The Stop Motion Genius Animator
Rabbit and Deer is an animated short that has won several awards at different international festivals including a Special Mention in Cannes Lions at the Young Directors Award, Best Script Award at Anima Mundi and the Junior Jury Award in Annecy. Péter Vácz’s animations are an innovative twist on stop motion, utilising a blend on 2D and 3D (stop motion) elements within his films and incorporating their differences into his narratives. His short films seem to emphasise the potential storytelling aspect of animation, making sure to tell a short but thoughtful story, exploring the internal worlds he creates as in depth as he exploring the materials he uses.
Your Rabbit and Deer animation pushed the boundaries of mixed media animation, by incorporating the 2D and 3D elements into the story itself. What do you consider to be the differences between the strengths of 3D and 2D animations, and how did you think they could be used to enhance each other? I had a conversation in this subject with my filmmaker friend Joseph Wallace and he said, “I believe that animation is still such a new medium that needs to be explored and expanded.” I absolutely agree with him. Mixing techniques is a great opportunity to come up with new ideas – there are so many exciting possibilities to try out. The strength of 3D (puppet animation) is that you see real objects that you wouldn’t expect to come to life and have their own soul but when it happens it feels magical because it’s somehow connects us with the imaginations of our childhood. Meanwhile 2D usually has a more abstract style where you have more potential to exaggerate the world you invented, its characters or the animation style. I love the magical idea of travelling from one world to another. This idea has inspired me to use digital drawn animation and puppet animation techniques hand in hand to tell the story of Rabbit and Deer’s friendship.
What is your educational background? Did your previous projects have an emphasis on creative storytelling? I studied graphic design at Visual Arts Secondary School in Budapest, Hungary. I continued my graphic design studies at MOME also in Budapest (Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design). In my second year I designed a puppet with a set for an animated film idea in a workshop. It made me very excited about animation and turned out to be a great inspiration so I switched to the Faculty of Animation immediately. At university every course and animation I made lead towards storytelling. After learning the principles of animation I realized that one of the most important things to make a good film is the good story and the meaning behind it that people can relate to.
Your work seems to be very playful and based around fantastical and imaginative children tales. Are there any notable stories, or poems that you especially enjoy or take inspiration from? Well, there are no specific ones. I have favourite films or books from time to time depending on where my focus is in life and I often use them as inspiration sources when I work on new animations. I love experimenting and trying out new things I’ve never done before. Sometimes great ideas come while I am swimming or playing the cello.
I especially enjoyed your Steamschool animation. The continuous side-scrolling motion was an effective way of telling a simple story, while still following a grand journey. The visuals were very well thought out and carefully crafted. I noticed it was a collaborative project too. How much input did you have into the designs and the way the story was to be told? The interesting thing is that I had this little music box and one night I was playing with it. I was enchanted by the magical music that came out from its little metal structure while I was turning its handle over and over. I kept on listening to the melody again and again and I realized that I want the poem to be told with this feeling in animation. That’s where the continuous side-scrolling idea came from. I asked my friend Kati Egely who made these beautiful sewed textile pictures earlier to make some for my film. I made the sketches for the compositions and she made a wonderful job realizing them. Then I put them under the camera and let them to live and inspire my creativity to make the animation. It was a great continuous workflow.
How did you become a part of the Picasso Pictures team? Would you say all the animators of The Pod share the same playful, imaginative vision? After seeing my film Streamschool and my other works on the internet they invited me for a cup of tea to their London based studio. I was quite happy, surprised and honoured. At that time I was working hard on Rabbit and Deer so could only visit them when I finished the film. They were really nice and encouraging and they offered me to sign to them as an animation director. I don’t know the others that much in The Pod yet, but I believe Picasso Pictures is aiming for a wide range of creativity when they choose their directors.
What do you hope to achieve with your animations in the future? And would like to work on something feature-length? I’m aiming for a life where making animated films or anything else that’s connected to it is a lot of fun and becomes the main source of expressing my thoughts about the world. I’d like to try out many other formats of animation and storytelling like music videos, series, gag films, and of course feature films. Check out Péter Vácz’s official website here and his profile on the Picasso Pictures animation studio’s website here.