Think Trickfilm!

Initially I just wanted to test the animation of the handwriting in the bubble, but then this became much more than my very first idea:

Watch a high resolution version of this video at

I often feel inspired by the works of my students, but I’m usually too serious about my own work to simply play with animation techniques. This time I didn’t care, and just did it.

I wanted to make hand-drawn animation for a long time, and I enjoyed the process of drawing and shooting the images pretty much. Also, I’m quite addicted to any kind of animation, so I thought it would be nice to give one technique after another a try by doing little exercises, or etudes. I get inspired by so many things that happen around me, that I can’t really stop working.

For this, I drew about 250 outline images, colored them by hand with pencils and pens, and eventually shot them (mostly on single frames) on my old-school and beloved animation stand, my Tricktisch.

Drawing and planning took me about 7 hours, and coloring another 5 or 6. I worked on the outlines for two days two weeks ago, and colored the images mostly in the late evenings when my brain wasn’t able to solve complex work anymore.

There’s one thing about the animation I’m not completely happy with: the single movements aren’t overlapping each other from time to time. I think I could have planned this more carefully. The animation of the character probably look more fluidly, if there’d be some more variations in overlapping or not overlapping movements.

Except from shooting and editing (includes sound), everything is handmade. – I simply love to work with my hands.

Don’t get me wrong: Computers are great tools as well, but there are only few things as lovely as the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, for example…

Have a good week!

– Jessica

19. June 2011 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , | 5 comments

Comments (5)

  1. it’s the way you stress the ‘trick’ in film that tops the whole charme of this little animation… for me…

    the way the character moves it’s head and looks… there is a LOT going on in this animation, the movement – more than one usually sees in a high-end production… and the sound in the background suits it all perfectly…

    The computer as a tool – ask me while sitting here in my rare spare time getting deeper into the whole business of working with computers and administrating and the whole technical shebang-thingee-stuff – to work one day in this field… and thereby support my stuff done by hand… which I will get back too more one sunny day… while still sketching (images/texts/ideas) – I won’t get lost in the digital void, don’t get me wrong; I’m very aware about this and keep my eyes wide open

    But about your topic on your blog here: the animation works out really pretty… will have this images in my head popping up while doing supporting though boring work stuff today… and a last word about computers as a tool: one can easily get sidetracked to lost on this plain – ‘hacking’ it , getting deep into the whole hardware and stuff can bring forth more perfect tools for the personal needs – but in the end: if some helpful hand supports you in this and becomes happy to do so, one (you) can focus more on ‘your own’ plain… I guess… nobody can be perfect on all plains – as nobody can be wrong all the time…

    Oh – and a really last one for today: a pleasure to see you so productive… there is a constant stream on this blog, but lately it seems that high-tide is rising… surfing the big thoughtwave and standing more secure on the board !

    Very supporting !!!

  2. Michael, thank you! It’s so nice to have a fan like you! ;)

    I *am* highly productive, for several reasons:
    I spend much more time in the studio because I think if I ever want to make a living from what I love and do, I’d better work hard for it.
    Also I try to show you as much as possible now. I was hiding a lot of stuff because I thought it was too unimportant or stupid or whatever.
    I gained some more confidence in what I do. That’s pretty much it.

    But thank you for being here though!

  3. That was absolutely delightful!!!

    I love your use of the word etude… it translates to Studies, doesn’t it? But Etude just sounds so much more poetic.

    I actually suspect that these little spur-of-the-moment studies, done without too much planning or forethought, are often more fun, both to make and to watch, and can be far more revealing of an artist’s actual intention than a carefully planned and polished “film”.

    Don’t misunderstand, I think both kinds are necessary for full artistic growth, and I’m finally preparing to wrap up the preproduction and get to the animation on my long-procrastinated film, but as soon as I do, I plan to do a bunch of these little etudes – partly just as exercises to develop my animation and cinematography and storytelling skills, but also as hopefully fun or even possibly profound explorations in their own right. This is exactly what you’ve done here, and I applaud it.

    Hang Ten, surfer chick!

  4. Hey Mike, thank you!

    In Germany we say *Fingerübungen* for etudes. You’re right: it’s a more poetic word for *exercises*, but it also reminds me of little pieces of music you study when you want to learn to play the piano, for example. I pretty like the idea of doing the same in animation: improving my technique and deepening my understanding by just doing it again and again. ;)

    I know what you mean by saying, both spontanious work and planned projects are necessary for an artistic development. I think so, too.

    I had to google “Hang ten”, but I had a great laugh afterwards, thinking of me on a surf board, even metaphorically… :D

    But your support indeed is very appreciated!
    – Jessica

  5. Ah.. thank you.

    “Noun 1. etude – a short composition for a solo instrument; intended as an exercise or to demonstrate technical virtuosity”

    Ok, I knew an etude was a short exercise usually for a single instrument, but wasn’t sure beyond that. I think I was associating it it Estudio, which is spanish for studio (a place to study) and Etats, french for States. Don’t quote me on any of these… they might be wrong – I’m depending solely on my faulty memory here. But I think you’ve found the perfect word for what you’re doing.