When I Am King by Sverre Fredriksen

This is a new stop motion video that uses an old wood burning technique called pyrography. It was directed by Sverre Fredriksen, a young animator from Norway who has settled in Amsterdam, who soldered ten tons (or thereabouts) of timber to create the images — averaging five hours of work per second shown. Everything was done analog, nothing digital. You can watch a making-of video here. It was produced by Yellow Submarine, a sister company of SubmarineChannel. The song is by Dutch singer songwriter Tim Knol from his fist album.

(Thanks, Remco Vlaanderen)


  • http://spitandspite.com abe

    Great stuff…

    Still, I can’t help but be curious as to what people would think if I uttered the simple phrase “work smarter, not harder”.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    That’s an insane amount of work. I hate to say it, but if I had just seen the video without knowing how it was made I would of thought it was done with after effects with scanned textures and artwork..but it takes real balls to use such a time consuming technique none the less.

  • http://www.elmwoodproductions.com Jon from Elmwood

    Wow. Just wow…!

  • Chris S

    What an amazing work of art!

    I agree with abe with work smarter, not harder when applied to approaches for commercial work, but maybe a simpler technique would have been much less enjoyable and inspiring for the artist as clearly this piece is a labor of love.

    And what would have been simpler, and looked just as nice? The line work on the wood is so clean, any kind of ink or marker would have bled along the wood grain. If it were done in After Effects the imperfect cutouts, change in wood grain, and the way the pieces between the replacement pieces caught the light differently would have been stale and rigid.

    I think the hand made quality is very evident. The simpler the artist could have thought, is equivalent to how much less charming this piece would have been.

    10 tons of timber? I find that kind of hard to believe, perhaps an exaggeration? I’d believe 1 ton, but 10?? I really don’t think so. There are surely a lot of replacement parts to this film, but they look too thin and small to total the weight of about 3 or 4 full grown elephants.

  • http://www.milowerx.com Mike Milo

    Wow! Talk about a labor of love! Very nicely done but crazy as hell! I disagree with Chris… I don’t think it would have been much different to the average eye if it had been done in After Effects or Maya. Maybe to an animator looking for subtleties but to everyone else I’m not so sure. A whooooollle lot of work but not much point other than it’s cute, and all that work to get that reaction? I dunno if it was worth it but then it was not my baby and if the guy feels satisfied then I guess it was.

  • Shawn Jackson

    Everything about this is beautiful.

  • Bob Jenkins

    Um, the description states that it is “not digital and all analog”, yet the camera they are shooting with in the making of is a RED digital video camera? I am not trying to be the digital police here, but I think that makes it pretty digital. I saw the making of and I assume that it was not man-handled in After effects etc… and thats what the non-digital comment was about.

    Anyway, cool animation.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    Five hours for one finished second isn’t all that way out of line with other refined techniques. Getting that look in CG wouldn’t necessarily be faster.

    I suspect most of the nuance of the real wood look is lost at internet resolution.

    I hope they shot it at HD res and it gets a chance to be seen that way.

    And I hope there weren’t really ten tons of wood used up for this.

  • http://blissfulignorance551.deviantart.com/ A.J.

    ten tons of wood……..not worth it.
    great craft, truely. but now i know who to thank when my asthma works up.

  • http://www.submarinechannel.com Remco

    HD version is on Vimeo. I’ll ask Jerry to replace the link.
    http://vimeo.com/11862156

    Robcat2075: The red camera was used to shoot a live action scene, which was not used in the final edit of the video. Sverre captured the stills with a digital SLR and edited on a computer, obviously. “Everything was done analog” refers to the process of animating. There was no digital post processing or even color correction as I understand it.

  • http://www.dancinglineproductions.com anik

    Agree with Chris S, hardly anything simulated can have exactly the same effect as the natural. It may look almost the same, but it won’t feel quite the same, both for the making and viewing experience. Sometimes the medium itself can guide you in the artistic process, and its natural limitations help to stay on the right path. So, having the time and conditions, why not to chose a technique that feels the most inspiring, interesting and right for the project, instead of thinking how to cut corners.
    Very charming work!

  • http://www.stopmotionworld.com SMW

    I love this piece, I know it was an incredible amount of work, but I feel it payed of, i just think it looks amazing, and the burned wood gives it this warm quality to it.
    Love it!

  • http://pixeltoon.com Gina Kamentsky

    A beautiful piece. I feel it’s important to recognize that technique is not just the surface of a work but leads to outcomes regarding timing and narrative. Working with After Effects I don’t feel the piece would have evolved the same way.

  • mick

    it looks great… i have no clue as to the technique but it has real charm and style. Three thumbs up

  • Steve Gattuso

    I love it. The efforts to make this show through in every second of the short.

    (I’m pretty sure Jerry was having sport when he said ten tons, gang…)