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Friday, 13 November 2009

"The Lighthouse Keeper" Rony Hotin, Jérémie Moreau, Baptiste Rogron, Mailys Vallade, Gaelle Thierry & David Francois (Gobelins 2009)



























A new movie from the Gobelins animation school is always a pleasure. Their films combine the finest technical and artistic qualities. So to The Lighthouse Keeper. High above the sea, light beams out from the lighthouse attracting insects that beat against the glass. The lighthouse keeper is disturbed from his slumbers by the sound of a huge zeppelin-like insect hammering against the glass, harmless were it not that its vastness smothers the light. Fighting to fend it off the keeper inadvertently makes matters worse, a situation rendered a crisis by the proximity of an ocean liner. A lighthouse provides inspiring visual spectacle, the contrasts between the blinding light and darkness offering great potential for the animator. This is depicted majestically in the graduation film of Rony Hotin, Jérémie Moreau, Baptiste Rogron, Mailys Vallade, Gaelle Thierry and David Francois. I also must praise an extraordinarily good soundtrack from Romain Gauthier composed especially for the movie, dovetailed to perfection, dramatic or evocative as required, the rhythms of the action mirrored in the music. Vincent Hazard contributed a complementary sound design. Such friends for a production team are of solid gold. There are scenes to savour. The keeper bathed in amber light one moment, deep shadowed the next, vivid against the light source, heaving his broom against the vast firefly; or equipped only with a lantern, frantic as another leviathan bears down towards him. The look of the film is distinctive, predominantly 2D, using TVPaint, a French bitmap-based software package. The technology was used for light and shadow, insect and keeper; the boat and lamp have been made in 3D; and the lighthouse itself created in a combination of more traditional 2D and Photoshop. The team estimate between 65% and 70% of the film was created with TVP, four of the six animators working with it. Less technical minded viewers will notice a look of soft pastel, ever so slightly smudged, dynamically delineating shade and light. The film has the wow factor all right. It ends with a dedication to Rony's uncle, Theodore Mence, tragically murdered last summer - "We feel that he looked like our lighthouse keeper in a way and he would have really deserved this tribute."

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