Way Out – A heartfelt animation about the digital age

Amongst a handful of animations I’ve seen recently, Yukai Du‘s ‘Way Out’ stands out brilliantly. Her use of solid colours and patterns to create motions and climax is superb.

The citizens in the animation are depicted as being faceless, thus emotionless. While this feature contributes to the point Yukai Du was trying to make, it also creates more space for viewers to relate and put themselves in the position of those characters. In compensation for this, their bodies are blown up in size. This helps draw our attention away from the faceless faces, and at the same time, emphasise the light of the phones casting on their users. Those phones! In great contrast to the citizens, the phones are illustrated as lively, dynamic, vibrant beings. This greatly exaggerated distinction is what the animated short is all about, and what makes it so good.

“The strong orange and the bright green are the most significant colours,” Yukai Du shared. “The dark colours help to build up the feeling of a mundane city and atmosphere.”

The star of the animation is the colourful and expressive patterns. Yukai Du used them as shading and movement indicators. They support the dynamism and composition of each frame greatly. Especially with the swirling and overflowing effects towards the end of the short, the patterns guide the viewers’ eyes smoothly from one chaos to another, from one scene to the other. And isn’t it fun watching a bunch of loose textures exploding around? This climax builds tremendous contrast to the catastrophic denouement. Dozens of phones lying around and flashind in an empty, dark, inhabited street. The point was made so well. So beautifully.

Whether you like this sinister reflection on the digital age or not, Yukai Du made the animation so mesmerizingly that you have to think again about your own conviction. ‘Way out’ was inspired by ‘Alone Together’ book by Sherry Turkle, and it’s the graduation short by Yukai Du at Central Saint Martins College MA Animation.

Watch the animated short below, along with sketches, storyboard, and GIFs Yukai Du generously shared.

Sketches:

Storyboard:

Stills & posters:

GIFs:

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