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Vimeo Spotlight (Part I): Animated Shorts

March 30, 2014 | 6:11pm EST

Everyone knows where they can watch videos of cats playing the piano or children on anesthesia highs, but where can we find high quality, high definition videos that are tastefully curated and bursting with creativity? Enter: Vimeo. As a beacon for budding filmmakers and artists, the website is a hub of visionary videos that have been picked up by SXSW, handpicked by the Vimeo staff, or just enjoyed by the online community. This article focuses on three films that spotlight the power of animation.

To This Day | link

Based on a spoken word poem by Shane Koyczan, “To This Day” is a film project that sheds light on the lasting effects of childhood bullying. With 84 animators and motion artists on board to volunteer their talents – whether it be in claymation, two-dimensional animation, cut-out animation, or other styles – the 8-minute film is the definition of art for a cause. Every line is brought to life with every clip and all of the 22 clips seamlessly transition from one to another. It’s a powerful film, one that not only gets its point across, but also showcases the extent of creativity in film, which is basically endless.

I Met the Walrus | link

“I Met the Walrus” was created by James Braithwaite and directed by Josh Raskin, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008, and won an Emmy in 2009. The film is centered on an interview recorded by a 14-year-old Beatles fan named Jerry Levitan in 1969. Determined to land an interview with John Lennon, he snuck into the rock star’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced the Beatle to participate in the interview, catching it all on a reel-to-reel recorder.

Mixing original illustration with vintage photographs, Braithwaite brings animated life to Lennon’s words on revolution, peace, and the role of the youth at that time. The commitment to the original recording is also astounding and extremely humbling, especially when we can hear the room’s telephone ringing, Lennon have another conversation with someone else in the room, and for the late Beatle to exchange goodbyes by saying “Peace.”

Swing of Change | link

Created by a team of four graduate students, “Swing of Change” is a short film that explores the themes of racism and change through the power of music. Its main character, a barber, is stuck in the past, cutting the hair of only white customers and listening to military music despite the city’s burgeoning jazz scene. After getting into a scuffle with a black jazz musician outside of his shop, he snags the musician’s trumpet, which he discovers to have magical powers.

The animation’s attention to detail is astounding – from the grit on the bottom of the barber’s shoe to the shine on the graphophone’s needle, “Swing of Change” is not to be taken lightly. The students’ ability to capture the camera technique of focusing in and out on certain objects and characters shows learned expertise. And with a strong plot and a three-dimensional main character, the short is as gold as the magical trumpet itself.

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