A young boy runs away, but realizes that he can’t escape everything.
Animated short (German with English subtitles)
Character & Story
‘LOUP’ is based on the boy character, established in ‘APOLLO’. Forever suffering under the rules and regulations of grownups, the boy runs away – his curious nature leading him to unexpected situations.
Another character in the story is the girl from ‘LUCIA’ and ‘APOLLO’. I’ve slightly changed her proportions, so they both look like they could be in the same grade. She is curious as well, but a bit wiser. They are best friends.
The environment of the film is inspired by my childhood home, Nikolausberg, which is a part of the university town Göttingen in central Germany. My primary school was located at the border of a large forest. We often went to play in that forest, and its beautiful, mysterious nature fired our imagination.
My starting point for ‘LOUP’ was a book from the behavioral scientist Konrad Lorenz Das sogenannte Böse. Lorenz describes his observations on intraspecific aggression in different animal groups. Under the impression of the cold war and the notion that man could destroy himself with nuclear power, his motivation was to find out, if there could be an alternative way for mankind to break out of this dilemma. One of the possible solutions he proposed was humor, with which I absolutely agree.
‘LOUP’ is not about this book, but it gave me the idea to tell a story in which the characters have to deal with aggression and find out its meaning. It was important to me that there is no good or bad.
For this project, I decided to do hand-drawn animation again (which I had wanted to do for ages!). Drawings have an inherent quality that enables the viewer to complete an impression in their own minds, while actually just being a bunch of lines on paper. This abstract nature distinguishes drawn animation from computer animation, which may be described as self-contained. I appreciate computer animation for a lot of things, especially in the ability to convey very subtle facial nuances. Ultimately however, due role of the boy as an observing character, I realized that using computer animation would be a better way for me to get the nuances of his movements right. I also wanted to try out some new features for creating the forest and atmosphere. In the end, I went for the best of both worlds, a hybrid, consisting of computer and drawn animation.
Drawn animation was a good way to integrate the violent scene into the story, without being eerie. Bert Gottschalk, my atelier colleague, animated the shots with the deer and the wolf. His incredible drawing skills make them one of the key moments in the film.
As always, the storyboard took several stages to turn the idea into the film. It was irreplaceable for all communications and was almost always the fastest way to try out new ideas.
It was a big challenge for me to get the aesthetics of CGI to harmonize with the drawn animals. Part of the concept was to reduce background colors, using only lighting for colorization. Most of the background models and textures were generated procedurally. This enabled me to test different styles and create a graphic, yet detailed environment. I used drawings as textures wherever it made sense to me. The shading and lighting setup is a mix of photo-surrealistic and more abstract elements. For certain parts of the scenes, as well as the characters, I used ray traced and point-based illumination techniques.
Because I had a only a small number of processors and rendering licenses available, I used light baking wherever I could, to reduce rendering time. RenderMan was useful for implementing lots of geometry, displacements and camera effects, like motion blur and depth of field. The volume effects were achieved by creating a mixture of static 3D fluids with projected textures and transparent planes, arranged in depth.
Much of the final look was achieved in compositing, using Nuke. As the story is set on a sunny early morning, I wanted to use lens flares for an atmospheric effect. Because I had a specific vision of what it should look like, Dennis Rettkowski developed a gizmo, which I used for my Nuke scripts for animating this effect. He also provided particle and volume simulations from Houdini, which were then integrated, using deep image renderings.
Even though I used my own characters again, almost every part of the procedure was different from my previous films. For instance, I wanted to try out dialogue with these characters that hadn't spoken priorly. I wanted dialogue to signify the film’s reality, while the fantasy would do without. For the technical process, this meant that the rig for the girl had to be redone completely. Her character setup had been designed for ‘LUCIA’, which at this point had been thirteen years ago. There was not enough functionality in the face to let her speak, and her proportions had to be altered so to harmonize with those of the boy. Two students of mine contributed the voices for the boy and the girl. Their understanding of the characters and sense of timing helped a lot during the recording session.
‘LOUP’ took two years to create. I planned it to be compatible with my occupation at the Film University. This was only possible due to my great team and the invaluable support from my friends and family. I was shocked when I got the message that my friend and animator Martin Freitag had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. He had been scheduled for several shots. Fortunately, he survived and is back on his feet again, and is rocking the walking stick. Another miracle is Anton, our production baby. He was born right after finishing the film. He definitely has a good sense of timing!
Story & Pictorial Design
Rendering & Compositing
Music & Re-Recording
Klasse 5a Reinhardswald-Grundschule
Length 4’22” min
Format 1:2,39 | 2K DCP & Blu-ray | color | 24 fps | Dolby Digital SRD | CG & drawn animation | German dialogue (English and French subtitle versions available)
- German Federal Film Board (FFA)
Production & Festival Correspondence