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The Hazards of Love Visualized at San Francisco Intl' Animation Festival

Here Come the Waves: The Hazards of Love Visualized, a 4 part visual representation of the Decemberists' 2009 album The Hazards of Love was meant to only be a one-time show- a backdrop for a performance of the album played live start-to-finish in LA. The result was so well received the film is now being shown in festivals. Last night it opened the San Francisco International Animation Film Festival, which runs until Sunday. Guilherme Marconde and Andrezza Valentin, husband and wife team who worked on the third of 4 segments, were in attendance to introduce and close the film. This was the first time they had seen it without the band playing in front of the screen.

As it started I thought about how seeing this on the screen as opposed to with the live band gives the animator more power. People are forced to delve into the experience, animation and music complimenting each other, and the animators take the wheel- guiding you on journey through all dimensions. Guilherme confirmed my thoughts on this during the Q&A at the end of the hour. He said that though it was a little more nerve-wracking with more attention on his work than usual, he enjoyed watching it without the band playing in front. Seeing it at a concert means it's a party atmosphere, with lots of energy and it’s communal, overall a less immersive experience.

Because in animation so much attention is paid to every frame and animators aren’t limited by actors or sets, but rather create everything there, it’s as if their raw vision is spilled out onto the screen. Therefore it's arguably more of a direct reflection of the artist than other live action film. One of the many delights of this hour long wonder is that 4 different directors worked on 4 different parts, which means you experience 4 different styles of animation back to back. The Decemberists asked the directors not to animate based on the lyrics and the characters in the songs but rather on the feelings they had while listening to it. During the Q&A Guilherme and Andrezza spoke to their creative process: "Sometimes we will listen to the music and ask each other, "What visual does this sound make you think of?"

During the show I started pondering why I was feeling so much nostalgia. Perhaps it's because a child I watched a lot of animation...but there's something else: Often times animated movies or videos create worlds made up of simple shapes and colors that look visually like a child would think: simply. I talked to Guilherme about this idea after the show. "Animation like this is so abstract that everyone can draw their own meaning from it," he said. That idea makes me think that animation has the potential to be a spiritual experience. Simple shapes and music allow you to draw meaning where you like, to find catharsis where you need, and you can leave feeling immensely full.

The switching back and forth between CGI, stop-motion and hand-drawings makes you notice the differences between each medium. I guess I am a traditionalist-- when the hand-drawn stuff comes on and constellations in the sky make shapes of animals that are then dancing with each other, it feels like a mixture of childhood and your ideal romance. Stars play a big role in all four sequences because one common theme of the all sequences is the seasons. I thought about the ideas that go with stars: the delight, the twinkle, the mystery, the wonder, the sparkle, the HOPE. Stars signify hope and things that are bigger than ourselves. Shooting stars are obvious signs of hope. That's how Here Come the Waves feels too.

All of this delight in one hour and guess what? These animators do this work as a SIDE JOB. Most of them do marketing work to make money. I asked Guilherme about this idea. "When you get paid for it you have to do what they want," he said. "If you do what you want, you don't get paid for it. That's just how it tends to work," he said with a chuckle. As a result he enjoys watching this work, because he created it from a place of passion.
Elisabeth Bartlett _visualized_at_san_francisco_intl_animation_festival


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