There’s a new stop motion short film to be released in 2016, enigmatically titled ‘Deer Flower.’ Its creators, Kangmin Kim and Seulhwa Eum, are the founders of Studio Zazac, the Los Angeles based award winning animation and design studio. A previous film, 38-39°C was screened at Sundance and gives a hint of the aesthetic and texture of the duo’s cinematography.
For the upcoming short film, the team at Studio Zaza wanted to add more dimension to the paper cut out character type they had created for 38-39°C. To that end, they decided to 3D print the bodies for the characters. However, once the figures were printed, Kim found himself dissatisfied with the materiality of the surface:
“I hated the plastic surface and I wanted to create a hand made quality to it. So, I decided to put water color paper and other materials on the 3D printed puppet, thereby giving it the dimensionality without sacrificing the surface.”
Aside from the application of surface materials, all of the characters and props for the film were 3D printed. The design of the characters began in the traditional iterative manner from sketches with pen and paper to finished 3D modeling in Maya. Once the models were ready to be turned from digital to physical, Kim used the MakerBot Replicator 2 to fabricate the puppets.
Aside from the interest in adding dimensionality to the puppets, Kim explained that a driving factor in the decision to use 3D printing is because he had to build the majority of the puppets and props by himself without access to big machines, a wide variety of tools, or a lot of space.
The story behind Deer Flower is very difficult to ascertain from the preview; it most definitely has ominous undertones but whether or not the parents are zombies, gangster robots, or simply concerned with the dermatological needs of their adolescent son, it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off of the screen.
The two-dimensional nature of the surface applications create an interesting visual tension with the 3D construction of the characters. The angularity of the faces make the underlying geometry intentionally appear more mechanized and clearly references the other worldly nature of Korean art woodcuts and block prints.
Stop motion film making is uniquely technology oriented, but still a hands-on means for creating films. By shortening the amount of time necessary for the production of the puppets, more time was available for their surface articulation and to undertake the careful and minute motions necessary to produce a seamless whole.
After having watched 38-39°C I’m not certain that seeing the full length version of Deer Flower will be an ‘aha’ moment, but rather a slow unfolding of meaning and shadows of interpretations that shift in and out of the half light and steam. In other words, this will be a piece to chew on rather than to swallow whole, but that’s probably the best way to savor the taste. Let’s hear your thoughts on this rather unique method of film making in the Deer Flower forum thread on 3DPB.com.