One man’s animation of 7 and half minutes in 100 days

  • 10 characters done in 35 days
  • 65 shots done in 65 days
  • Everything done by one person, including sound design

A 28 years-young Swiss designer and animation artist Joel Stutz created a complete cartoon animation from scratch with sound design in summer 2016.

The Story

Bibi is a mother. She lulls her baby – the lion in the boat. She carries her baby – the bear in the car. She has her baby explore the world – the hippo in the submarine. She provides action – the frog and the plane. Kids always desire something, and Bibi is the best mother because she gives even more. The lion wants a duck, but gets a boat, The bear wants to see the mountain and Bibi brings it there. The hippo wants a dolphin and gets a submarine. The frog wants a bird and gets a plane. Children know that Bibi brings all the happiness they ever want.

bibi cartoon 3d animation story concept by Joel Stutz, Visual Center

No Storyboard

As crazy as it seems, no storyboard drawing has been done except a few conceptual drawings. The reason was time and the countdown has started – there is no time to waste on drawings, do it in your head! Build the video in your mind, watch it in your head, and see if the cuts match and flow.

Character Design

The main character was obviously the most important one and it had to resemble the bibi mascot as closely as possible. Only for this character a proper design and character study has been done. Each secondary character is the mascot of a bibi baby product and had to be done straight from intuition without tests and trials.

Know the rigs you need

I cannot stress enough the importance of rigging. Get it right and you’ll be rewarded every single day of animating. Here is where I break the rules and ignore many traditional workflows. In fact, nowadays because of the many automated rigging tools you often see nightmare rigs with thousands of controls and attributes, fingers and arms filled with lines and curves you need ages to learn how to use before you’re even able to animate a simple finger movement.

I like the approach that rigs should work for me, not the other way around, therefore I automate as many processes as possible, for example a control that has the character to smile causes the mouth to bend upwards, eyelashes slightly open, eyebrows rise, cheeks rise, and the head squeeze. When the body moves, the scarf automatically follows, eliminating the need to animate it individually or to use nCloth simulations. When animating I want to click as few buttons as possible and get it done as fast as possible.

Most importantly, I never want to see attributes on the channel box. I want to animate characters “sculpting” them directly on the viewport. If a character stretches his tongue, it should be done on the viewport by grabbing and pulling it, not by wasting time finding it through a list of 20 attributes in the channel box.

Model efficiently

Considering the 5,000 meters in diameter of Bibiland I had to be careful not to overload the scene with geometry. Instead of typically dividing the scene into pieces that would only cost me time I found it an extremely efficient alternative to keep the scene as one, but eliminate geometry in areas far from where the camera would be. This of course requires that already during this initial phase of modeling you know how the entire animation will play, and again your mental storyboard becomes of primary importance.

More screenshots

Subliminal meanings

I believe that any human creation is an inevitable reflection of the environment we live in. The reason why Bibi travels by train is that I live next to a train station. The behavior of characters reflects the behaviour of our society. As in the animation, we are always dependent on vehicles wherever we wish to go.

Nationalities

The lion is European, sailing to the African continent to get the treasure. The bear is Italian, who always takes his car to go for a picnic. Then there is the Greek hippo who has been drowning in the European Union. And finally the American frog continuously moves left and right, never stands still – the action guy intervening in all parts of the world.

The 7th minute

This is my personal touch, the seventh minute, 7 is the biblical meaning of completion, and this picture is the only one existing where our family is complete, 7 members and myself.

My grandmother Alice always wanted to return to her home town to spend her last days, but her dream never came true. Here is your new home “Alice”, in the wonderland, thank you for everything you have done for me.

To my beloved Malamute Sun, I miss you incredibly every single day – you were with me 8 years ago when I founded my animation studio, you have been with me through all happiness and difficulties, you are like a son to me.