The Grapes of Life

September 27, 2022

This month my grandfather turned 80 and, together with my close family, made this short animation to celebrate.

My grandfather owns and runs a relatively small but succesfull vineyard in the Netherlands. I find that the care and hard work it takes to grow grapes equally applies to how my grandfather cultivates his own life and I wanted to convey that analogy in this animation. Though this is not explicitly told in the video, this is actually an alternate version that lacks the original voice over that does make this a bit more clear (poetically) if the analogy is missed. However, just to respect my close family’s privacy I left it out, as well as their names at the end.

After the initial idea was found I drew the images that started to grow in my head, not in any preconsidered order. I was then able to ’edit’ those in a sequence that made sense as a short story.

Initial storyboard

Initial storyboard

From this storyboard I made a quick animatic to gain a sense of the timing of each cut and layer of animation.

A new book on The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’s art style has recently been published and I managed to get my hands on one. I heavily gravitate towards the minimal and impressionistic style that is featured in that film. It’s still amazing to me what a few ‘simple’ lines are able to convey in terms of physical- as well as emotional depth. The book tells the underpinnings and ideas behind that style and shows how they (minutely) got there.

Since the running length of this animation is meant to be rather short I wanted to remain close to the essence of what I wanted to tell and that is why I decided to adopt Kaguya’s style and experiment with it a bit.

All of the backgrounds were drawn in watercolour and pencil. I kept the colours and lines in the analog backgrounds pretty simple (as was done with Kaguya) to be able to better blend them with the digitally animated layers that were composited on top later.

It ultimately resulted in something I’m quite proud of and lies close to what was meant to be conveyed. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to refine it, but I’m happy the story and atmosphere is there.