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What are all those paint men digging? - 'Junkyard'

Every Monday or so, Chris Robinson asks an animator how they made a particular film. This week: Hisko Hulsing discusses Junkyard.


'Junkyard' by Hisko Hulsing

So, how’d you make this?

I painted all backgrounds with oil paint on canvas. The characters were all drawn digitally in TVPaint, using clay heads and live-action for reference. Some of it is rotoscoped, but heads and faces are not. I spend a lot of time animating the shadows of the characters with a pressure-sensitive watercolor-like brush in TVPaint, to enhance the merging of the characters into the painted backgrounds. There´s also some 3D animation in it. Polder animation texture mapped my paintings on 3D objects in order to be able to move them or see them from multiple angles.

Why this technique?

I prefer the organic look of real oil paintings over digital ones and it is more fun to make them.

I know that many animators look down on rotoscoping, but using live-action as reference was really a choice that was based on the serious nature of the story that I wrote and on the fact that my drawing style had become so realistic that it was extremely hard to animate it frame by frame without reference. I never regretted it a bit.

How long did it take?

Six years. It was extremely laborious and we didn´t have enough money to hire many people, so I did most of it myself. Polder Animation did the 3D animation,  2D animator Stefan Vermeulen and about nine interns that all worked on it for 3 to 6 months.

But I agree with you and the rest of the world. Six years is too long for an eighteen-minute film.

What was the most challenging part of the process?

Making sure that the story would work. I made sure that I got feedback from people in different stadia and eventually the story did work well, so I believe.

Was it worth it?

I think so. Junkyard was pretty successful and I can still watch it.
I must have seen the film over a hundred times on festivals etc. and apart from some minor irritations, I am still proud on a lot of things. Not in the least on the fact that I composed and arranged the orchestral score myself. 

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.