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“A Single Life” The New Yorker Video

From  Staff PicksStaff Picks Created On 21 May 2015


A Single Life - In this Oscar-nominated animated short, a young woman receives a mysterious package that contains a vinyl record. She soon realizes that she can go forward or backward in time by simply adjusting the position of the needle as the record plays on her stereo.

The story behind A Single Life should inspire animators everywhere: a 2-min film made by three self-taught filmmakers within three months at their own small Utrecht design studio, that went on to become nominated for an Academy Award this year. The film was directed, animated and produced by Job, Joris & Marieke who met whilst studying product design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven (Netherlands). The trio were drawn together through their love for films and collectively started to make animations. Interestingly, the idea behind A Single Life was born from that time, “we were listening to Abba’s Waterloo on a vinyl record in Joris’ student room, the record skipped, and we thought it could have been possible that time had skipped instead. The idea stayed with us and about ten years later we made it into a film”.

The film tells tells the story of Pia, who after playing a mysterious vinyl single is suddenly able to travel through her life at different ages and stages all within the space of one song. The team noted that the runtime was the biggest challenge they faced when making the short, as the film was originally designed to be released in cinemas before a blockbuster (which meant that the length could be no longer than 2’15). “We have a lot to tell in such a short time. Five different stages of someone’s life. It’s pretty hard to get all that clear to someone in so little time. That was really the hardest part”.

Beautifully and vibrantly made with Cinema4D, each room is intricately designed with objects and details which tell a story about Pia’s life and character – interests changing from designer minimalist furniture to Buddhism to Nordic walking. As Joris states in an interview with Animation World Network “We really love the type of contemporary character design you find at the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin. But, it doesn’t really have a heart a lot of the time. It’s really appealing visually, but you can’t really tell a story with most of those really weird characters. We try to balance having edgy characters while still conveying a story”. With Pia, they focused on creating a character that was very simple and iconic, yet cute and likable. They achieved this to great effect by putting a lot of time in the facial animation, such as leaving off the ears and the nose and using a hairstyle that can move a little every time she twisted her neck.

“We hope our audience thinks about mortality and that time is always running out. Our main goal was to make a fun film that people could enjoy and laugh at. But, it’s also something you could think about later. There’s enough depth to be more than just a funny film”. Job, Joris & Marieke are currently working on a more melancholic and thrilling 8-10 minute film, which should be ready this summer. We’re looking forward to it already!


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