What was once a royal military barrack in Viborg, Denmark, is now one of the most dynamic animation hubs in Europe. The complex is home to Arsenalet, a campus of more than 30 businesses focused on the visual industries. Every year, it plays host to the Viborg Animation Festival, the biggest event of its kind in the country. At the heart of it all is the cluster of courses and residencies that make up The Animation Workshop (TAW), a school with a consistent track record in interesting, boundary-pushing works.
Almost all of TAW’s bachelor graduation works from 2019 are now online — interestingly, three of them have earned Staff Picks on Vimeo, which indicates that they have caught the Vimeo curators’ attention.
The six films, made by groups of students rather than individuals, make for an intriguing collection. They range across a variety of visual styles, from the cg stop-motion pastiche of Forglemmegei (Forget-me-not), a sweet portrait of a friendship’s final days, to the restless multimedia mash-up of Deepness of the Fry, which meditates on what it means to be original — and whether that’s even a desirable quality.
Fantasy and surrealism run through many of these works. In Desert, a young woman drifts through a sandy dreamscape that could be from a film by Jean-François Laguionie. Animals is more nightmare than reverie: stranded on a runaway train, commuters swiftly descend into a primitive orgy of violence, then something far stranger.
There is a seventh short, Tom Has a Plant, that has not been posted online, as well as an eighth graduation work: a video game. Burning Daylight was made by 12 students from the school’s Computer Graphic Arts course, using the Unreal engine. The player explores a dystopian environment in a quest to learn their character’s identity. The game can be played for free on the Steam platform.
“We all had no experience with making a game, since the school is mostly focused on animation and films,” one student wrote in a forum post. “So we had to learn everything ourselves. It was quite an amazing experience.” While games may not be central to TAW’s bachelor courses, they have their own strand at the festival, and many companies at Arsenalet are involved with the sector.