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Immersed in Movies: Spinning the Oscar-Nommed ‘A Single Life’ Short

Immersed in Movies: Spinning the Oscar-Nommed 'A Single Life' Short

The dark horse Oscar short contender comes from Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins, and Markieke Blaauw: three young partners who run a Netherlands-based design studio (Job, Joris & Marieke). In A Single Life, Pia finds a strange vinyl single. If she spins the record forward, she becomes older. If she skips backward, she gets younger. The CG short (which played in front of blockbusters in Holland theaters) has a lovely stop-motion vibe and features the eponymous title song by Happy Camper, composed by Roggeveen. In addition, he does many of the background props (the three of them share design duties while his partners handle the animation).
Bill Desowitz: What was the genesis of A Single Life?
Job Roggeveen: It started [15 years ago] when we were studying together at the Design Academy in the Netherlands. We were listening to a record and the record skipped and the idea came to us that the record didn’t skip, we just traveled a little bit in time. But we didn’t know we wanted to make a film of it at the time.
BD: What were some of the challenges?
JR: We put a lot of effort in the facial animation so people will love our character and we work in Cinema 4D because it’s a little bit more intuitive than Maya. We start working in 3D and making sketches in 3D. Sometimes we know the technique, as with her hair, and we know how to make it a little more detailed, a little more color and is bouncing more when she moves her head. 
BD: The stop-motion look and performance is quite nice.
JR: Yeah, that’s the thing we love because we started as a stop-motion studio, actually. I’m only a designer but Joris and Markieke learned stop-motion and I learned about 2D animation because I draw a lot and used After Effects. Then we jumped into 3D and that’s where we are now.
BD: It’s interesting going back and forth and your timing couldn’t be better with the vinyl having a new renaissance.
JR: For everyone, it’s really curious what their life would be like in the future. It would be a big change to jump into the future and also really weird to experience your childhood again. And all the different phases in her life have different angles that could help us with the story. 
For instance, when she gets 10 years old and the first time becomes pregnant. Her pregnancy gave us a joke because she could stretch with her belly. And then returning to her childhood gave us the possibility that she couldn’t reach for the record player. And it’s nice the way Joris animated where she pushes it too far. And then when she’s getting older, she’s in a wheel chair and can’t get there, or the idea that the record player gets stuck in a groove and we were able to make a joke that she skips in one moment and how she should get out of that one.
But we had only two minutes, so it was a great challenge to make everything clear in that time. And there’s a lot of animation in her face as she looks at the right points, so she directs the viewer at all the right places. 
BD: And it takes a really dark turn.
JR: It’s about how fast your life can be over, so I think it’s a good thing that it’s over with a bang.

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