“FREEZE! – AN ADVENTURE IN 100 FRAMES” by Job, Joris & Marieke
This morning we opened the door for the setting up of the next exhibition in Kuvva Gallery! This time it’s our honour to host Job, Joris & Marieke and their first 3D-printed sequence from an animated loop called “FREEZE!”
The trio is well-known for their brilliant work. Their last animated short “A Single Life” has won 14 awards from various international film festivals and received an Oscar nomination this February. Their latest work “(Otto)” is again the Dutch submission for Oscars this year. It’s super cool to see them taking opportunities to push the boundaries of animation’s principles.
“In a room that looks like our studio, a character emerges from a piece of paper and runs over a table like a madman. He breaks a few things on the table and eventually he jumps into a preserving jar on a shelf. No one knows why he’s in such a rush. All we know is that he doesn’t want to be recognised…
The whole animation is made in CGI, and we used a 3D printer to print each frame. The result is a weird string of characters in different poses. This explains the principles of animation beautifully, without a single bit actually moving. It is a static installation: a frozen movement. If you look closely, you can figure out what happened on that table.” – Job, Joris & Marieke
After much drilling, screwing, taping and glueing, we had a great time sitting down and talking about the adventure of making this adventure of 100 3D-printed frames in a sunny September afternoon in front of our Amsterdam office.Job and Joris from Job, Joris & Marieke setting up the installation, with their respective portraits in “FREEZE!” behind them.
Giang: You made “FREEZE!” for Kunsthal KAdE right? Did they tell you exactly what to make?
Joris: They did an exhibition about 100 years of animation (“MOVE ON…!”), and the only thing they asked was just: “Could you fill a room with something?” That was all. At the beginning, we’re talking about a zoetrope. But then we thought: if Pixar and Ghibli already had a zoetrope, we should try something else. And “FREEZE!” is basically the same idea as the zoetrope, because instead of seeing every frame, you’ve got the whole sequence at once. With a zoetrope, it spins and then you see the movement, and here you have to guess the movement just by looking at it. We consider it some sort of frozen movement. That’s why it’s called “FREEZE!”.
Job: It’s really funny when we were at the exhibition earlier. People came in and started explaining it to each other and we’re just standing behind.
Irene: This might be quite a challenge because you normally work with films?
Job: When making a 3D animated clip or a 2D animation, you don’t have gravity or anything. And that is the problem with “FREEZE!”. Here you break stuff and you have to work with the outside world, unlike the computer that can always undo.
Joris: We started out at the Design Academy Eindhoven and there we did quite a lot of work by hand. Also we did a lot of stop-motion work back then. We used to do a lot of hand work, but now we have an decade of computer work. We’re really happy with the 3D printer now that we can print computer stuff out again. We bought the 3D printer especially for this. So we could finally see how our animation would look like when you could touch it. And now whenever we have a new character, we can print it out and look at it. It’s really great.
Giang: Why didn’t you make “FREEZE!” with an old character but with a new one?
Joris: It’s more fun to do new things. But there are also practical problems with 3D printing. We had two challenges. First, our characters normally have very big bottoms. That’s a problem, because you need a lot of support for this. That’s why the current character has very thin bottom and he goes a little bigger up. Then his whole shape is easy to print. And we have to make sure that he’s in panic. Because if his arms are up in the air, you don’t need support for them. But if he has his arms falling down, then we have problems. You can’t print arms from mid-air. The printer needs to have some sort of support.
Job: Otherwise the printer would drop a piece of plastic and it’ll just fall to the floor.
Joris: Those are the kinds of decision we have to consider.
Job: First we thought we would make a character without arms. But then we thought it was too much. It didn’t really feel like a character of Job, Joris & Marieke. Then Joris came up with the idea with the arms like this and we were like “Oh my god, it’s possible!”
Joris: And then for instance, eyes were hard to make because everything is only one colour. But we had to make sure that you see the eyes. So we decided to do a mask to get away with it.
Job: The 3D printing problems really gave us some ideas and that was really nice.
Irene: Did you start with designing the character in 3D and then made the clip and did the printing?
Joris: I think we did the complete clip first to make sure that we knew all the movements. You can’t print this whole thing at once. So you have to divide it in chunks. Each chunk, for instance, including five characters running could take up to 20 hours to print. It was way longer than we thought.
Job: There was one time we were at the studio and Marieke and I saw it happen.
Joris: When one arm twisted a little bit, the printer bumped into it each time it moved around that area. Then everything turned sort of spaghetti-like.
Job: And the plastic didn’t drop on the right spot. It dropped on the floor and started building something over there.
Joris: We decided to put a webcam on it so that we could see it from home if it went wrong. But sometimes it was like: “It’s a disaster but I’m not going back, we’ll see in the morning”. And you saw the disaster in the morning. It was our Christmas holiday.
Giang: So how long did it actually take you to print?
Job: The actual printing took, I think, two weeks, or three, may be.
Joris: And I think the whole thing with the printing took six weeks?
Job: Something like that.
Joris: It wasn’t really full-time work. A lot of it was the printer doing its job. And also the news that we had an Oscar nomination came about two weeks before the deadline and everybody started calling us.
Job: Quite impossible to finish it!
Joris: That was hectic. We’re really happy that we could finish it.
Irene: Are you experimenting a lot with 3D printing now? Because you’ve just made the animated short “(Otto)”?
Job: It has been finished for a month, I think. We just had a crazy time of 5 months with lots of hard work on that film. We didn’t do any printing. But we just made one test for the start of another film and a character design for a small print. I think for us at this point, we just like it that we have all of our characters printed out.
Jr: And it’s cool if you have a presentation or if you have to talk about your films, then you can bring your characters in 3D. That’s really nice.
Giang: What is your favourite feedback so far about the installation?
Joris: I think it’s what Job explained about others explaining it to each other.
Job: There were a man and a woman walking in. The woman was like: “What is it?” And the guy was looking at the film and… I saw how he was starting to understand it. Because he didn’t expect anything like that. But it was an exhibition about animation, so probably he was thinking in the right direction. When he explained “you see every frame and all the frames together”, it was really fun.
Animation became digital, and the digital became tangible again in “FREEZE!”. Come and have lots of fun with us! The opening is on Friday, September 18th 2015.
Kuvva Gallery, Pazzanistraat 33, 1014 DB, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, NLJoris: “A weird coincidence was that in the last week we were working on this, Marieke got a concussion, which turned out ok. But at the moment, we were a bit worried. In the three pictures, hers is the one that was shaken. It’s a coincidence, but it was really… strange.”
All pictures, except the one of Job & Joris, are by Went&Navarro.