Jocie Juritz, a London based animator, studied Illustration & Animation at Kingston University. She works with narratives, employing 2D computer based techniques to create animations with a nod towards the handmade. Here she talks about the process of creating her graduation film, Fractured.

Jocie Juritz - Fractured

Fractured was my BA Graduation film, an animated short following the experiences of a woman on an evening out with friends. As her emotional struggles manifest into physical problems, she desperately tries to keep herself together.

As someone with a completely erratic and over-active brain, I have always been interested in how impossible thoughts can sway us. I’m fascinated by our responses to irrational fears, and how we attempt to mask or avoid them. I explored phobias and how they divide someone into two conflicting sides – the rational and the unreasonable. As I developed ideas for my degree film I began to imagine the ways irrational responses could be visually represented. Although I love using visuals to tell stories, I wouldn’t say I’m a natural storyteller. For me the concept and themes come first, and then the characters and narratives can evolve.

Jocie Juritz - Fractured - Character Design
Jocie Juritz – Fractured – Character Design

Jocie Juritz - Fractured - Concept Design
Jocie Juritz – Fractured – Concept Design

When working with moving image, the first step is storyboarding, creating quick sketches of each scene, and rearranging them until you are left with a story which flows. With these sketches I would make an animatic, using After Effects to time the images to music and sound effects. I repeated this process for a month or so before I was happy with the outcome. At that point I should have completely decided on each scene, the composition and timing, but if I’m honest, I was still reworking sections until the very end of the project.

In Fractured, the heroine, Peggy, begins to break down, and suffers at the hands of her worries. Although I had strong ideas of where her fears were coming from, I hoped it would be slightly more ambiguous for the audience. After screenings, I’ve been asked whether the film is about lacking confidence or fearing crowds, amongst a range of other problems. Each individual hypothesis seems to reflect the own viewer’s worries and I find it both endearing and comforting to know that everyone has felt a little disjointed from time to time. I hoped that by keeping the actual problem slightly ambiguous, a wider audience might be able to relate to the result.

I have always been intrigued by body language, the messages people accidentally reveal, and their attempts at portraying false ease. These involuntary gestures are an essential part of communication, and have become a major component in my animation. I decided against any speaking in the film and paired down the character designs. I wanted to reduce the storytelling to movement. In turn, working with simplified characters pushed me to explore further, how narrative themes would translate themselves to visuals.

Jocie Juritz - Fractured

I had previously worked in Flash, but animated this project on Photoshop, as I wanted it to look somewhat hand drawn. The process of animating is unsurprisingly laborious. You start by drawing ‘key-frames’, the essential poses the character will hold. Then adding frames between those, known as ‘in-betweens’, to show how the pose travels. Then more frames are added in-between those, and so on, until it runs smoothly, or you get bored and give up.

Perhaps creatively torn between the tactile qualities of hands on model making, and the adaptability of computer animation, I often work with photographic textures and scanned imagery. In Fractured you can see that the ground is a photograph of tarmac, the shape of a doorknob is cut out of a brass texture. To contrast these surfaces, each of the characters has a hand coloured look to them. This aesthetic choice was one of the most demanding (and somewhat regrettable) of the project, as each character had to be individually coloured in on Photoshop, with 12 minutely different frames per second. This was the point where I employed the free labour of my friends and family.

Jocie Juritz - Fractured

Sound was hugely important in Fractured. The music which drives the short is an electro swing piece by Little Violet and Bob Bradley, called ‘Speakeasy Caper’. The film is set in a club and I felt the bouncing, excited rhythm held up to both a lively atmosphere and an unsettled moment of frenzy, whilst still gratifying my slightly intense love of a brass section. As we see the lead character panic, the music distorts with her. Extremely simple techniques of playing sections backwards, speeding them up and slowing them down created a tense and distorted feeling. I wanted every element of the film to reflect her emotions.

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