Kevin Herrmann animates the state of mind silence can induce
In only his bachelor's project, animator Kevin Hermann is displaying a unique way of storytelling developed from detailed research and a want to experiment.
- 5 March 2020
- Lucy Bourton
- Reading Time
- 3 minutes
Animation wasn’t quite the original plan for Würzburg-based creative Kevin Herrmann, but something visual was always a possibility. First studying media communication, Kevin’s studies were mainly in the theory of media, learning a lot about psychology, media marketing and even the perception of the media in general – “but it was also pretty dry”. Wanting to try his hand at something a little more visual, he then decided to study communication design “and this is where I revived my creative passions, illustration and animation.”
It’s Kevin’s graduation film from this course which has particularly piqued our interest, based on the theme of silence. A topic ripe for animated exploration, Kevin’s first reaction was to realise the huge number of possibilities in such a wide ranging topic, researching “some areas and aspects of silence” before “gluing them all together with a narrative.” This narrative is slightly personal too, with the animator explaining that rather than a literal depiction of silence, his film is “about the silence within and the peace we have to make with ourselves,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Silence in turn is visualised by Kevin as a sort of state of mind, a place where the “mind is able to flow and drift away, but also focus on haunting conflicts and traumas that we couldn’t let go of yet,” the animator describes. “And, if we battle these conflicts and cope with the distress, we achieve inner peace. So silence is both: the journey and the destination.”
To demonstrate this the short,The Silence Within, begins with rising levels of busy noise, encouraging the viewer to recognise the dramatic silence as it hits. Kevin’s illustrative style of location and characters also adds to this concept, with a futuristic quality inspired by the likes of Geriko and Yves Paradis. “It’s a simple, futuristic, vector-based and analogue textured style,” the animator describes. The perspective through the short is also particularly purposeful, parallel in its viewpoint to achieve “a visual silence through the straight lines and minimalistic compositions, but also can be chaotic like in the city scene,” says Kevin. “And, if the style is minimalistic, the viewer becomes more observant and attentive to small details.”
When it came to the actual process of making the The Silence Within, following his thorough research Kevin began scribbling and experimenting with a range of mediums, until “at some point I created a series of small gifs,” he explains. Becoming style frames for something possibly larger, the stylistic tendency of these gifs have led to the continuation of the project, one of the few certainties Kevin had creatively, as the narrative grew as the project did. As a result, scenes within the short jump between the real world of its central character and the layered thoughts in his mind, but always imbuing this established illustration style to link the two together. “It felt like I got to know the character more and more as the animation progressed,” Kevin tells us.
Silence is also heightened throughout the short with further sound design details as the film continues. While inside a building for instance, the gentle hum of an electrical system in the distance and the footsteps of the protagonist make viewers realise how eerily quiet it is. Even when the character ventures outside too, a distant dawn chorus or gust of wind has the same effect.
An extremely accomplished short for only his bachelor's projects, Kevin hopes to continue making animations, but is keen to not to “rush myself into the next chapter,” he tells us. Keen to learn new tools, new plug-ins and new techniques as well as styles, even though the second part of his education has just completed, Kevin appears to be a creative who will always be learning.
GalleryKevin Hermann: The Silence Within
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.