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"Traveling Through Brush and Ink" - Short Film of the Day

Last year, Annlin Chao – an animator currently living in London who grew up in Taiwan, directed a beautiful mixed-medium (but primarily stop motion) video entitled “Traveling Through Brush and Ink” for the National Palace Museum in Taiwan which was featured in their 2016 annual exhibition. The inspiration and the subject of the piece were four separate landscape paintings from three distinctive eras of Chinese history: the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties.

The four paintings which each scene in the film are based off are:
·      Emperor Minghuang’s Journey to Shu – Anonymous, Tang dynasty
·      Travelers Among Mountains and Streams – Fan Kuan (ca. 950-1031), Song dynasty
·      Ancient Temple in a Mountain Pass – Jia Shigu (fl. 1131-1162), Song dynasty
·      Autumn Colors on the Ch’iao and Hua Mountains – Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322), Yuan dynasty

The piece opens with a two-dimensional traditionally-animated character – a little modern man –  who discovers each of these paintings in a scroll. He is then transported into a stop motion world where each of these landscape paintings are locations through which he begins to travel. The character then begins to, in a way distinct to Chinese artistry with philosophical undertones, transform into many different objects and creatures found in nature (i.e. a fish) through his journey in exploring these paintings, brought to life in three-dimensions. In this 3D world, the character is animated in two-dimensions using laser-cut rapid-prototyping. It’s an interesting concept, both artistically and thematically: that the viewer experiencing a work of art would become two-dimensional like a painting, while the painting itself adopted 3D qualities, becoming the tangible reality.

The idea behind the film, as well, is an interesting choice and one that is somewhat rarely explored in stop motion – art history, specifically of Chinese and Eastern culture.

One of my favorite moments of technical beauty in the film begins at 1:15 into the runtime and lasts for four seconds. In it we see a gorgeous swiveling shot, seemingly around the two-dimensional paper-cutout character as the camera spins around, panning over to a different background, giving the character the illusion of three-dimensions. One of the reasons why I think this moment is so brilliant is that it cannot conceal that the character is only two-dimensional, although (even after watching the moment over several times) the camera and the character within the shot give the illusion that the two-dimensional puppet is in three-dimensions.

The video was posted by the director of the film, Annlin’s, Vimeo page, where you can go to see more of her incredible work. You can also explore her animation on her website, as well as Facebook page.

Here are the credits for the film:
Art Director: Pu Chen
Director: Annlin Chao
Composer: Pi Chiu
Color Design : Kuan Hung Chen
Film Editing : Chia-Hung Lin, Ping-Kuei Lin
Scene Design: Ren-Hao Cai, Jia-Jhen Syu
Graphics Design: Chung-Yang Chen
Special Effects: Yo-Cheng Zheng
Lighting Assistant: Chang Wen Liang
Assistant Animation: Lu Chang, Petula Hsiao, Jamie Xuan, Cheng Leo, Hung-Xie Chia, Szu-Yu Tu, Lee Te Yi
Executive Producer: National Palace Museum
Executive: 247Visualart
Production: XXtralab

Note to reader:
If you’re reading this post on the Stop Motion Geek website, you may have noticed a few changes in the design of the blog itself.  This past week I began to update the blog in a few ways.

The first of the major changes to the blog was an update to the blog template, which replaced an outdated template to a newer, brighter, and easier-to-navigate page.

The second element updated was the pages on the blog featuring behind-the-scenes content from many famous stop motion films. These pages were consolidated into one, main, behind-the-scenes page instead of the prior several individual pages focusing on one film. The new page features all of the films that were previously given their own pages, as well as a number of newer stop motion films that have been released since 2013. For each film on the page there is a playlist of videos and behind-the-scenes resources such as links to articles and to purchase the making-of books for each given film. I recommend going to check out that page if you haven’t already to see the updates done to it.

The third update I made to the blog was an unfortunate accident: I unknowingly deleted the frequently asked questions page, which was just recently updated. That being said, I’m making attempts to recover the page but with little luck, so I might end up having to rewrite the entire page if I can’t find a hardcopy somewhere. Depending on whether I can recover the old page or not (if anyone can help me with this I would be much obliged), the page will be up again in the next few weeks.

Travelling Through Brush and Ink | National Palace Museum Taiwan 筆墨行旅 | 台灣故宮 逐格動畫 from annlinchao on Vimeo.

Travelling Through Brush and Ink | Making of 筆墨行旅 | 幕後特輯 from annlinchao on Vimeo.

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