko uses only simple line figures in black and white to take us on a journey, from a routine morning bus ride to a spectacular sci-fi apocalypse, with one surprise after another. Like his slacker protagonist, Ko is a self-assured filmmaker with a sly sense of humor and a fine sense of visual storytelling Troubleshooting has an imaginative premise, superb execution and proves, in this case, that less is more, as long as someone hits the “reset” button.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker Eric Ko:

THE IDEA
What if the end of the world wasn’t such a big deal, and some guy fixed it every now and then?

TOOLBOX
I worked in Flash with a tablet. I’m not sure if the limitation of black, white, and grey was a conscious decision at first, but it just seemed right after a while. It definitely helped me with directing, and it also gave me the time I needed to animate the scenes needed for a proper climax, and some extra details here and there. I always found it to be the little things in cartoons that made me laugh the most.

LESSONS LEARNED
The idea I started with is so different from the finished product that it could be its own thing. I had a basic storyboard laid out, but I always kept the ideas for the scenes kind of vague. I was making up the scenes as I animated — which is a creative process that I find natural, but it became kind of scary at times. As always, it helps to have friends or just somebody to help you keep going, or keep you from veering off-course.

INSPIRATIONS
I was reading a lot of comics by younger cartoonists during the time I started thinking of ideas, going through every MOME publication I was able to find. Because this was my first try at animating human-style characters with human-style faces, I figured comics were a good place to start for inspiration. I watched Cowboy Bebop before I started, and Akira during production.

My violent-video-game-filled childhood helped cement the theme, and I looked to my little brothers for inspiration as well. I was also heavily influenced by a RISD grad named Tom Deslongchamp, throughout the ages.

FILMMAKER WEBSITE:
Eric Ko’s website
Eric Ko on Vimeo




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.


  • D

    Another student film with a very clever storyline and narrative. This short was awesome. I loved the minimal style it really put a strong emphasis on the character animation which was nice and smooth, makes me wonder why more students don’t strip things down a bit. Great storyline and solid style, nice work, this one definitely in my top three for the festival so far.

  • Polecat

    The execution’s not 100% amazing compared to the French short I saw yesterday, but it’s still pretty good. I like the pace a lot. It’s kind of thought-provoking. And I really liked the main character. He’s got that Lemy Caution thing going on. :)

  • GW

    I liked this short. It had an interesting premise, though you don’t really understand it until the end. I’d like to say more, but I can’t without spoiling it.