Gathering over 90 animators from around the world, #FlattenTheCurve is an uplifting compilation of the quarantine experience
Using the power of animation, Kathrin Steinbacher and Emily Downe came up with a way to spread positivity during the Covid-19 crisis.
- 4 May 2020
- Jyni Ong
As lockdown rolled out across the UK due to the outbreak of Covid-19, animators Kathrin Steinbacher and Emily Downe experienced an increase in anxiety, much like the rest of the population. “We were hit by a level of anxiety and fear that was expressed and generated through social media especially,” the former tells It’s Nice That. But at the same time, “seeing how many people responded creatively to combat this” and encouraged fellow isolators was also overwhelming. In turn, the two creatives came up with an idea.
Connecting people all over the world, Kathrin and Emily decided to make a collaborative film expressing how different people are dealing with the Covid-19 situation – all through animation. “As a lot of people have freer diaries,” adds Emily, “we wanted to have a project to work on, and thought others might too.” The brief was simple; the pair sent out an open call on social media inviting any animators to take part. The snipped could be up to 15 seconds, depicting something they had experienced, seen or thought during this rather unusual period. And, to the delight of Kathrin and Emily, the response was fantastic.
The resulting film aptly titled #FlattenTheCurve consists of three shorts, the first of which premiered just yesterday. Directed by the two Royal College of Art graduates who also operate under the name of Studio Desk, the series opens with a beautiful 13 second animation by the one and only Angela Stempel. With music and sound design by Jan Willem de With, this first collaboration features the likes of Trang Nguyen, Bela Unclecat, Mikhail Gvarilov, Liang-Hsin Huang, Good Golly, Jodi Lai, Jenny Jokela, Kiana Naghshineh, Kyle Xuereb Cuningham and Eneko Ezquerro Gómez; just to name a few.
Though most of us are confined to one space which can be quite repetitive and uninteresting from time to time, for Kathrin and Emily, the art of animation presents a much needed escape. “Through animation you can be transported anywhere and you can reimagine the space you are in,” explains Kathrin. The creators can find solace not only in the visual expression of their story, but also in the emotional. Plants can talk, humans transform into dogs, animation takes the viewer on a spectacular journey right from the comfort of their very own home. Emily continues: “The audience gets to see some of the animator’s internal thoughts and experiences where a camera would just show them working away in their bedroom. The great thing about animation is that you can make a film indoors, which unfortunately a lot of live action crew are unable to do right now.”
Tying together a myriad of aesthetic styles, rhythms, dialogues and techniques, Kathrin and Emily, together with soul designer Jan, managed to smoothly bring together this variety in one coherent piece. Offsetting the bold, funny, personal or downright weird pieces against each other, the directors were surprised to find out how well certain tones or techniques complimented each other. “We love the contrast,” says Kathrin on the uplifting first film. Showcasing over 90 different artists overall from all corners of the world, #FlattenTheCurve honours differing forms of creativity during a trying time.
Highlighting the strength and resilience of people all over, not to mention the wonders of animation as a discipline, the project has provided an additional strand of support for the animation community. “It really is a celebration of a wonderful and diverse industry,” says Emily on the this film, which adds a little sunshine to the situation at hand. "When the news is mostly doom and gloom, as it has been since the outbreak of the virus, it’s hard for even the most optimistic among us to stay positive. So we are hoping that the audience will feel more positive and encouraged after watching the film, and hopefully be as inspired and excited as we are.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.