A Light Without Flame
STUDIO / DESIGNER
Cian Hogan Design
Animated Short Film
Matt Kidd – Music
Kya Bliss – Movement Artist
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
This short film was created for Houston based neo-classical composer Slow Meadow and his track ‘A Light Without Flame’.
The movement of dancer Kya Bliss was used as a focal point for the animation, using recordings of her interpretive dance to create forms and visual compositions which interacted with the music.
The main challenge was finding a way to balance the contrasting styles of media that were incorporated. It features cel animation, painterly rotoscoping and geometric motion design, which proved to be difficult when pieced together. The goal was to achieve a gestalt between this elements so they worked in tandem while also contrasting each other.
How the brief was fulfilled
The workflow was quite experimental and involved some steep learning curves for me personally. Fortunately I had room to make mistakes and try out things I normally wouldn’t have time or scope for on an ordinary project and was given significant latitude by the artist who commissioned the film.
The music informs the movement of the dancer and the cadence of animation, with different tonality used to align with the changing moods of the sound as it progresses. From the quick synth notes at the beginning, through to the long sweeping strings and finally settling on minimal ambience as the sounds come to rest. The pacing of the animation is constructed to match this natural arc in the song, much like the three act structure of a play.
A number of photographic texture sequences have also been used, which feature elements from my surroundings while the animation was being created. These include clouds, stone and foliage from the West of Ireland cut in quick succession and peppered through certain areas of the animation. The colour scheme was also drawn from this, using tones from the sky, greenery and rock formations of the Burren, where I was based while working on the project.
The result is a film that strikes a balance between digital and analog which was the aim in terms of style – mirroring the mix of instrumentation in the song, the electronic synths blended with traditional piano and violin.
The designer took risks by combining cel animation, rotoscoping, geometrics, and photographic textures in an experimental workflow. Rather than painting out a story purely based on the narrative, the designer aligned with the dancer’s movements, fluctuating mood, and pace of the song, showing thoughtful attention to detail."