Somewhere Between

Animation short film

 
 
 

Animation short film directed by Marie de Beaucourt and Saulo Jamariqueli, 2015. 

Somewhere Between is a celebration of connections. It was borne of blossoming connections between illustrator Marie de Beaucourt, animation director Saulo Jamariqueli and musical quartet Subzar. This trio inspired greater things of themselves at each stage of the process, creating a fantastical journey that connects faraway places.

Attending a Subzar concert in 2012, Saulo and Marie conceived the idea of creating a short film to express the transporting quality of the group’s music. This quality would be conveyed not only in a tangible way, using exotic animals and juxtaposing landscapes to portray the wonder of exploration, but a symbolic one, with constantly evolving scenery to evoke the transient nature of life. However, for all her impermanence, nature is also cyclical; thus, the film was to be bereft of beginning or end. 

It was produced and shot in Saulo’s Nearly Normal studio in London over the course of a single month. To realise seamless movement through the scenes, Marie composed the backgrounds of eight landscapes on a single roll of paper 20 meters long. She then painted assets for each on over 30 square meters of watercolour paper, which were cut up and assembled onto a two-meter-wide set designed and created by Saulo. It included a motion control to shoot the scenes in stop motion and merge them smoothly together, and a purpose-built wave machine connected to both a computer and the camera on the motion control, allowing frames to be captured of the waves at two-degree intervals. 

For the soundtrack, a first draft was sent to Subzar to help establish the composition’s mood and regulate its length. Basing the first movement on a key chord from the piece that had inspired Saulo and Marie, the group then evolved the piece with each changing scene, organically yet precisely. Varied rhythmic meters and harmonic intonations breath further life in the vibrant landscapes, and different lead instruments voice the animals espied. Absent from the first draft, the fauna were added in the film’s post-production phase. After researching how the animals moved, Marie hand-animated each before digitally inserting them into their respective habitats.

In this digitally connected world, it is easy to admire artistic works without comprehending the effort put into their creation. As an exhibit, Somewhere Between connects the final work with a demonstration of its creative processes. Key to this is space - horizontal space between the layers to emphasise the depth in each scene, and vertical space created by the exhibit’s suspension from the ceiling, which allows the audience to capture at eye-level the details missed in the relentlessly restless film. Performing the soundtrack live alongside the installation enables a more dynamic delivery and allows the audience to observe the musicians’ interplay.

Somewhere Between is a journey without rest; a river that finds no sea, snaking its way through varied scenes and intruding on native fauna. There is much detail to absorb yet little time to do so - rivers will always rush, life moves on apace. For all its worldly locations, Somewhere Between can also be a metaphor for the disconnection that has become a trapping of the modern, urban lifestyle. Regardless of the pressures of time and routine, we must pause whenever possible to truly connect with our surroundings.

Words by Chris Redfearn-Murray