Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Wire Cutters (animated short)

Blake Harris 09.13.2015

With so much great working being done in the animation and explanation spaces these days, each week we like to highlight an impressive piece of content. This week’s selection is a beautiful short film called Wire Cutters.

Wire Cutters tells the story of 2 robots–each mining on a desolate planet–and a chance encounter that proves beneficial for both…at least at first. This 7-minute short film was created by Jack Anderson and served as his thesis in Digital Arts at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. It has played (and won awards) at several festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival, the Anchorage International Film Festival and the Cecil Awards.

Here’s the movie:

Credits & Awards: 

Created By: Jack Anderson
Original Score By: Cody Bursch
Sound Design By: Jackie! Zhou
Additional Animation: Jen Re, Erica Robinson, Hunter Schmidt, Justine Stewart, Jacqueline Yee
Additional FX: Danny Corona, Matthew Robillard, Tim Trankle
Cloud FX: Chase Levin
Colorist: Bryan Smaller
Rigging: Katelyn Roland
Advisor: Bill Kroyer

FINALIST: 2015 Student Academy Awards
FINALIST: 2015 Student BAFTA Film Awards
GRAND JURY PRIZE: BEST STUDENT FILM: NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER: BEST ANIMATED FILM- SONOMA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER: “BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ANIMATION” CECIL AWARDS 2014
RUNNER UP: ANCHORAGE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (ANIMATION CATAGORY)

3 Things We Love About This Film:

1) Variety of Shots: to demonstrate the desolation of the planet where these robots are mining, Anderson used several different camera perspectives. Unlike most animated films–or films in generally, really–Wire Cutters goes beyond the typical wide-shot, medium-shot and close-up. Angles like the following were not only effective in helping to better create this space in the viewer’s mind, but also helped break up what could have potentially dulled the viewer as monotony (after all, this is a desolate planet):

Tight Wide Medium First Person POVAboveclose close

2) Unexpected Narrative Framework: it’s hard to imagine that anyone could read what this film is about (or watch the opening scenes) and not immediately think of Pixar’s Wall-E. Not only is Wall-E’s job, as a waste-collecting robot, similar to the protagonist of Wire Cutters, but the bleak landscape in both films is remarkably alike. Given these parameters of similarity, one can’t help but expect a familiar story to play out: lonely robot meets other lonely robot and happily ever after eventually ensues. And for much of this film, it seems that’s where the story is headed. But towards the end, Wire Cutters breaks away from those expectations. That, in itself, is admirable, but what makes it effective (and especially entertaining) is that this departure does not betray the tone of the characters and story. In this fashion, we as the audience start to suddenly realize all the little ways in which Wire Cutters has been unlike Wall-E, and many of the unique nuances that makes this short special.

other guyOther Guy Wide

3: Sophisticated Conveyance of Emotion: from afar, one might expect that a story centered around two robots would rely primarily on action and reaction to depict the emotion of its characters. Meaning that, given the level of detail necessary to effectively illustrating feelings, there would probably be more of a reliance on “telling” rather than “showing.” But in Wire Cutters, that’s not the case. Anderson frequently thrusts his characters right in front of our faces and lets them–these creatures that feel so real and lifelike–to “speak” for themselves (without ever actually speaking of course). In this manner, we are treated to a panoply of emotions…

Sleepy:

Sleepy

Curious:

Curious

Cautiously Optimistic:

Excited

Crestfallen:

Cresfallen

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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