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LIAF 2019 Trailers: The Making Of

We have been extremely lucky this year to have two talented animation students from the National Film and TV School (Izabela Barszcz) and Middlesex University (Stephen Quenet) make our festival trailers.

We’ll be screening them far and wide throughout the festival on the big screen at all our venues as well as extensively online. But here is your chance to see them before anyone else.

A big thank you to all the great tutors at the NFTS and Middlesex University but especially Rob Bradbrook and Jonathan Hodgson for their help in co-ordinating this. And a massive thank you to all the students involved in both projects.

Stephen and Izabela were kind enough to tell us a bit about the process of making the trailers. Here’s what they had to say.

Stephen Quenet (Middlesex University)

This was my first time making something edited to music outside of my personal showreels, so I was really looking forward to the challenge. I started looking through the films and making a list of notes for shots that I really liked as well as ones that could be blended together easily through transitions. With this in mind, I started getting things onto the timeline. The hardest part of any process like this is always deciding on the opening shot. I knew I wanted to something in one of the films to present the LIAF logo, and feel like the shot from Imbued Life (Ivana Bosnjak, Thomas Johnson) served that well!


“Sausage Roll” shot from James Cheetham’s film.

There were certain films I had an idea of where to place from the outset, for example the “Sausage Roll” shot from James Cheetham’s film The inner turmoils of someone who’s definitely not me, however for the most part I was placing a film down and seeing if it matched the flow of the music and if not, swapping it for something better. Special mention to Natasza Cetner’s film Nigel, which had a really nice shot I reversed for a transition and is perhaps one of my favourite short films I’ve ever seen.

The music was provided by Gabriel Ong. I asked him if he had any suitable music and he uploaded this file with a really nice start and flowy melody, not sure he would’ve expected me to go with that one!

Working on the LIAF trailer was an amazing opportunity that I feel really blessed to have been given. The films this year are really something special and I can’t wait to get there myself to see as many as I can!

Izabela Barszcz (National Film and TV School)

The LIAF 2019 trailer shows the jungle at night as nocturnal animals come out from their hideaways, attracted by colourful light and music. Chasing the light, the curious animals end up gathering together around a bright screen, enjoying the animations and the festival.

The main idea for the trailer is that we, animators, are like nocturnal animals working in the night. Then this one week of the year the colourful lights of the festival draw us in to come out from our studios and enjoy the films.


Mixing the trailer

While coming up with the pitch for this trailer, I was on a walk in the woods and it suddenly started getting dark. All I could see was silverish backlight and vague silhouettes of the trees. But the sound of the forest became so much louder.  Every creature that was in the forest made a noise, even the ants were so much louder. I felt I was intruding on their territory. All the sounds were so big and coming from all directions. That’s the sort of feeling I wanted to carry through to the cinema, when sitting in the dark seeing an abstracted jungle and hearing the richness of the sounds of nature and creatures in the night.

Animators quite often work in the night-time as there is something quite calm about it, and the hours seem to stretch when you work at night. (If anyone ever had a moth sat on their light box while drawing at 2am – you know what I mean!)

Dominika Latusek created the soundscape for the trailer and also did the sound mix. The approach was playful and experimental – using Foley sounds from tearing paper, sticky tape, scissors, a shutter release and acetate, to help convey the idea that the creatures are the animators.

We worked with Fabio Amurri, the composer, earlier in the year when he composed music for my sand animation. It had a tribal / chase feel – this was something I wanted to also include in the LIAF trailer. Fabio also added a twist to the story. The music at the beginning sounds like a club, becoming more tribal as it progresses and then, when we see the festival logo, it develops into a happy African theme.


The multiplane

For the animation technique I wanted to use paper cut-outs and also play with the sense of depth and layers of the multiplane. Arushi Chugh, the cinematographer, helped me with achieving this, setting the lights so that we don’t see too many reflections off the glass but also playing with the colourful light hitting the leaves. The animation took a while, as it combined camera movement, frame-by-frame light changes and movement of the paper cut-out animals.

In post-production Marco Valerio Caminiti made the final animation look more graphic and contrast-y, while also bringing some warmth to the colour of the final screen section.

It was a great fun working on the trailer and I am extremely excited to see it playing at The Barbican and other cinemas in London.

I hope you enjoy the trailer and the festival!