“Second Hand” by Isaac King

I posted the trailer for Second Hand a few months ago, and knowing Isaac King‘s track record as a commercial animation director, I had high hopes for it. Having seen the entire short now, it pleases me to report that Second Hand ranks amongst the most fully conceived and visually arresting shorts that I’ve come across this year.

The most striking element is the visual world that King has concocted through a novel combination of stop motion and hand drawn animation. The world lies somewhere between flat and three-dimensional, and the characters fit nicely inbetween with quasi-cubist faces and stylized patterns of movement. It’s the type of visual experience befitting a larger screen than my laptop and I hope to see it in a theater someday.

The film’s graphic originality almost made me overlook the powerful storytelling, which “examines the imbalance and waste” created by the modern-day obsessions of saving time and collecting junk, which King shows are actually two sides of the same coin. As the film began, I initially thought it was headed for a simplistic pro-environmental creed, but there’s actually a far more sophisticated and poignant message embedded within.


  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    I was hoping for a bit more afer your description, Amid. The style was quite clever, but the endlessly snapping animation meant that there was no character or personality development through animated acting. Just a sameness which got a bit tedious midway through. At least on line.

    The story was also somewhat muddled, though we get the message. It probably could have been so much more, but I guess I’m happy for what there is.

    • Mike Johnson

      Actually, I found that for me, the “snapping” animation served quite well in giving these characters all the character they needed. I agree that acting in animation is so very important, but for me, sometimes you just have to let the animation itself have fun, which it clearly did here.

  • http://altanimation.podomatic.com AltAnimationPodcast

    @Michael Sporn, cant respectively dissagree with you more. I thought it was a perfectly designed and executed. The main character of course is snappy, but you notice the contrast of movement in the neighbors right off the bat. I would say that a lot of animators on here would agree that making something floaty with perfect eases in and out is not a “must” for a beautiful animation

  • The Gee

    Amid, did you mean to write “environmental screed” instead of “…creed”?
    No biggie. It is clear enough….

    So is the film. First and foremost it is a message and not so much an engrossing narrative. That’s not so bad.

    To key off of Mr. Sporn’s comment, the character acting is serviceable in a way that animation in a commercial or similar types of shorts which convey a message can be. That’s not a bad thing. The technique, the comparison/contrast and the way it plays out kept my attention.

    While I guess the short could have had a bit more that wasn’t included, that’s too much to ask for.

    But, to build off of what was shown and included: I could see how the characters could have reacted more strongly to their respective circumstances. The main character, Type A Guy, could have cracked up in funnier or more dramatic ways instead of his clock-work mannerisms (when clocks break it can get messy). And, despite the the Conservationist couple’s laissez faire/let it slide attitude, they could’ve reacted in stronger ways, I guess. I suppose it may have been a plus to have more sympathy for them as characters and not for them being in their respective, yet linked, situations.

    All in all, the message doesn’t hit you over the head and shows pros and cons of a typical situations that are a part of modern living. I’m glad I watched it.

  • GW

    I found it to be a very creative short. I like the succinct graphic characterizations, as it puts more emphasis on the visuals to get the ideas across. It works with the creative, quick graphic montages. If it were any slower paced, I’d likely change my mind.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

    that was rather adorable throughout

  • Mike

    My God…….fantastic!

  • http://www.yetivsgnome.com Moroni

    It was great. I loved the ‘snapping’ animation.

  • Iritscen

    I’m very impressed by this. It’s clear, engaging, and witty. I think anyone lamenting the lack of classical principles in the character animation is failing to recognize or appreciate what the creator was going for here. This is fairly ground-breaking stuff.

  • http://tom-mourik.blogspot.com Tom Mourik

    I totally agree with this film. Nice story, nice message, nice style, very good!

  • Jason

    I laughed out loud at the portrayal of the television. That disjointed insanity is exactly what I see when I see a television playing.