Mon- Fri 10am- 8pm, Sat& Sun- 10am- 4pm
The official course page for the MSC Animation and Visualisation course at DJCAD states that the aim of the programme is to explore “new ways of communication through visual storytelling”. If you have been a follower of the work of the students at the animation department at Dundee over the years you will be well aware of the quality which is produced by the graduates year after year in terms of original storytelling, beautiful artwork and skilful techniques.
What may surprise about this year’s Masters’ level showreel is the variety of ways in which these techniques are being put into good use. The eight films which have been produced by the ten graduating students demonstrate not only affinity and application but also an ability to work as a team Straightforward animated shorts include “Concerning Dragons”, “Once for a Whole Day”, “Tug of Biscuit” and “News from Now”; each of these films represents a different style of animation and a different kind of storytelling. “Concerning Dragons” (Dir. Kieran Duncan) is perhaps the shortest but is nevertheless complete in its conciseness. Using a brief excerpt from J.R.R.Tolkein and bringing to life his artwork with delicately executed animation, the film leaves you wanting more. Delicate water colour effects morph into a more subtle presentation of the Manga style in “Once for a Whole Day” (Sheng Li) and she manages to capture a beautiful sense of fluid movement in highly skilled and stylised artwork. “Tug of Biscuit” (Georgios Baritakis, Lilly Durrant, Kirti Goenka and Sheng Li) is a cute little film, reminiscent of the famous Pixar shorts, not only in its use of computer animation techniques but also in the style of storytelling it employs. In this category, the most memorable piece is, perhaps, John Harrison’s “News From Now” even though it will not be to everyone’s taste. Using a mix of techniques from stop motion to 2D to 3D animation, the piece is a cross between Raymond Briggs’ illustrative work and Pink Floyds “The Wall”. Contrasting scenes of stillness with those of nightmarish intensity creates an extremely potent effect; the result is as striking and disturbing as it sounds.
Other pieces in the exhibition take slightly different paths. “Mitigating Circumstances” (Tom Paxton, Kieren Duncan and Stephanie Flynn) and “Holographic Music” (John McGowan) both combine live action with animation, the former to create a humorous narrative short (with some excellent acting by Tom Paxton) and the latter to give visual kaleidoscopic form to the audio vibrations of a musical performance. “Research into Digital Performance of Burns”, and “Motion Analysis Lab” (Rebecca Paul) show how animation techniques are being used in collaboration with scientific advance, the former by using forensic anthropology techniques to animate a reconstructed skull, and the latter exploring the ways in which visualising physical movement through animation offer rehabilitative and therapeutic possibilities.
Once visitors have enjoyed the films, they can also walk through an exhibition that documents the development process of the various films. There are beautifully presented design boards showing preliminary sketches, modelling techniques, story boards and the different artists’ particular styles and skills that have in some instances been fused to create distinctive final pieces. These extras also help to give the layman an idea of how much work goes into creating even the briefest of animated films, and as a result deepens one’s appreciation of the craft. Centre space in the corridor displays some of the productions’ accoutrements, such as claymation and other 3D models, sketch books and further designs. This display case is flanked by three computers which further explain the techniques used in the films development.
As expected, results from the animation department at DJCAD are high, and the display is well worth a visit, not just to take in the excellent final work on show but also to appreciate the amount of effort which goes into producing this kind of art.