My Top Five Animated Shorts of 2013

End-of-the-year lists are typically, by their fashion, posted approximately before or at the end of a year. But I’m anything but typical. 2013’s seen its fair share of exceptional animated shorts. Working with ‘Awesome Robo’, I’ve had the privelege to discover and write about a dizzying amount of spectacular artists, kickass music, and breathtakingly beautiful short-films. Here are the choice few that really caught my attention.

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1. Keloid, by Big Lazy Robot

Keloid was the one of the first posts I ever wrote for Awesome Robo, and in a weird sort-of seredipitious way it felt like a full-circle moment. I remember (oh so politely) badgering my friends in early 2012 to watch this gritty animated teaser short that I excitedly described as, “imagine Se7en, only with Mechs.” Who would’ve though I’d be writing about the follow-up short nearly a year later for a major art-blog? Craziness. The “full-length” Keloid retains many of the characteristics that made the original so memorable, but escalates the scope of the initial conflict to a much larger and frigthening scale.

The dark, quasi-european metropolis of a not so distant future and Aaron Beck’s characterisically insectile, SWAT team mechs make their full-fledged return. Gone however is the shrill cacophonous soundtrack of Amon Tobin’s Machine Gun, as well as the sinister repartee of the malicious A.I. antagonist. Instead we have a balls-to-the wall action movie; rogue viruses co-opting lumbering military mechs that battle it out against the dwindling robotic forces that still pledge some loyalty(?) to the human race.

Whether Keloid as a project will continue is a question to which I don’t have an answer, but if nothing else, this short and the original trailer are enough to tide us over until BLR blows our minds with something awesome again.

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2. Myosis, Directed by GOBELINS pro

Myosis is so damn beautiful it makes my heart hurt. The short follows a man moments after he is torn from the woman he loves to be assimliated into  a dark shifting body of oppressive autocracy. But the man refuses to let go of his lover and, despite all odds, attempts to assert his freedom and come back to her. It’s equal parts visually and thematically inspiring; metaphorically and vibrantly colorful. The visual parallel between the amorphous fluidity of the two lovers (think Osmosis Jones) compared to the stark solidity of the black monolith in which the protagonist is indoctrinated is especially novel.

This is easily of the most gorgeous shorts I’ve seen all year, and that’s really saying something. Perhaps Myosis’ greatest strength is that manages to be both sensual and visually sensational without either overpowering the other. A moving testament to perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition; An act of defiance canonizing two stalwart lovers. C2C-Deltaa9-640x360

3.  Delta, Directed by CRCR

I had some brief but enjoyable experiences in high-school listening to the collaborative eccentricities of french turntablism bands such as Birdy Nam Nam and C2C, but this was one of my first times listening to the latter in many years. And what a re-introduction. Delta follows the story of an alien kingdom besieged by an ominous triangular harbringer of destruction drawing ever closer. The populace attempt to evacuate, a lone crier pronounces the destruction of the city and the exaltation of the Delta, and the warrior king futilely sends his armies in an attempt to defy the inevitable.

C2C’s track is a superb soundtrack; a funkadelic turntable dance track accompanying an impending apocalypse. Delta is a satisfying self-contained narrative, whose color palate and sci-fi strangeness brings to mind the surreal works of the late french illustrator Jean Giraud aka Moebius. If you be looking for one of the year’s best music videos, look no further.ContreTemps08

4. Contre Temps, Directed by:  Jérémi Boutelet and Associates

Y’know how I said that Myosis was one of the most gorgeous animations of this past year? Well I still stand by that statement, but Contre Temps sure does stand shoulder-to-shoulder beside it. French for “Against Time”, Contre Temps is the story of a chisel-chined, petticoated clock-maker fixated on the excavation & restoration of time-pieces in the ruins of a metropolis long-swallowed by the sea. One day, the clock-maker makes a precious discovery in the midst of his routine search of the city between the recession of the ocean. What follows is a life or death decision in which the clockmaker is forced to choose between preserving the past or living for the future.

Contre Temps is a gorgeous, near-seamless blend between dynamic, cel-shaded 3-D animation and static, portraitesque 2-D backgrounds. Corral-coated jalopies, barnacle staircases, and beautiful fluidity of a harsh, indifferent ocean are some of this animation’s main attractions. The shot framing of the short carries the weight of much of Contre Temps appeal (such as the fantastic one pictured above.)

I had so many wonderful deja-vu moments to animated show like Big O and the Aeon Flux short “Tide” while watching this for the first time, not to mention one particular chase scene that reminded me BioShock. To paraphrase a good friend of mine, Contre Temps may be one of choice few animations shorts I would sincerely like to see turned into a full-length feature. Regardless, I hope to see the team behind this collaborate on more projects in the future.
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5. The Scarecrow, Directed by Moonbot Studios

This short garnered an overwhelming amount of accolades when it first premiered this past September. The Scarecrow is impeccably animated, if narratively heavy-handed commercial for the Mexican Food chain Chipotle denouncing factory farming  and antibiotically-infused livestock. However, the double-standard disacknowledgement of Chipotle’s own troubled relationship with antibiotic meat and the short’s faux-vegetarian appeal to higher integrity has not been lost on its critics. All that glitters is not gold.

Still, the short remains a phenomenal piece of animation with intricately crafted backgrounds and a likeable, empathetic protagonist. Scarescrow resembles a straw-headed Abe of Oddworld fame, caught in a macabre disney-esque reality bent sideways with looming skyscrapers painted sickly shades of saccharine sweet, all the while bordered by stretches of agricultural desert. A literal food desert.

I haven’t even mention the real centerpiece of the entire ad; a hauntingly dystopic, chillingly beautiful rendtion of Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” by the unimitable Fiona Apple. For her contribution alone, I name this one of my favorite shorts of 2013. One does not have to choose between being a socially-conscious consumer and a appreciator of impressive animation. I highly recommend you watch the short for yourself and reach your own decison.

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RE: Awesome Robo and the topic of future updates!

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Hi internet people! How have you been?

If you haven’t noticed (Which, in hindsight I don’t know how you could have possibly of noticed but still), I’ve been welcomed into the folds of the fine gentlemanly-folks at Awesome Robo! Awesome Robo is an Arts & Entertainment news blog primarily focused on showcasing the work of phenomenal digital and mixed-media artists across the Internet, super awesome animated shorts and music videos, as well as the occasional bad-ass, aesthetically unique video-game titles!

Naturally, for the past two weeks I’ve been writing for these guys, I’ve been over the moon with excitement and possessed with an even more insatiable hunger to share all the cool shit that I think is, well Awesome. But a nagging persistent thought-virus has somehow bypassed the eleven firewalls of euphoria surrounding my personal responsibility cortex, and that thought has become a question,

“What does this mean for ‘Sifting Through Patterns’?”

Naturally, I’ve had this blog-space for over two years now. At first, only sporadically posting the occasional long-form media essay, the overly effusive nerd-gushing of deft computer-mediated-communication, the long-standing but ultimately abandoned Let’s Read series of soul-crushing angst (We’re not talking about the Tor Let’s read here, we’re talking about Oryx and Crake).

So what’s the future of this blog, and where do I want to see it in the future?

The answer is that yes, I am still going to be writing long-form editorial essays nerd-gushing about all the films, books, games and other cool shit that I want. Short-form features however will be re-purposed henceforth to the Awesome Robo initiative, to feed the fuel tanks of our gigantic cavalier Jaegar-bot so that we can stand and fight against the threat of the deadly boredom-inducing Kaiju.

From time to time, I’ll post a bi-weekly update collecting all my Awesome Robo posts to parse through like so much attractive fruit at the farmers market that is the Internet. I’m still doing the Tor Let’s Read, I’m working on a new Modest Proposal following the successful reception towards my Gargoyle one (It’s gonna take awhile though), AND I have a bunch more upcoming long-form essays and feature series I want to boot up as soon as I get the monkey that is my Undergraduate college career off my damn back. And yes, there’s the elusive long-term goal of original short-form fiction writing standing aloof at the cusp of the horizon…Almost there.

As a sign of goodwill for having read-through even a tiny chunk of this post, here are the few articles I’ve posted for Awesome Robo since I’ve started;

So yeah, That’s my Ally Mc-Spiel on that! Looking forward to posting more awesome content in the immediate future, no matter where I hang my hat.

Take it easy,

Toussaint