“The Backwater Gospel”

Backwater Gospel

The Animation Workshop, a school in Viborg, Denmark, has posted this year’s crop of student films onto their Vimeo page. The school has embraced the model of successful French animation schools, like Gobelins and Supinfocom, that encourages students to work in teams. Like those schools, the Workshop’s films exhibit the same strengths (incredible production values and technical craftsmanship) and weaknesses (stories lacking point of view and personal voice).

I haven’t watched all of The Animation Workshop’s graduation films yet (the program is 3-1/2 years hence the mid-year debut of these films), but among the ones I have seen, The Backwater Gospel is a visual standout. The film offers a fresh look that I haven’t seen before, although Luis Cook’s The Pearce Sisters could be considered a stylistic forefather.

The Backwater Gospel filmmakers–there’s eight of them–made a sincere attempt at stylization, not only in how they textured the characters and used flat lighting, but how they fused that together with a restrained style of movement that doesn’t immediately yell out, “I’m CG!” In particular, I love the stylized mouth shapes of the hobo character, which have a nice sculpted look.

Drenched in grim atmosphere, every frame looks like a fully rendered illustration; the effect of seeing the characters move through space so effortlessly appeared jarring at times because my eyes didn’t expect to see illustrations moving like this. Terrific use is also made of Flash, which is seamlessly integrated into the CGI.

Bo Mathorne – Director
Arthur Gil Larsen – Animation Lead
Mads Simonsen – Technical director
Thomas Grønlund – Animator
Rie Nymand – Animator
Esben Sloth – Art Director
Martin Holm-Grevy – Environment lead
Tue Toft Sørensen – Animator

Music composed and performed by:
Sons of Perdition

Voice actors:
The Tramp: Zebulon Whatley
The Minister: Lucien Dodge
Bubba: Phillip Sacramento
Towns people: Laura Post

Michelle Nardone – Production supervisor
Katrine Talks – Production supervisor
Jessie Roland – Animation supervisor
Christian Kuntz – Animatic supervisor
Patrick Voetberg – Editing supervisor
Sunit Parekh-Gaihede – CG supervisor
Jared Embley – Rigging supervisor
Thomas Christensen – Sound supervisor
Svend Nordby – Technical supervisor

Peter Albrechtsen – Sound design consultant
Michael Valeur – Story consultant
Andrew Harris – CG Consultant
Mads Juul – Animatic consultant
Saschka Unseld – 3D animatic consultant
Anna Kubik – 3D animatic consultant
Jericca Cleland – Story consultant
Marec Fritzinger – Design consultant
Tomm Moore – Design consultant
Lawrence Marvit – Design consultant
Niels Bach – Background consultant

(Thanks, Justin Goran)

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