Considering Simplicity

Our attention has been drawn to two particular videos that influence the way we look at our ideation. We think simple – no politics, no cultural thematics, no metaphors or physiological elements. It needs to be a one word answer – a blob, a spoon, a ball. The video below, created by Ulster graduate Alan Martin highlights significant elements of what makes a good story and good animation.

My major take away from this video is the question: what is this? What really intrigues the viewer is the world and it’s minimalistic characters(?). The action they preform is something you can associate with – going down a slide and ringing a bell. This basic interactions give the audience a lot to consider. Why are they doing this? What are they? I’m curious what’s beyond this world and what works here is how this simple story breathes life on a much larger world. The twisted, surreal trees(?) or some for of vegetation looks very like it’s taken from a Dr Seuss world. It’s quirky, it’s surreal and it plays immensely on the imagination. Robert Chase Jr. stated that Seuss had an ethos of ‘logical insanity‘ (link for full article) in which he COMMITTED to his vision and achieved a responsive outcome.

It suggests to me the possibility of committing to absurdity as the definition of simple. Beans being shot at a bell already stimulates a viewer’s attention without getting too caught up in complexities. The characters have no voice and they’re interactions with the world are reserved to their expressive squash and stretch mechanic.

In this second film by graduate Darren Porter achieves the same success with a more conventional narrative. The world is tradition, the birds are ‘cute’ within the spectrum of what’s acceptable to audience’s sensitives, but it’s the animation and sense of weight that makes this film work. The small bird puts up a fight and we oddly find sympathy for it’s attempts to fight of a bigger foe. The colours are crisp and the single shot composition adds a real subtly that makes the film pure leisure to watch. It’s enjoyable by solid definition which is keep the notion of KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.

When Mike Bithell developed Thomas Was Alone, he was inspired by the minimalist pop art of Piet Mondrian. Bithell’s story focused on the lives of several characters with various behaviours, but he stylised each character as a basic 2D shape. The fact that he was able to generate a strong emotional weight to the basic shapes is what made the game so rewarding to play. You find yourself attached a square with a simple colour. The gamer could associate with their emotions and understand their feelings through the expression of their scale and weight. For example, a large dark blue square is conveyed as depressed because of his literal weight and height. The game highlights how detail don’t define a character and that by giving the audience the right movement and association, they can find their own meaning in the character, thus developing empathy.


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