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Animating the Beauty of Nature for Les Sommets du Cinéma d’animation

Animating in a foreign country without our gear didn’t stop us from having fun exploring the beauty of nature, making it our co-director and inspiring our commitment to a waste-free stop motion production in the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand.

Sylvie Trouvé animating stop motion in New Zealand
Sylvie Trouvé animating on-location in New Zealand

At See Creature we live and breathe stop-motion animation. We've had the pleasure of working on various projects, from documentaries and commercials to music videos and short films. Our journey has taken us to exciting collaborations with renowned brands like Nike, Hot Wheels, Lego, and even animating on Netflix's "The Little Prince". However, one of our most awe-inspiring experiences occurred when we found ourselves amidst the breathtaking nature of Aotearoa / New Zealand and commissioned to create the festival trailer for the 21st edition of Les Sommets du Cinéma d’animation.

Animating Nature for a Waste-Free Production

Our commitment to environmental responsibility made animating nature a perfect fit for our mission to create a waste-free production. This presented a unique challenge in the stop-motion realm, but we were determined to make it work.

Nature: Our Partner and Co-Director

Sylvie Trouvé animates a series of dried leaves and shells in stop motion
Sylvie Trouvé animates a series of dried leaves and shells

Upon arriving in New Zealand, we were immediately overwhelmed by the diversity, textures, and patterns present in the dried plants around us.

This inspiration sparked an idea - why not animate nature itself? After all, we founded See Creature Productions with the belief that anything can be animated. Thus, nature became our partner in crime, our co-director in this captivating project.

seashells and pinecones for replacement stop motion animation
Nature is the perfect material for replacement animation

The Creative Process

We began the project by carefully selecting the right music - something fun and upbeat that would keep us energized throughout the process. Using this music as a guide, we created an animatic with simple shapes, matching them to the beats of the chosen soundtrack.

Next came the great treasure hunt, where the whole family got involved. Our kids enthusiastically scoured the surroundings, bringing home an array of incredible plant life. Sometimes, even pockets full of rocks ended up in the washing machine - a testament to the dedication of our little helpers.

Creativity in Limited Resources

Animating in New Zealand without our standard gear required some ingenuity. We fashioned sandbags using gravel in plastic bags and relied on natural light whenever possible. On sunny days, we used an umbrella to control lighting conditions, even embracing the occasional light flicker as an artistic element.

During the animation process, we made timing adjustments to highlight the textures of the objects and showcase specific moments. The animatic served as a guide, but we allowed ourselves to embrace improvisation and experimentation in this unique stop-motion endeavour.

Nature-Inspired Aesthetics

Turns out using plant life is the perfect choice for replacement animation, as it naturally provided sequences of change. We discovered a vast array of shapes and sizes in the same object, providing endless possibilities for creative storytelling. We learned that timing was crucial, as we had to shoot the plant life before it dried up too much, altering its appearance.

Shooting under natural light with plant life also influenced our decision to search for complementary backgrounds in our surroundings. From concrete to grass, sand, and wood, these backgrounds added depth and realism to our animated scenes. The aesthetic choice of playing with colour and inverting some scenes was inspired by the music, bringing a fresh perspective to familiar elements and accentuating texture and patterns.

Sylvie Trouvé animating stop motion outdoors
Sylvie Trouvé animating, weather permitting

Limitations as a Force of Inspiration

As the project reached its conclusion, we felt a mixture of joy and sadness. Yet, with each project we undertake, we've learned that turning limitations into intentions is not just an integral part of the process, but a potent source of inspiration.

Animating nature in New Zealand was a remarkable journey for See Creature Productions. Nature's beauty and variety provided us with a wealth of creative opportunities, while our commitment to a waste-free production challenged us to think outside the box. As we look back on this project, we're reminded of the power of collaboration - with nature as our co-director, our stop-motion animation took on a life of its own. We invite you to join us on future adventures as we continue to explore the endless possibilities of animation. Thanks to Marco de Blois and the Les Sommets du Cinéma d’animation for entrusting us with this wonderful project. Santé!

Poster and beer label designed by Dale Hayward
Poster and beer label designed by Dale Hayward


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