Work / Animation

Student animation explores symbolic interpretations of love using clay and 3D software

Minne is a short animation about the different aspects of love and has been created by Liu Yen-Chen, Zozo Jhen and Fabien Corre, students at visual communications school Gobelins, L’École de L’Image in Paris. The film is divided into chapters containing one statue in each, which “offers a symbolic point of view on concepts of love” including frustration, struggle, vulnerability and motherhood.

“We decided to use 3D animation, but not the way we are used to seeing it. We didn’t want to be realistic and build human characters who would have their own and limited, well-known way to convey feelings,” says the trio. “We wanted to build characters and then use them as objects and statues to reach the same feeling you can have in front of a piece of art in a museum.” This approach means the animators simply offer viewers sculpture-like characters set in a barren, mountainous atmosphere, allowing them to “dive into a world which is half theirs, half ours”. As a result there’s a mystery cloaking the two-minute film, and the haunting but subtle sound design by Mathieu Tiger adds to this intrigue.

“We hope that nobody has a perfect understanding of [the film], but that feelings can emerge. We hope it can be seen as a visual poem,” they say. Over five months, Liu, Zozo and Fabien split the task of animating equally, assigning jobs based on who wanted to model, rigg or animate the various parts. “We also sculpted some of our characters in real clay with two of them being 3D scanned instead of being virtually sculpted in the 3D software,” they explain. “The last part of the process involved the texture work. Our first sketches felt strong as 2D pencil renderings, so in the final rendering we tried to achieve the same look in 3D.”

For each statue the students drew three pencil textures, which were then layered on top of each other providing a “messy, vibrating impression” that gave the 2D aesthetic they were after. The main challenge of the film was to overcome the “technical constraints of 3D”, while managing to keep the sensitive, more emotive elements of the work present as all three animators were “concerned about the subtleties of style and feelings”.


Liu Yen-Chen, Zozo Jhen and Fabien Corre: Minne (still)


Liu Yen-Chen, Zozo Jhen and Fabien Corre: Minne (still)


Liu Yen-Chen, Zozo Jhen and Fabien Corre: Minne (still)


Liu Yen-Chen, Zozo Jhen and Fabien Corre: Minne (still)