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‘An Evening Meal of Toadroots’ CG Short Available Online

CG animated short film with a stop motion sensibility is inspired by Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer, Russian filmmaker Ladislas Starevich, and The Brothers Quay.

Fresh off its premiere at this year’s Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, Noah Arntson’s An Evening Meal of Toadroots has been released online.

A true labor of love, the eight-minute CG animated short -- comprising a single scene from a feature-length script -- took the Southern California-based independent animator eight years to complete. An Evening Meal of Toadroots features a mysterious Magician who uses both sleight-of-hand and escape techniques to protect his carnival brigade from their former member, the Sideshow Barker.

“I wanted the visual style to have a hand-made feeling, like a digital Brothers Quay film,” Arntson commented. “There is a twisted look in this character animation. The entire picture is hand-keyed, so that gives it an almost stop motion visual style.” “

In preparation for animating the CG short, Arntson watched classic stop motion works from Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and Russian filmmaker Ladislas Starevich. “I staged a tableau of digital character fantasy, using old CG models I catalogued on my hard drive: a witch, a werewolf-looking dude, and even an automaton,” Arntson said. “Crafting them together was like taxidermy.”

Arntson spent 10 years working in the world of feature post production as both an editorial and production assistant on feature films for Sony Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, before enrolling in a local college animation course and buying a home computer to produce An Evening Meal of Toadroots. Using an aging desktop computer with minimal GPU power, the beginnings of an animatic came to life, fleshed out from an indie feature script Arntson had written about a magician living among a traveling road-show carnival.

“By tackling the project as a one-man crew, the breadth of the story would’ve taken decades to produce,” Arntson said. Instead, he chose to select only one scene, narrating a dramatic rise in conflict to frame the characters’ peril of a villainous barker.

You can learn more about the project here:

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.