Monday, February 17, 2014

Short Subject: Bead Game (1977)



A film released under the National Film Board of Canada done by Ishu Patel and all I really have to say is wow just wow.

 I can barely find words to describe this short film.  It is truly amazing.  The colours, the animation, the use of music, the building up of complexity in the images as the film progresses it is all so wonderful to watch.  The images are colorful and richly detailed, and the subject matter is interesting too, showing the progression of life from simple line movement up to full human predator prey interactions.  And all of it is done with thousands of individual beads hence the name of the short.  Even the final images tie back into the title of the film because at the end of the short there is a figure holding an atom within cat’s cradle, which is a game.  For the figure the life we just witnessed, with all its growth, death, beauty, and destruction is indeed a game.

I can’t even imagine how long it took Patel to do this since the style of this short uses object animation. Each bead would have had to be moved one at a time frame by frame to make figures appear, disappear, perform metamorphosis, and move fully.  In traditional 2D animation I could make a figure walk one step in 24 frames and use only 12 drawings if I did it on two’s.  Here not only would the figure have to move correctly in those frames each bead would have to move mere millimeters in each frame and in sequence with every other bead or it won’t look right.  Also a lot of the movement is timed to the music, further increasing the complexity and the amount of planning that has to go into this to make it look so wonderful.  The amount of patience and dedication this project had to have taken is insane.

To conclude this short film is really a delight to watch.  It is amazing in all its aspects from its subject matter to the music, and it is a great achievement that showcases the great scope and imagination that can be brought to this style of animation.

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