Murals at HSLU D&K by the BA animation students

Four students shared their experiences and creative processes behind making some murals at HSLU D&K.

Work in progress – the corridor during the making of the murals

Ella Cattaneo

I had never done a mural before, so signing up for this opportunity was very exciting and a bit stressful, but I am very happy that I took the plunge, and so grateful that it paid off! I came up with multiple concepts for the mural, but I decided to settle on one that didn’t depend too much on the format (aka the dimensions of my chosen wall), so that the organizers could potentially move me to another wall if needed.

I also wanted to depict something that related to the school, so I settled on drawing a crowd of students walking to class and choosing to depict them as animals of various shapes and sizes gave me a chance to play with proportions and composition more. I initially wanted each character to represent a specific Bachelor’s, but I soon realized that certain courses were going to be harder to represent visually than others, and that the lines between various art forms were often kind of blurry, so I decided to just freely assign art supplies to the various characters, and let the observer imagine the wider context.

I transferred my sketch to the wall by using the doodle method: I covered the surface with random irregular pieces of tape, took a picture of the wall, and then overlapped my sketch and the picture digitally. I found it much easier than using a grid, although I regretted not using a lighter color for the sketch, as I spent a good chunk of time painting over the sketch lines at the end… Otherwise, the painting was really enjoyable: I first blocked in the basic colors and then did the lineart, the quality of which varied quite a bit depending on how tired I was. I enjoyed being able to work on it virtually whenever I wanted and being my own boss. Compared to what I usually work on also felt much more straightforward: a wall is much more straightforward than a computer program.

The closer I got to the end, the harder it was to finish the project: on one side I felt fed up with the the whole ordeal, on the other side I had been enjoying myself so much that I didn’t want to be done, as contradictory as that may sound. Now that I’m done, I think that I’ll avoid the corridor where my mural is for a while, as I’m quite sick of it, but once I feel detached enough from it, I think that I’ll be able to appreciate it once again.

Janine Varga

Final piece by Lea and Janine

Lea and I had the honor of painting a mural on one of the walls on the bottom floor of HSLU DFK. We spent many hours refining Lea’s initial sketch and transferring it onto the wall next to the elevator. A bunch of first-year students from the animation department banded together to send in as many applications as possible to secure at least one wall for the animation department. I eagerly joined in and submitted a simple design, which unfortunately wasn’t selected.
However, the plan was to help other animation students whose designs made it to the final round, so I got to assist Lea with her mural design instead.

I had painted murals before, so I explained some basics I knew from my previous mural projects to Lea, but even with all the experience I had, we were unprepared for the amount of work and frustration ahead. First, we analyzed Lea’s initial sketch and improvised most of the sketch directly on the mural rather than strictly following the initial design. We used yellow charcoal for the sketch, which seemed like a great idea at first but ended up causing problems later.

Sketch phase

The first phase of painting was met with frustration when we discovered that other students had contaminated the paints with other colors. This caused the paint to look inconsistent, with darker and lighter shades mixing together instead of appearing as solid colors. This was a problem since we intended the mural to have flat colors only. Consequently, we had to repaint most areas with inconsistent colors, like the orange of the frogs. The yellow charcoal also mixed with the paint, altering its color, which further complicated the process.

Despite our efforts to avoid dripping paint onto other areas, we still managed to do so,
forcing us to repaint several sections, especially during the line art phase. Initially, we were excited about doing the line art, but it turned out to be the most frustrating and soul-crushing part of the process. Although we bought brand new brushes specifically for the line art, we eventually had to buy new ones because the brushes we initially purchased were too big or too rough to paint with. Lea did most of the line art while I stood behind her with three different colors of paint, ready to correct any mistakes. Throughout the process, I took on the role of fixing any errors we made.
In the end, it was all worth it. We were very happy with the final result and learned an important lesson: next time we do a mural, we will keep the line art out of the design.

Lea Glitsch

While I was reading through all the initial information about the murals and the walls that were available for painting, I was quick to choose the wall next to room 079. I‘ve sat in that room multiple times for various art theory classes, so I thought it would be fun to design some characters that kind of “walk” toward the room and try to „interact“ with the door. Since frogs are some of my favorite animals, naturally I had to include them in my concept.

Although I was excited to do a mural, I was also nervous because I had never worked on one before and my painting skills left much to be desired. Thankfully my friend and classmate Jan came to my rescue and we teamed up to tackle this endeavour together.

The sketching stage, in which we tried to bring the initial design from my iPad onto the big wall without the help of a projector, was very tedious and difficult. It made me realize how much I was used to only working on a small screen. Jan had some experience with mural painting already and she was able to correct all my embarrassingly wonky lines. We made adjustments to the design to simplify the painting process and added a few little references to some of our classmates.

The flat painting stage was very satisfying and relaxing (not preparing us for the horror that would be the line art). The only difficulty we faced during flat painting was the fact that many people didn’t clean the shared equipment properly so sometimes old, seemingly dry paint on the palettes would suddenly mix with our fresh paint and mess up the flat coloring.

The line art was definitely the least fun part of it all, it required a lot of concentration and a steady hand, little mishaps would be visible instantly and we needed to do quite some cleanup work with the flat colors to cover up our messy accidents. After some time Jan and I came to the silent agreement that I’d take over most of the line work and she’d stand ready with all the flat colors in case of mistakes and mental breakdowns. I guess after some time you just adjust to the misery of it all and accept the fact that some things just must be done somehow.

Aside from that the overall experience was extremely fun, with Mara and Ella just around the corner working on their own murals. We were all open for a silly chat now and then and seeing everyone’s murals progressing with each passing day was very inspiring.

Looking at the mural now that it’s finished I’m very happy with the result and I’m very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to add a little splash of colour to one of the concrete walls of the school!

Mara Biscioni

Personally, I always really liked the hallway area of our school. For one, because it has a nice open space at its end, and for the other, because the floor has a yellowish tone. I don’t really like yellow but hey, at least it’s a color. Most educational buildings I have been to have dark gray floors, which makes the whole ambiance of the area gloomy. Needless to say, the bar for nice, colorful atmospheres in buildings is extremely low. Even in art schools. That’s just sad. It was about time someone killed the white of this canvas. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.

The color palette was set for all the paintings to give a sense of harmony to the hallway as a whole. I initially didn’t mind this limitation since blue and orange go well together. However, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the given colors, as there was only one main blue to work with. We had a light blue, two midtones, and a dark one. They were all slightly different hues, which made them look disharmonious. Personally, I would have loved to see more confident variations in the tones. Maybe an almost turquoise? Maybe a purple tone in the darkest blue? But that was a problem for later. First, it was time to lay down some Ideas.

Blue and orange immediately make me think of a nice warm light source. So I made a few sketches around this idea and chose the one that would be the most fitting for our nice little space.

Early Sketch

This used to be a rougher sketch but I finished it outside of the mural project. I just thought it looked like the two characters were burning down the circus behind them, which would’ve been a more fitting image for my previous school’s walls.
This one stayed in its sketch form and never got to be anything more but a chaotic color exploration. It would have looked pretty stiff anyway with the four bluetones given.
I decided to go with this one since it featured a lot of people looking at the same light ray, much like all the people in this school have a common interest in art.

Final sketch by Mara

Tere, Kuidas Läheb?

Tere, Kuidas Läheb?

that means: Hello, how are you?

And that’s it for my current language skills in Estonian, an absolutely strange one, which has no connection to any of the languages I already know. Nevertheless, I must admit that it is like music listening to the aberration of the Finnish language. And it also helps to remind me: I am in a new country, I am in the unknown.

Even though this exaggerates the situation, since I am still in Europe and everything culturewise still feels similar. Yes, I must admit, that I was at first a little bit confused and lost in this hyper digital city; had to get used to the digital infrastructure. Coming from the smaller city of Lucerne, Tallinn is a lot busier and there is a lot going on. Not counting mountains, because it’s flat and just straight everywhere you look, but you have the ability to see a clearer panorama of the mixture between Wall Street-like architecture and the leftovers of the Soviet times. Tallinn feels a little bit like a mixture of Scandinavia: a typical modern banking-smart utopian city and traditional Soviet-European antiques. That’s why it feels like a delightful conglomerate of different backgrounds, every corner certainly has a different feeling. The atmosphere of a down to earth Kaurismaki fairy tale in one street, a melancholic Tarkovsky in the other and sometimes the cynical satirical Andersson, when you stand in front of a Ukrainian flag with the tourist tool in hand photographing the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. And in the middle of it all, close to the centre of Tallinn, you can find a quite small stop-motion studio called Nukufilm. So, let’s talk about filmmaking.

The story of my internship starts with an Estonian meeting, a general Monday gathering. Nothing unusual for the studio except having the Swiss person in it, trying to look like paying attention to the incomprehensible language and then having a short introduction in English.

There was not a lot of time for chit-chat, since they are at the end phase of a French coproduction and are a little bit stressed. Pretty straight forward, I got an atelier surrounded by a lot of tools. My first job is in props and so I started working. And oh, how do I like this studio, the working atmosphere is so friendly and from the first day on, I felt treated like being on the same level with all the employees. I think around 15-20 people work at Nukufilm. Therefore, it is pretty small and you get quickly familiar with the people and the working spaces.

After a week I already feel settled there. It feels normal to walk into the studio. Adapting to the work field was easier than I thought. Also holding back my will in creating my own things is pretty easy, I am capable of shutting it down and just do the things I am told to do. I am in this mindset from 9:00-17:30; the usual working hours of the studio; and can easily leave it behind when I step out the doors.

Now everything sounds so smooth, but let’s go back to the start and remind ourselves of the language. The language barrier is and will still be a topic for me. English is not the main language here, also not in the studio. I was surprised when I arrived and realised, that not everyone is good in English as I thought. Most of the studio members have sufficient knowledge of English, but sometimes there are still some problems in articulating certain information. Nevertheless, it worked out well this week, but it also underlines my status as an outsider. And even though I feel comfortable around here, I still have to get used to this fact.

I don’t know the Estonian word for goodbye yet, so when everyone leaves, I just simply mumble a BYE.

Out of home animation 2023

Electricity is scarce, you shower with cold fountain water and the stars appear as clear as ever – Out of home animation feels like escaping society for a few days, leaving all your day – to – day stress over 1000m below.

The OOHA experience started with a little hiking adventure. We enjoyed the view and got to meet all the wonderful people who joined the workshop from all over Europe. After three hours of walking uphill, and finally crossing the “DEATH VALLEY” (which is really just a slightly steeper pathway with some rubble), we had finally reached the Fromatthütte!

There, we received a warm welcome by Elena and Felix. They had already prepared food and cold drinks for everyone, which was highly appreciated. After dinner, we all needed some well-deserved rest.

The morning of the second day, Ewald, who grew up in the area, came to visit us. He told us fairytales about an infinite chunk of cheese, showed us where the dwarves have champaign parties and where the military tested grenades in the 80s. On an excursion through the underwood, he taught us a lot of interesting facts about the local fauna and flora.

Filled with inspiration, we then finally started gathering material for our projects. Some built puppets or knitted tiny outfits out of moss and grass, while others tried to lure butterflies with margarine.

We all embraced and collaborated with our surroundings to create films. Throughout the week, there were several inputs and screenings to spark new ideas. During the process I felt low pressure but very high creative energy. It was like a long needed mental reset for filmmaking.

The following days we got to know each other. We cooked and ate, played games, doodled and talked, and made movies together. The People at the Fromatt were very sweet and fun. It felt great spending time with such inspiring fellow artists!

In the middle of our stay, we went on another hike, to the Seebergsee. As it was a rather hot week, we were all happy to go cool down in a mountain lake. We were greeted by some lovely ducks who seemed very happy to see us. However, this took a turn when they started attacking us for food! Their mission succeeded, when they stole Elenas sandwiches (twice!!) After burying the hatchet with the ducks, we went for another swim to the small island in the middle of the lake, before heading back to the Fromatt.

The trip was a well-timed break and gave us just the right amount of distance from our projects. In the evening, we presented what we’d been working on with a fresh perspective.

We had some vague ideas about what people were doing, since we always surrounded each other. But actually seeing everyone’s progress gave us a new boost of excitement for the remaining time.

The last two days were spent mostly on our computers, where we processed the material we had gathered. All 20 people cozied up in one room and worked to the humming sound of the generator. We closed the last evening with a final screening of our progress.

With that, out of home came to an end. We played our last few rounds of Brändi Dog and got ready for bed.

In the morning, after everything was packed and the hut was cleaned, Godi came to pick up our luggage as we began the hike downhill. Shortly before arriving at the train station, some of us took the chance to buy some yummy local cheese. Then it was already time to say goodbye.

Some of the students from abroad stayed in Lucerne for a few more days. We made some fondue for the full Swiss experience, showed them around the city and doodled together for one last time.

Now summer is over. The semester has already started again, and I’m sitting in my atelier writing this text. The screening of the final OOHA films is only a month away and (although my own film still needs some work) I’m very much looking forward to seeing how everyone’s project came out in the edit!

I hope to carry as much of the OOHA spirit as possible into our graduation year. It was such a great experience, and I would 100% go again if I could! Thank you to everyone who participated, but especially Maja, Elena and Felix for making this so special!

(PS: In case you’re reading this before the screening: Be at the Rex the 26th of October at 17.00 to see our films!)

What the participants had to say about OOHA 2023:

«Out of home animation was the best summer experience! I really got the chance to find myself in this beautiful mountain nature and to learn to understand better my emotions and use them in my art. This workshop really helped me in exploring my boundaries in animation and made me become much more confident in experimenting. But the best part was definitely the people I got the chance to meet. They were all really cool and kind and accepting which made me feel like I could really open up to them.»

«Meine Woche im OOHA in der Berner Bergwelt war das reinste Träumli. Jeden Morgen eine heisse Tasse Kaffee mit der wunderschönsten Aussicht, jeden Tag eine eiskalte Dusche aus dem Brunnen und jederzeit umgeben von ganz tollen und kreativen Menschen. Wie üblich im OOHA haben auch wir Filmprojekte umgesetzt. Dies jedoch ganz ohne Druck und mit sehr vielen Freiheiten. Es hat mir sehr grossen Spass gemacht und ich werde noch lange von dieser Zeit zehren. Vielen Dank!»

«t was one of the most beautiful experiences of the whole year. In the middle of the Swiss mountains, I completely lost track of time and just enjoyed the joy of creating with amazing, smart and funny people. Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this workshop!»

«For the project during out of Home I was in a team of two. That was very nice because we were not pressuring ourselves and just had a lot of fun working together, using the phone to make some pixilation of each other with the wide angle lens (I dunno if that’s the actual English word for it?).

Also It was lovely to meet so many new and awesome animation people from other countries. I really enjoyed the time in the mountains with them:)»

Von kurzsichtigen Krabben zu Ballerinen in Rüstung

Auf einer spärlich bewohnten, idyllischen Insel in der Nähe der norwegischen Kleinstadt Bodø befindet sich eine Gruppe seltsamer hölzerner Kabinen, in denen jeweils eine Künstlerin arbeitet. Gegen Ende des Sommers hatte ich das Glück und die Gelegenheit, zusammen mit zwei weiteren Kolleg*innen aus der Animationsbranche für drei Wochen in eine dieser Kabinen einzuziehen, um an meinem persönlichen Filmprojekt zu arbeiten.

Die Menschen, die ich während meiner Zeit im Arctic Hideaway kennengelernt habe, waren genauso inspirierend wie die einzigartige Umgebung. Da war zum Beispiel Trond, ein norwegischer Künstler, der mir viel über die norwegische Kultur und Geschichte erzählt hat, oder Misha, eine rumänische Metallbildhauerin, deren elegante und tiefgründige Werke mich genauso beeindruckt haben wie ihre Persönlichkeit.

In meiner Arbeit suche ich nach dem Absurden und dem Überschreiten von Grenzen. The Arctic Hideaway bot mir einen abgelegenen und inspirierend schönen Arbeitsplatz, der jedoch nicht an Vielfalt und skurrilen Interaktionen und Situationen mangelte. Es treffen sich verschiedenste Personen an einem von der Welt abgeschiedenen Ort, wo sie sich gemeinsam auf ihre Arbeit und das Zusammenleben konzentrieren.

Das Arctic Hideaway ist eine Residenz, die von der grenzenlosen Leidenschaft der Besitzer und Helfer sowie von uns, den Kunstschaffenden, belebt wird. In Zusammenarbeit mit der HSLU Design und Kunst ermöglichte uns das Arctic Hideaway, unsere Kreativität an diesen Ort zu bringen und in den naturnahen, wilden und dennoch stilvollen und harmonischen Alltag auf der Insel in Fleinvær einzutauchen und uns von ihm inspirieren zu lassen. Jetzt bin ich zurück in der Schweiz und teile meine Eindrücke begeistert mit allen, die zuhören möchten. Ich hoffe, dass ich auch andere ermutigen kann, eine dieser hölzernen Kabinen für eine Weile ihr Zuhause zu nennen.

LuMAA 2023

Another year, another LuMAA!

This time around with air-conditioning. The course and its structure stayed the same, but on hot days, the air-conditioning was a blessing – since PC-stuffed rooms aren’t known for their inherent coolness, temperature-wise. As per usual, we opened the doors of the course to fellow students from partner schools, namely Jirio and Harry from Filmakademie Baden Württemberg, Violette and Robin from MOPA, and Astrid, Sofie, and Liva from TAW. Oh, and us, of course, a rambunctious bunch from HSLU, with first years in the majority.

The location, the PC room of our dear animation department. The students, a wild bunch from all over, eager to learn. The software, Maya, a difficult beast to master. The teachers, a great many with years of experience under their belt, ready to guide us to new heights of animation. So here’s how that went down.

Week 1 – Walk cycles with Yves Ruprecht

Beginnings are difficult. Especially if you have never touched Maya before. Luckily, Yves was there to help us newcomers start off on the right foot, so to speak. He recommended a return to the basics–so we all hopped on a treadmill and shot references of each other. Later, we analyzed our walks as preparation for animating our walk cycles. This task was a familiar one—but this time around, we were able to push them further with Yves’ feedback, be it a vanilla walk or one with more personality.

Yves is not only a kind and motivating person, but also a great informant on everything regarding the animation industry and what to expect as we enter the field. One especially important piece of advice: you need patience to find the right job in this industry. But in the end, that patience pays off.

Week 2 – Lip-sync with Ramon Arango and Noah Demirci

In week two, Ramon and Noah returned to LuMAA–not as students, but as the teachers up front. They told us they were nervous–but seeing how passionately they spoke about the subtleties of facial animation, we would never have known if they hadn’t said so. Two pieces of advice stood out in particular. Firstly, blinks can be wonderfully diverse, and very effective in showing the inner world of a character. Secondly, not every sound has to have its own mouth movement in order to feel believable—a hint is often enough.

“No matter how many years of experience you have in this industry, each new shot is a new challenge … and to realize that was eye-opening. “  – Noah Demirci

Week 3 – Creature Anim: Walk cycles with Lukas Niklaus

Due to a scheduling mistake, Ramon was kind enough to teach for the first two days of the week before Lukas took over. Armed with experience working on creature animation at Weta, the studio behind the VFX of Avatar and LOTR, he was the perfect teacher to help us tackle the quadruped’s walk cycle. Most of us animated a tiger, so he was able to concentrate on teaching us in-depth detail and knowledge about how this marvelous creature moves. Thanks to him, we all managed to incorporate even the smallest details, down to the subtle rotation of the core and the squish of the paws. Alongside teaching, he showed us examples of the impressive professional projects he has taken part in–including work from the studio “floating rocks”, which he is co-leading.

Week 4 – Creature Anim: Body mechanics with Michael Aerni

We all know it to be true–everything in animation is a bouncing ball. Armed with this golden nugget of knowledge and guidance from Michael, we made simple shapes move around. Since Michael animates mainly in a layered fashion, we took it upon ourselves to try it out, with great success. Many liked this layered approach so much, they continued to use it in the following weeks. For the uninitiated, layered animation is a method where you focus first on the movement of the character’s core, and then “layer in” the limbs and other secondary elements. Instead of making one full pose after the other, you slowly build the animation from the core. This has the advantage of making the weight of the character look and feel more believable in less time than a pose-to-pose approach. It is a process that takes a bit to get used to, but is certainly worth learning.

Week 5 – Acting shot with Nicole Ridgewell

The week with Nicole started even before the week began, as we were tasked with finding good dialogue–a quest much more difficult than initially presumed. All recognizable samples (those which are already overused in acting shots) were immediately struck out, and we were sent on a search for our own characters and their stories.  That involved daily observational drawing, looking both into ourselves and at the people around us. Adding all of that together, we pitched our shot and got started. Our goal? To reach IP by the end of the week. IP (short for “in progress”) is the stage of production where, although many things are still rough and need to be polished, the central idea of the shot is already clearly communicated and can be built upon with more work. By Friday, we were fully invested in the characters we had built up over the course of the week, and were looking forward to Week 6—when we would finally flesh out the animation in more detail.

Week 6 – Acting shot with Dan Nguyen

Not only did Dan bring his vast understanding of character acting, but also a calmness that perfectly complemented Nicole’s energy from the week before. With his wise words and insightful feedback, we started to polish our acting shot. It takes a lot of time and a good eye to spot which small subtleties require correction, but with Dan’s help, we made great strides in this vital skill. With that we were learning the last lesson of LuMAA, true patience. It takes a lot of time to go from the initial idea to polish. Every curve is cleaned out, all arcs are accounted for, the small deformations of hands are added, cheeks are squished into appealing shapes … all the small details are refined truly bring the performance to life.

“If you don’t have that connection to people who are actually doing the job, it can seem kind of abstract and distant.” – Dan Nguyen

Ping pong and other worthwhile activities

Unbelievably, we did not just animate for six weeks straight, but also lived our lives to the fullest. With such an amazing cast of characters, how could we not have fun? (Besides when we were screaming at our computers.) We cooked together, had weekly barbeque parties, and screened each other’s graduation movies as well as inspiring films and series in the REX (the school’s mini movie theater). Some of us got so good at ping pong that they graduated to playing with dustpans instead of paddles. We learned drinking games and had chocolate and beer tastings.

The weather was wild, from very cold rainy weather, where the aircon was our doom (we could not set the temperature, so it got rather chilly at times), to scorching heat, where the only escape was the river. We went swimming often, floating along with the current, and even enjoying a boat ride.

With all these experiences behind us, Maya almost trauma-bonding us together, and just being around each other for six weeks, it was hard to say goodbye. But time marched onward, and the experience ended. For some, school would commence again soon, while others had to start searching for a job, and yet others were beginning internships. Before we all went our separate ways, we promised we would see each other again soon, be it at festivals, in the industry, or—perhaps—even at next year’s LuMAA.

Thanks to Nicole, Dan, Michael, Lukas, Roman, Noah, and Yves, we now understand that a fulfilling life working in film is not only possible, but likely. Great opportunities await us in the entertainment sector, and we are lucky to be a part of it in these exciting times! One thing all our teachers agreed on: they are happy with their decision to enter the film industry. Even after 20 intense years of working on big movies to independent productions, they couldn’t imagine doing something different. We cannot imagine anything else either.

My Hidden Dinosaur 2023 – Potsdam Animation Workshop

At the start of February 2023, four 2nd year students from the HSLU Animation department (Alice, Dario, the other Dario and me, Sven) were invited to join the “My Hidden Dinosaur” workshop at the Film University Babelsberg in Potsdam.

The goal of the workshop was to create a short film in the span of five days. “My Hidden Dinosaur” is the successor of “Animation Unplugged” which was led by Gil Alkabetz, who sadly passed away in 2022.
Shortly after arriving at the Film University, we were greeted by Anna Sumo who now leads the workshop. In the morning of the first day, we talked and wrote about our deepest fears – what an ice breaker! In the afternoon we spent an hour animating blindfolded to get the creative juices flowing.
Not only the drawing itself, but already the organization of the workspace turned out to be quite the challenge. Alice worked with wax crayons and developed a way of trying to feel the textures where she had drawn as a way to orient herself. Anna challenged us to implement at least one frame of the resulting animations into our final products.

After this exercise we started gathering ideas for the films we were going to create in the four days left. Later, the students from Potsdam showed us around their massive campus.
The majority of the second day was spent gathering and workshopping ideas around thefears we wrote down on the first morning. I was quite surprised about the fact that most people wanted to work on their own, as we are used to working in teams. In the end, the Darios and I turned out to be the only people who made a film as a group. However, we did discuss each other’s ideas a lot and gave each other inputs throughout the week.

Apart from these feedback sessions everyone spent their time until Friday afternoon fiddling on their films. Normally, the musicians would compose the music to our films on Friday after we are done animating. This year however the schedules of the music department didn’t fit ours, so they provided us pre-composed music on Wednesday evening, which we then had to put into our already half done films.
We spent the evenings going out for drinks, visiting Berlin and enjoying an improvised, but also very cozy short film screening in the stop-motion cellar (sorry for the bad focus of the picture, but look how charming!). On Friday we had our final screening and celebrated the results as well as the time we shared.

Making a film in one week stood in stark contrast to the idents we had been working on until the week before the workshop. It was exciting to see what could be done in a week after we had all worked on 20-30 second projects for half a year.
Unfortunately, ours is the only film currently available online. You can watch it here:

Living Lines Workshop 2020

Diesen Februar wurde zum ersten Mal der „Living Lines Workshop“  – ein Vertiefungskurs für 2D Animation – an der Hochschule Luzern Design & Kunst durchgeführt, und zwar von zwei Alumni: Amélie Cochet und Louis Möhrle, aka Studio PIAF. Wie kam dieser Workshop zu Stande und wie war die Woche für die Beteiligten? Wir baten Amélie und Louis, uns ihre Erfahrungen zu schildern.

Louis Möhrle und Amélie Cochet aka Studio PIAF

“Die Idee entstand während des Filmfestivals Locarno an einem späten Abend. Sie gärte aber schon lange in unseren Köpfen – bereits während den drei Jahren unseres Studiums in Animation wünschten wir uns sehnlichst eine 2D Version der LUMAA. Als dies auch im Sommer nach unserem Abschluss noch in den Sternen zu stehen schien, entschieden wir uns – noch nicht ganz so ernsthaft – einfach selber eine „2D LUMAA“ auf die Beine zu stellen.

Wir fingen damit an, mit unserer Idee auf verschiedene Leute aus der Schweizer Animations-Szene zu zu gehen und waren überrascht, wie viele uns darin ermutigten oder uns sogar ihre Hilfe anboten; es schien tatsächlich ein allgemeines Bedürfnis zu sein.

Also begannen wir damit uns ernsthafter damit auseinanderzusetzen: wir überlegten uns was wir an Infrastruktur und Lehrpersonen brauchten; wo, wann und wie das Ganze stattfinden sollte und wie wir es finanzieren könnten. Ein anderer Aspekt war, herauszufinden, wie wir das Interesse der Leute dafür wecken; wer unsere Zielgruppe ist; was wir persönlich davon erwarten und wie wir die Werbung möglichst weit streuen könnten. Wir verfassten eine Konzeptskizze und gingen auf die Abteilungsleiter des BA Animation an der HSLU zu, die uns ebenfalls in unserem Vorhaben bekräftigten und sofort ihre Unterstützung zusagten.

Schliesslich hatten wir alles zusammen: Dozierende, Räumlichkeiten, Materie, einen groben Zeitplan und einen Wochenaufbau. 

Die erste Ausführung war ein Erfolg – es wurde viel gelehrt und gelernt, gelacht und ausprobiert. Wir haben den einwöchigen Kurs in verschiedene Themen gegliedert und diverse Aufgaben zur Verfügung gestellt, aus denen die Teilnehmenden eine passende auswählen konnten, mit der sie sich während der Woche zu den unterschiedlichen Themen auseinandersetzen konnten. 

Frederic Siegel (links) und Veronica L. Montaño (rechts) machten als Dozierende den Einstieg in die Materie und gaben am Montag und Dienstag Inputs und Feedback zu den Themen Staging, Keyframes und Characterdesign. Weiter ging es am Mittwoch und Donnerstag mit Justine Klaiber und Nino Christen, die Acting, Lip Sync und Basic Animation unterrichteten und den Teilnehmenden individuelles Feedback auf ihre jeweiligen Szenen gaben. Zu guter Letzt gab Etienne Mory am Freitag den Teilnehmenden Feedback und Einblicke in das erstellen eines Tie Downs und in verschiedene Aspekte der 2D FX Animation. Am Samstag profitierten die Teilnehmenden von der Infrastruktur und konnten frei und nach Belieben an ihren Szenen weiterarbeiten. Den Abschluss machten wir alle zusammen am Sonntag mit einer Kino-Session, wo wir die entstandenen Projekte sehen und kommentieren konnten. Wir beendeten den Kurs schliesslich mit einer ausführlichen Feedbackrunde auf die ein kleines Apéro und gemütliches Beisammensein folgte.  

Mit dem Elan, den wir nun nach dem ersten Kurs haben, setzen wir uns gleich an die Planung der nächsten Durchführung im 2021. Da wir bester Zuversicht sind, dass der „Living Lines Workshop“ jährlich durchgeführt werden kann und sollte – werden wir alles daran setzen, eine angemessene Dauer gewährleisten zu können und den Kurs auf die Spitze der Professionalität zu treiben, damit die Teilnehmenden in Zukunft maximal davon profitieren können. Wir haben bereits Pläne für den nächsten Kurs und Ideen, wie wir diese umsetzen und finanzieren können.

An dieser Stelle danken wir noch ganz herzlich den Dozierenden der ersten Ausgabe: Veronica L. Montaño, Justine Klaiber, Etienne Mory, Nino Christen und Frederic Siegel! Sie waren mit grossem Engagement, Kompetenz und Begeisterung am Werk – es war eine wahre Freude mit ihnen! Auch den Teilnehmenden des ersten Kurses ein herzliches Dankeschön für euer Vertrauen und eure Rückmeldungen, es hat uns sehr gefreut, zu sehen wie motiviert ihr an der Arbeit wart!

Die Kursteilnehmer des LLW 2020

Wir würden uns freuen, bei einer nächsten Ausgabe wieder begeisterte Animatorinnen und Animatoren an Bord zu haben, die mit Begeisterung Neues lernen und diese Plattform für ihre persönliche Weiterbildung und Vertiefung in der Kunst der 2D Animation nutzen wollen.

Informationen zur nächsten Durchführung wird es in baldiger Zukunft auf diversen Kanälen geben. Ihr findet den Living Lines Workshop auf Instagram und Facebook, folgt uns dort, um immer auf dem neuesten Stand zu bleiben und Einblicke in den ersten Kurs zu erhalten!

Bleibt gespannt und geschmeidig

Louis Möhrle & Amélie Cochet 
aka Studio PIAF

Living Lines Workshop auf Facebook
Living Lines Workshop auf Instagram

Weiter gehts! LuMAA Wochen 3 & 4

Schon hat die vierte Woche der LuMAA angefangen, und die Konzentration ist nach wie vor hoch.

Woche 3: Creature Animation

Dozent in der dritten Woche war Michael Aerni, der ebenfalls bei Weta Digital in Neuseeland arbeitet.

Zieht euch mal sein Showreel rein, da werde ich ganz kribbelig und will das auch mal machen (:

Mit Respekt näherten wir uns dem Creature Animation Shot an, denn auch wenn wir auf 150 Frames beschränkt wurden, der Workload war riesig… Ich hatte zwei Tiger, die miteinander kämpften, und schaffte gerade mal, 50 Frames auf einen relativ sauberen Stand zu bringen. Aber ich bin trotzdem sehr zufrieden mit dem Ergebnis, da ich zuvor noch nie eine Interaktion zwischen zwei Kreaturen animiert hatte.

Die verschiedenen Farben dienen der einfacheren Auseinanderhaltung der beiden Tiger bei dieser komplexen Interaktion.

Wie schon in den ersten beiden Wochen hatten wir die fantastische Möglichkeit, uns direkt zu unseren Shots Rückmeldung zu holen; Michael war sehr hilfsbereit und hilfreich!

Woche 4: Lip Sync

Zur Zeit läuft die vierte Woche mit Stefan Schumacher, der uns von Pixar besucht.

Lip Sync und ein kleiner Acting Shot stehen auf dem Plan. Ich habe mir eine wahrscheinlich viel zu subtile Szene ausgewählt, denn ich habe so meine liebe Mühe mit animieren diese Woche. Vielleicht merke ich mittlerweile einfach auch, dass ich schon vier Wochen jeden Tag zwischen sieben und acht Stunden am animieren bin, etwas, was ich noch nie zuvor gemacht habe. Es ist also nicht nur ein Vergnügen, auch wenn es Spass macht! Doch wir beissen uns natürlich durch, denn das Lernen steht im Vordergrund.

Wie schon die Dozenten vor ihm hat Stefan uns sehr viele nützliche Tipps gegeben, zum Beispiel in welcher Reihenfolge man am besten die grosse Aufgabe des Lipsyncs angeht. Auch in einem eher simplen Rig eines Gesichts hat es viele Controller, von denen man sich nicht einschüchtern lassen darf!

Stefan nahm sich sehr viel Zeit für unsere einzelnen Anliegen, was sehr angenehm war und uns wahnsinnig weiterhalf.

Wir gingen auf viele Details ein, zum Beispiel welche Teile des Gesichts sich bei einer Änderung von Emotionen zuerst bewegen oder wie man Denkprozesse eines Charakters rüberbringen kann. Faszinierend, was man alles mit kleinsten Bewegungen universal lesbar ausdrücken kann!


Text: Rhoda Berger
Fotos: Leoni Dietrich

Es ist LuMAA! Wochen 1 und 2

Seit zwei Wochen ist nun die LuMAA am laufen, und ich sage euch, die Geschwindigkeit und die Ansprüche sind hoch: Ich lerne so viel animieren wie nie zuvor! Lasst uns doch kurz rekapitulieren, wie die beiden Wochen waren.

Woche 1: Walk cycles

In der ersten Woche kamen K.C. Roeyer und Simon Christen den weiten Weg von den Pixar Animation Studios in Kalifornien nach Luzern, um mit uns an den Grundlagen des Walk cycles zu feilen.

Als Modell diente uns Norman, ein etwa 10 Jahre alter Charakter mit viel appeal. Mit grossem Detailgrad wurde uns der Aufbau eines Walk cycles, also dem auf-der-Stelle-Gehen eines Charakters, nähergebracht.

Es war äusserst hilfreich, diese Grundlagen nochmal aufgefrischt zu kriegen, auch weil Simon und K.C. die Sicht von Pixar vermittelten und wir so einen anderen Ansatz gezeigt kriegten als im Studium. Auch Tricks und kleine Geheimnisse, wie mit einem (nicht permanenten!) Marker direkt auf den Bildschirm zu zeichnen, um Abstände und Arcs sichtbar zu machen, wurden preisgegeben.

Es wurde diese Woche die pose to pose Herangehensweise bevorzugt, in der, wie der Name schon verrät, die Schlüsselposen mit allen Controllern gemacht werden. Danach fügt man die in betweens, die Zwischenposen, ein und arbeitet sich so voran.

Natürlich kam bei all der Arbeit auch der Spass und das Kaffeetrinken nicht zu kurz (;

Woche 2: Creature Walk cycle

Die zweite Woche verbrachten wir mit Lukas Niklaus, welcher gerade von Weta Digital zu Industrial Light & Magic gewechselt hat (Glückwunsch!).

Mit ihm schauten wir uns die eher realistische Seite der Walk cycles an, nämlich einen Tiger für VFX. Wir studierten viel Referenzmaterial und lernten einen anderen Ansatz als in der ersten Woche kennen: den layered approach, die “geschichtete Herangehensweise”.

Dabei geht es darum, mit dem root controller zu beginnen, und das Modell wie eine Actionfigur im Raum zu platzieren. Langsam fügt man dann eins nach dem anderen die Füsse, Hüften, Brust und Kopf dazu, bevor man schliesslich in die Details geht, wie zum Beispiel wie die Zehen auseinander gleiten, wenn der Tiger auftritt. Entsprechend waren unsere Diskussionen auch angeregt:

Vielleicht noch mehr als letze Woche war das Vermitteln vom Gewicht der Kreatur unglaublich wichtig, da ein Realitätsgrad angestrebt wird. Wenn die Pfoten des Tigers durch die Luft schweben, ist die ganze Illusion dahin. Mist.


Die Zeit rennt, wir animieren uns die Hände ab, haben dank Ventilatoren nicht ganz so heiss und kriegen die seltene Chance auf Feedback von äusserst grossartigen Animatoren, welche so ganz nebenbei auch noch wahnsinnig sympathisch sind. Nicht die schlechteste Art, den Sommer zu verbringen!


Text: Rhoda Berger
Fotos: Leoni Dietrich

HSLU meets FMX & ITFS 2018

Es ist wieder Festivalsaison! Wir vom 2. BA, einige vom 1. und 3. BA und Master sind diese Woche in Stuttgart an der FMX und ITFS in Stuttgart.

Mit dem Fernbus ging es nach Kornwestheim, von dort mit der U-Bahn weiter zu unserer Unterkunft, einem gemütlichen Air BnB, welches wir mit anderen FMX-Besuchern geteilt haben (sie machen ihre Ausbildung bei Animation Mentor, haben wir erfahren). Gepäck abladen und ab in die Stuttgarter Innenstadt zum Schlossplatz, wo wir beim Kino Gloria unsere Festivalpässe holen.

Anders als in Annecy muss man hier in Stuttgart nur im Ausnahmefall reservieren. Anstehen und hoffen ist eher die Regel.

Ab an die Events

Eingestiegen bin ich in die FMX mit Shelley’s Eye Candy, einer Sammlung an Animationsfilmen von Shelley Page. Dazu gehörten unter anderen Our Wonderful Nature: The Common Chameleon von Lumatic und drei der Athleticus Shorts von Nicolas Deveaux.

Athleticus – Trampolin Synchronspringen

Weiter ging es am Mittwoch mit einer Masterclass von Craig Caldwell von der University of Utah zu Storytelling – eine super dichte Vorlesung! Wer ohne Vorwissen dasass, hat nun viel zum Nachschlagen (:

Am Donnerstag tauchte ich ins Reich der Geräusche ein: Paula Fairfield, die Creature Sounddesignerin von Game of Thrones und eine absolute Powerfrau, gab einen äusserst interessanten Einblick in die Kreation von Kreaturgeräuschen. Mit klingenden Heilkristallen zum Beispiel brachte sie das frostige Klimpern ins Feuer des Eisdrachen – Spoiler Alert, whoops…

Am Abend gingen wir in die Best of Animation Vorstellung des ITFS, in der zum Thema Idole verschiedenste Kurzfilme aus aller Welt gezeigt wurden, wie zum Beispiel Rabbit von Run Wrake:

Angefressen vom Talk am Donnerstag meldete ich mich für die Masterclass in Creature Sound Design am Freitag an, welche in der Filmakademie in Ludwigsburg stattfand. Das Soundstudio der Filmakademie hat Dolby Atmos! Paula Fairfield beantwortete viele Fragen, zeigte die Stems der Sounds und erklärte ihre konzeptionellen Herangehensweisen ans Creature Sound Design. Ich will mehr davon!

Samstag war ein eher gemütlicher Tag. Die FMX war zu Ende und so besuchten wir das Naturkundemuseum am Löwentor, wo es einen kurzen aber spannenden Abriss über die Erdgeschichte gab, sowie Chicken Nuggets in Dinoform. Yes! Wir genossen die Stadt und das Treiben der Menschen, beobachteten einen Feuerwehrtaucher, tranken Wein und assen Eis.

Nun ist Sonntag und wir verlassen Stuttgart wieder. Vielleicht bis nächstes Jahr!



Text und Foto: Rhoda Berger

Videos: jeweilige Rechte vorbehalten.


Animation Unplugged 2018 in Potsdam!

Vom 22. bis 26. Januar war es wieder Zeit für den Workshop Animation Unplugged an der Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in Potsdam. Ziel war es, innerhalb dieser fünf Tage einen Animationsfilm auf die Beine zu stellen, welcher dann von den Filmmusikstudenten der Filmuniversität in einer Improvisationssession vertont werden sollte. Wir (Aline, Joana, Marion, Igor und Noah, alle erstes Jahr, und Rhoda, zweites Jahr) packten also unsere Koffer und Rucksäcke und fuhren/flogen nach Berlin.

Übernachten durften wir entweder bei Studenten der Filmuni oder im Studentenwohnheim. Ich wohnte zusammen mit Aline bei Maria, einer sehr zuvorkommenden Animationsstudentin im 7. Semester, im Berliner Viertel Prenzlauer Berg.

Doch nun zum Workshop, im Zeichnungszimmer der Filmuni legten wir los: freie Assoziation! Schliesslich musste bis Montag Abend eine Geschichte her. Gil Alkabetz, unser Betreuer für die Woche, las 60 Begriffe vor, für jeden hatten wir eine Minute Zeit, uns etwas einfallen zu lassen. Denk denk denk!

Nach der Ideenfindung gings gleich nahtlos über zum Animieren, die Zeit läuft! Zwischendurch gab es eine Besprechung mit Chandra Fleig, der für die Musik zuständig war und wissen wollte, wie wir uns diese vorstellen. Die Filmmusiker sollen ja auch nicht ganz ohne Anhaltspunkt improvisieren müssen.

So haben wir gearbeitet, viel Kaffee getrunken, Berlin genossen und schliesslich am Freitag Abend mit einem Screening den Workshop abgeschlossen. 9 einzigartige Filme und eine Installation sind dabei entstanden, als Einzelarbeit oder in Gruppen. Hier könnt ihr euch meinen Film auf Vimeo anschauen (es geht um Nasen).


-Text und Fotos: Rhoda Berger-