Animated Spotlight: Thoughts of You

So I was talking with Bresson about tapping in on this feature occasionally.  I’m going to leave the big in depth stuff to him, and focus on shorter pieces of animation myself. Be they short films, or specific scenes from longer things.

I figured there’s no where I’d rather start then my favourite piece of animation ever produced. Thoughts of you by Ryan Woodward.

A little bit of background on Ryan Woodward first, he’s not typically what you’d think of as a character animator. His main speciality in animation is effects animation, smoke, water, fire, etc. For my money he’s probably one of the best effects animators alive today, responsible for the effects animation in Osmosis Jones, The Powerpuff girls movie, The Iron Giant amongst others.

His effects speciality really shines through in his character animation though, while essentially the animation is nothing super fantastical except for a couple of bits. Just two characters dancing, the way it’s done with their limbs smearing into water or smoke as they move. Their’s almost an overuse of smears that makes the characters almost appear as if they’re made of liquid instead of solid people that really highlights the strength of the medium for conveying this kind of dance in a way that real people just physically can’t. And the entire piece relies on this kind of animation to convey, basically everything due to how stripped back it is.

There’s no camera movement, no background, no clean up done on the figures, no colour, no nothing. It speaks to someone that is supremely confident in his animation that he would make this so bare of anything. So much of animation is based in hiding and misdirection and bullshit. He removes any of that though, there’s nothing but a flat static shot of two full characters dancing. The fact that it works so successfully is a fucking testament to his skill as both an animator and a director.

But at the end of the day what does it actually mean? Honestly I have no idea. There’s a lot left open to interpretation, why does his shadow disappear, why does he leave her at the end, what’s the significance of the shading being on her but not him at the end? Is she a ghost of a lost lover, some kinda spirit?

Fucked if I know, but I’ve watched it a thousand times (Including frame by frame for this post) and I never tire of it. It’s hands down one of the most gorgeous, emotional piece of animation I’ve ever seen.