Short Animations: Western Spaghetti & Pixels & Pigeon Impossible & Bottle


‘Western Spaghetti’

PES is the pseudonym of Adam Pespone, and if I hadn’t already told you his real name 6 words in, you’d assume we had another artist with an identity crisis alla Banksy on our hands.

However, Adam is a 36-year-old from New Jersey with an English degree and no prior film making experience whatsoever, merely a graduate job at an advertising agency and a quirky knack for visual double entendres, that aren’t indecent. What do I mean? Post-it notes are butter, two opposing chess pieces are the salt and pepper. The human is the skateboard….

Since his début ‘Roof Sex‘, his idiosyncratic stop motion animation has shot him into film-making full time, laundering an impressive selection of commercials for major brands and earning a pretty penny as a result.

Receiving an Honourable Mention in Short Film-Making at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, ‘Western Spaghetti’ has all the typical ingredients of the PES style, and a tasty meal. He says his films are designed precisely for the internet broadcasting medium, “I wanted to make films that were rewatchable. In many ways, they are designed for a space that is clickable, where you can stop and take a closer look.”


‘Pixels’

Patrick Jean is a 2002 graduate of the prestigious Supinfocom computer graphics university in France, placed number one by the animator’s bible 3D Magazine, in their “CGI Global Ivy League” in 2007. A rank of the world’s top 20 animation schools. Click the link for the full list.

This is without a doubt, the kind of short film I just wish I was able make. The seamless blend of real life with CGI is simply mesmerising and was unsurprisingly viewed roughly 1 million times in 24-hours when it was first uploaded in April 2010. Patrick says, as a kid “I had an Amstrad CPC 464 (the one with tapes) and I began drawing sprites and building my own video-games on it. As I didn’t have the right tools on it, I had to code the drawing software by myself in Basic… That’s how I began as a coder, VFX artist and director.”

Quite rightly, the 32-year-old has since been in talks with DreamWorks, Sony, Warner and most directly Adam Sandler’s production company, who are all interested in developing the idea into a feature film. In a way I hope this doesn’t happen, as it would sap the cool from this totally hip flick.


‘Pigeon Impossible’

Of course you would be totally forgiven for mistaking this as a Pixar short. Is it? No it’s not. No it really isn’t! This little gem began life as a plan to improve 23-year-old Lucas Martell’s skill and understanding of computer animation, but quickly mushroomed into a five-year enterprise with a ‘team’ and a budget of  $10,000, WHOA! not quite…as Martell estimates with a professional team of animators working at studio rates the cost would have soared to around $1.3 million. Now whoa. Though he admits the majority of the budget was blown on the Michael Giacchino sounding music.

Martell says “At the height of production, we maybe had seven or eight people working on it in their free time. Of course, the music was a different story … there were 80 musicians in total and Christopher Reyman did an absolutely amazing job writing that big epic score, as well as the big band theme for the opening and end credits.”

The 5-year-itch was intricately documented in a set of ‘making of’ podcasts, which helped viewers engage in the process and generate publicity for the finished product. Martell, a commercial music graduate now 29, has since been snapped up by Partizan Lab, an animation studio based in the UK.


‘Bottle’

I started so I’ll finish, on another stop motion animator. And another New Jersey type too! Last but not least we have the emotively sombre ‘Bottles’, depicting a correspondence between the unlikeliest of pen-pals.

Kirsten Lepore dwelled on the possibilities of animating a snowman for a university project, and naturally provided it with a sandman counterpart. Whilst the film is visually pleasing, it is the storyline that shines with beauty.

The list of problems during production was endless “The snow wasn’t packable, the sand would crumble past two ft, the seagulls stole my props, my camera remote broke, the list could go on and on.”


-James Godwin, January 28th, 2011

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.
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