Three CalArts animations you should watch

One of my favorite parts of YouTube is the animation section, particularly the people who upload their own animations to YouTube. A lot of them are animation students: CalArts students always upload a video at the end of the year. Most of them are excellent. 

I  wanted to discuss came across a few videos that I really enjoyed:

1) Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday by Jackie Files

This short animation focuses on a young woman named Molly as she packs up her childhood bedroom. She comes across some old diaries, which she reads and realizes how much she has changed. The main theme in the film, is that you don’t need romantic love to be happy.

As somebody who has written in a diary, every single day since early high school, and as somebody who never had a boyfriend in high school or college, who didn’t have their first kiss till they were seventeen (and hasn’t kissed anyone since)… I understood everything this animation was trying to express.

I’ve only recently started dating, and while the online dating has certainly made it easier to meet people… It’s hard. It’s a weird feeling trying to catch up, and it still feels weird to be alone sometimes. And I’m still trying to accept that.

The animation was also really pretty, and I loved the attention to detail Jackie put in to certain aspects like the light up shoes on her elementary school self, the fursona drawing in her middle school diary and how each of the diaries’ appearances differed based on the time in her life, the subtle Ouran High School Host Club reference.

I absolutely loved it; certain parts may have been too on the head and made me feel uncomfortable but I loved the way she was able to capture these ideas and emotions

So it was brilliant and I really hope to see more of her stuff in the future.

2) There’s a Man in The Woods by Jacob Streilein

This video was posted on a student film channel in 2014 but I only discovered it a couple years back. It’s by far one of the most creative pieces I’ve seen: its unique in tone, story and animation style.

In this spoken word style narrated cartoon, a teacher gets fired after one of his students starts a rumor about a serial killer in the woods by the school which causes him to slowly go insane. The whole thing is very intense, with a lot of suspense leading up to the very last second.

Part urban legend, part poetry, with great music and voice acting, it still holds up after several viewings. It’s unbelievably well-paced. It’s well deserving of the 2M-plus views it has, and if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.
3) Who’s Hungry? By David Ochs

This one dates back to 2009, and it is reflected in the aesthetics: black and white animation, macabre story… I love it. It’s a compliment. If “There’s a Man in the Woods” is a psychological thriller, then this one is straight unadulterated horror.

This animation is a modern re-telling of “Hansel and Gretel,” where the two children get kidnapped by a giant driving an ice cream truck. Once at his home, it is up to Gretel to save herself and her brother from being eaten. There is no dialogue in short which works to its advantage: emotions are expressed through grunts, hiccups and other bodily functions. Music plays an important role.

The animation style really stands out.

Since graduating, Ochs he’s worked on Clarence as a supervising director and on Monster’s University and Brave as a crowd animator and on DVD distribution respectively. I hope we get to see some more original content from him eventually.

The whole thing is dark and unexpected and definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart. I really hope to see more of his original work one day. He could make the next Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Something with dark humor, semi-inappropriate jokes and the occult now and then; it’s something that’s sadly lacking on cartoons lately. I need more of my dark, emo early 2000s style cartoons, please!

There are a lot more video that I enjoy, of course. I’ll discuss them too eventually. I really can’t wait to see what all of these people do in the future. I can’t wait to see what other videos I find from other animation students. Bring it on


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