Rubber House


Written by Liz Cookman
03 Thursday 03rd January 2013

2012 was pretty full on over here, how was it for you over in Australia?

2012 was a great year for Rubber House. We produced a lot of work, visited the UK on a British Council fellowship, visited clients in LA, and went to France where we were in the official selection at Annecy 2012.

You've made a few videos for Gotye, how did that come about?

Our first short, The Big Winner (2010), came to the attention of Wally (Wouter De Backer, AKA Gotye) who was seeking animators for his Making Mirrors stage show. He’s commissioned over twenty animated music videos mostly from Australian animators and studios. The live show is essentially an animation festival curated and funded by one man. We highly recommend catching the show if you can.

We started State Of The Art when Wally visited our studio and it took five weeks to complete. Then he asked us to pitch an idea for 'Don’t Worry We’ll Be Watching You', that one took just three weeks.

Our latest video for Gotye, Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver, was finished in London while on the British Council fellowship.

The first instalment of your six-part film Old Feed is due for release in February, the taster is gorgeous and also quite scary - what's it about?

Old Feed is my personal film project. I suffered a stroke while doing VFX at Weta Digital on King Kong in 2004 and afterwards moved to Eastern Europe to recuperate. I taught myself traditional animation there and wrote the script.

It’s about cartoon animals trying to survive a 10,000-year drought in the Pliocene epoch (5,000,000 BC) by fighting, deceiving, cheating and eating each other. Despite all that, the script is actually very comical! The film is split into six parts that will be released over the next year and a half.

Your work has a distinctly vintage feel, are you retro geeks at heart?

Within animation culture, there’s a popular theory that animation design peaked during the ‘golden age’ of the 50s and 60s and declined during the 80s. Style and design aside, we’ve analysed the production principles used in that time and try to apply them to our own methods. Thankfully those principles happily marry creativity and efficiency.

This isn’t to say that everything produced during the ‘golden age’ should be replicated or that we’d like to see it return. Essentially, it means we focus on keeping our pipeline as light and efficient as possible, our animation as explosive and loose as possible, and apply smart design and colour theory.

What's living in Melbourne like for creative souls such as yourselves?

Melbourne has a healthy animation scene. There are a lot of companies producing 2D animation for children’s TV and there’s Loop De Loop, a monthly international looping animation night where Ivan is a board member. Melbourne is a small, relaxed city with a lot of small start-ups and government arts support considering its size.

How did you both get into animation?

We come from very different backgrounds. Ivan trained in illustration and worked, in the past, for self-published comics and indie-gaming, where as I (Greg) trained in fine-arts. My background is in feature film VFX, 3D modelling and mo-cap performance.

We were working in Melbourne on an a children’s TV show in the production design team. When the contract ended we decided to form Rubber House, we both wanted to pursue the same production principles.

If you could do an animated remake of any film, what would it be?

We’d like to remake one of Tim Burton’s films to teach him what it feels like.

Finally, is there anything you've always wanted to say but couldn't?

The internal politics of the animation industry - the amount of work available, the etiquette towards freelancers and so forth - means that people don’t openly dissent or discuss problems for fear of damaging their position in this tight-knit community. This results in a general acceptance of each other’s techniques, and people with similar styles form cliques. The one thing it feels risky to state, but we always wanted to, is a broad condemnation of the false economy of using automated animation processes like Flash ‘tweening’, and the ‘un-animation’ feel of the resulting ‘style.’

For more information on Rubber House, head to their website or follow them on Twitter @RubberHouse

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