London-based director and animator James Curran is currently living in Tokyo for a month. To document his time there he’s creating a new animation every day for 30 days, “inspired by the things that I see during my stay”.
James has created a Gifathon series for other cities he’s travelled to, including LA and New York. “I’m better at making gifs than I am at taking photos. I thought [Tokyo] could provide enough different inspiration to my previous locations, so it would hopefully make the project interesting for me to design,” he explains. “My ideas mainly come from the things that I see each day. I try to find repetition in real life scenarios that I can turn into loops, but sometimes my ideas are a bit more abstract.”
So far the gifs see James’ character running through cherry blossoms which form a beard around his face, the artist eating an infinite amount of noodles and short insights into the joys of Japanese vending machines. His style is crisp and clean with visual gags and gangly limbs, allowing James to condense the chaos of Tokyo into neat, looping vignettes.
On average, the gifs take James around six hours to create and he splits up the work on each one over shorter sessions throughout the day. “I just go straight into design in After Effects and see how the animation develops from there,” explains the animator. “I’ll try to have a good idea in my head beforehand of how it will end up looking and this usually ends up being pretty close to the final gif.”
Despite the restrictions of the project and the fact he’s working on his holiday, James has found it fairly easy to make the daily animations. “I’m still spending more time doing things around this city than I would do in an average month back home, because half of the project means I have to go out and find inspiration,” he says.
About the Author
Rebecca Fulleylove is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and culture. She is also senior writer at Creative Review, having previously worked at Elephant, Google Arts & Culture, and It’s Nice That.