What Do You Know About… Tumblehead?
Among the projects that will be pitched at Annecy’s MIFA market (June 11–14) is Rob ‘n’ Ron, a series about a pair of oddball outlaw brothers with an intriguing visual approach. Cartoon Brew takes a look at the company behind it…
What is Tumblehead?
An up-and-coming Danish studio known for its humorous cg animation. Tumblehead was founded in 2011 by graduates from The Animation Workshop in Viborg, and it is still based near the school, with which it retains close ties. It recently opened a branch in Copenhagen.
What works of theirs might I have seen?
The short film Rob ‘n’ Ron, which inspired the forthcoming series, made a splash on the festival circuit back in 2013 (watch the entertaining making-of below). Since then, the studio has distinguished itself with a run of commissions for the likes of Google and Lego. Their short animated profile of Martin Luther won a number of awards last year, including Best Commissioned Film at the European Animation Awards.
What’s special about them?
From their first short Elk Hair Caddis, the studio’s works have all explored ways to introduce zany, cartoonish design and movement into cg. “We love to approach 3d as you would 2d animation in terms of, say, designing silhouettes,” Tumblehead co-owner Peter Smith tells Cartoon Brew. “Especially the old UPA style seems to lend itself very well to this kind of approach.”
The studio has an experimental streak, particularly when it comes to mixing media. The sets in Rob ‘n’ Ron, for instance, are live: the sandbox the brothers inhabit (yep, these are mini-outlaws) is a real one. “For each new project we always decide on a focus area where we want to improve and reinvent ourselves,” says Smith, “whether it be story structure, character design, or diving deep into technical subjects like rigging and rendering.”
What are they currently working on?
Scripts are being written for the Rob ‘n’ Ron series, which will consist of 52 five-minute episodes. Smith sets out the pitch: “The two brothers are very close but very different. Rob is the alpha male type who plans all of their heists, while Ron loves keeping the house nice. They live in a house that’s really a toy that some kids left there. Likewise, in all episodes the obstacles and solutions are connected to the things the children would leave in a sandbox.”
Next up is a new short, Tales from the Multiverse. It tells “a story about God who is a single parent and amateur programmer,” says Smith. “He’s working on project ‘Earth’ but never seems to get a break from the kids. One day, though, he finally gets a breakthrough.” The film will tour festivals later this year – see below for an exclusive teaser.
More projects are in the pipeline, including a feature film concept currently titled Nordic Ghost Hunters. Set in medieval times, it follows a cynical old exorcist who doesn’t believe in the spirits he claims to banish. “He knows it’s all a con,” explains Smith. “One day, while traveling through a dense forest, the old man finds an abandoned baby boy and decides to adopt him. The mystery grows as the boy slowly turns out to be half-elf… The Nordic culture has such a variety of beliefs, superstitions, and folklore that are just screaming to be animated.”