‘I Lost My Body’ won the Critics Week Award at Cannes in 2019 and was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film at the Oscars.
This 81-minute French animation film (available on Netflix) weaves two stories together- one of a young man with a difficult past, now seeking love, and the other of a severed hand that has escaped from a lab and endures nail-biting action in an out-sized world, to find and reconnect with its body.
Unreal, right? The movie is exceptional in its concept and beautifully heart-wrenching; it leaves you with an emotional gut punch and can make you ask many questions about life.
This film has been intelligently crafted with vibrant and colorful as well as grey animation. The rich visual tapestry that combines animation and live action turns animation into art in this film.
So, how did they do it?
Merging 2D and 3D Using Blender Software
Making this animation film in Blender (a free open-source software) was a significant decision that allowed the director, Jérémy Clapin, to create something pictorial, and yet realistic.
The film was animated in 3D and then given a 2D look by using Blender’s 2D animation tool called ‘Grease Pencil’ over the CG animation. Blending 2D and 3D can be a challenge.
“It was all new and very organic. We had to find a good balance between CG and 2D – where to stop the CG and when to start the 2D, and how to communicate between those two approaches,” recalls Clapin, in an interview with CGW.
Focus on Cinematography (Using CG)
Working on the animation, the director wanted a more raw, human feel to the characters, especially the hand. Clapin’s goal was to make the audience forget that this is animation and draw them into a trance, where the morphological characters really existed, as opposed to “cartoony” characters.
According to Clapin, only CG could provide that experience; to make the characters real and to feel the real geometry behind the drawing.
Using 2D Animation to Retain the Human Connection
I Lost My Body keeps the dialogue between the creator and viewer by having a more human connection that was obtained by ‘handmade’ 2D drawings. In Clapin’s words, “Hand-drawing keeps the dialog between humans (creator and viewer). It is not the computer software that decides between the two.”
There’s a lot that goes into making a realistic animated film. The actors were filmed playing their respective roles while recording their voices so the team could have a visual reference. They only had a few days to generate gestures for the film – it was not enough. But Clapin observed that the animators took inventive and creative steps that let them not depend on the actors’ footage and used them only when they needed it.
Rotoscoping in I Lost My Body
Rotoscoping was used as an additive to the story. When the 2D animators started to rotoscope the CG animation, they added expressions and details, and achieved that organic feeling. “Compositing was really important for the integration. We had to think about lighting, depth of field, and so forth. The final look had to be something between drawings and cinematography,” said Clapin in an interview with CGW.
Cinematic Language – Animating a Hand
The cinematic language was the ultimate challenge that only animation could achieve. The movie makes the audience empathize for a character that had just five fingers to express itself. Clapin explains how he went about bringing the severed hand to life. “Once I started animation tests, I could quickly figure… the camera always had to stay close to the hand and close to the ground.”
The aim was to fulfill the hand’s perspective and experience in a super-sized world. Clapin explains that he looked for angles, positions and postures that humanized the hand while having the freedom to use the fingers as a tail, head or a pair of legs.
And truly, watching this movie will make you forget that you’re watching a severed hand, that would not have any memory or character of its own. This effect is a testament to the incredible work of the animators and storytellers behind the scenes.
I Lost My Body shows that modern 2D animation techniques still packs a punch and can enthrall audiences.
About Toolbox Studio’s Animation Services
At Toolbox Studio, we are passionate about using animation to draw viewers into compelling stories in the most unique ways possible. We believe animation is powerful because of its beautiful simplicity and boundless creativity. And as I Lost My Body shows, good animation can exceed expectations.
As a 2D animation outsourcing studio, we have delivered success and quality to clients in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia, and other locations. If you are interested in appealing 2D and 3D animation services for movies, get in touch with us today.