Although Disney’s “Feast” has been the presumptive frontrunner for its inventive technique and hilarious story, don’t be surprised if “The Bigger Picture” wins the Oscar. It’s got a clever hand-drawn/stop-motion look and a funny and poignant story about two estranged brothers coping with their aging mom.
1. “The Bigger Picture” (Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees): Jacobs learned how to paint watching her late grandmother, Eileen, who mentored her, and this short is a beautiful tribute to her gran. Dark emotions take on animated importance as tea keeps on pouring and filling the room and a Hoover sucks up everything.
“The painting and animation comes naturally. What was harder was incorporating the stop-motion element because we’d have quite a lot of things we were focusing on with the animation: characters were speaking, their hands were going in and out, picking things up as well, two of them at the same time,” Jacobs explains.
2. “The Dam Keeper” (Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi): These former Pixar art directors blend hand-drawn with lush brushstrokes to bring this Dutch-inspired folk tale to life about an unsung hero combating pollution. Pig works tirelessly to keep the sails of a large windmill spinning to protect his desolate town from poisonous clouds despite an indifferent public and bullying.
“In building a crew for ‘The Dam Keeper,’ it was a volunteer project and we turned to the community a lot more than using [our friends at Pixar],” says Kondo. “Growth was a big part of our crew and who we selected to bring on. We kept asking what can you gain by working on this project? Just as we about animation as illustrators.”
3. “Feast” (Patrick Osborne): The love of food and dogs turned into a clever and romantic conceit for Osborne (head of animation on the Oscar-winning “Paperman” and co-head of animation on the Oscar-contending “Big Hero 6”). Staying exclusively with Winston’s POV, he utilizes a quick-cutting, mockumentary style and a look comprised of warm colors, flat shapes and shallow depth of field.
“To me when you’re working on a piece of artwork, you’re constantly interacting with it, and we’ve been developing our tools on the CG side where you’re not waiting for stuff while you’re working,” Osborne suggests. “The computer is fast and it’s interactive and you’re able to design as you go for every frame, so you’re not influenced to make other choices just because it’s slower. In fact, when animators were working, they didn’t see shading and shadow: they only saw silhouette and shape. They were able to be fast and only shapes went upstream, not dimension.”