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What an experience! This summer, I had the chance to be part of Out of Home Animation, an animation workshop in the swiss alps. What a wonderful week, full of fantastic impressions. I need to share this with you. Come and have a look!

Every year, the OoHA takes place in the Fromatthütte, way up in the Bernese Highlands. Maya Gehrig was in charge of us during the workshop again this time, assisted by Daniela Meier and Carina Sommer.

Now for those of you who don’t know what the OoHA actually is, well:

This summer workshop is all about getting your hands dirty and working experimentally with what you find on site. […] Students bring image- and sound recording equipment, some paper, some tools, and the rest is up to them.

Wiki Animation Luzern

That’s the official description of the workshop. To add to that, I should mention that it is open not only to animation students from Switzerland (we wouldn’t get enough people together that way). There were students from various schools in Europe, mainly from Germany, and also a video student from the HSLU. Sound design, music or illustration students would be very welcome too, but they didn’t seem interested this year. Honestly, quite a pity.

Basically, this workshop was about connecting students from different schools. While bringing them together in a limited environment, away from daily life, for one week – to let them animate.

During the first day, the goal was to deep-dive into our new environment, get comfortable and open up so that ideas can flow. To do that, we took a walk together with Ewald, our scout for this day. He lead us through the grass, bushes and rocks and showed us several interesting spots. He knew a lot of background information. There wasn’t a single thing growing up there he didn’t have a story about. It was rather impressing.

Instead of our cameras, we took plastiline with us. This meant no aiming at the subject and then pushing a button, but smashing some clay on what we wanted to capture and then taking that imprint back to the hut with us (like a height map. teehee).

For the rest of the week, we were pretty free to work the way we wanted to. Getting into a productive state was pretty hard at first. Being out in nature in such beautiful weather distracted us from animating. But once we had a better idea of what we wanted to do, it got us. Or it got me, at least.

So how was it, animating in the alps? All technical equipment had been reduced to a minimum. And Spillgerten (that’s where the hut we stayed in was located) is a pretty remote place. Which was actually nice, because there were not too many distractions.

As for food and drinks, nothing was missing. On top of the meals we had a range of salty, sweet, and (wait for it) healthy snacks… damn, we even had coffee! Our only duty was to take over the cooking for one day.

Finally, there was the issue of electricity. The hut itself had none, but so that we could work, there was a diesel generator… We all knew that this is not the best solution. But you know, we’re still animators in a digital world. We can’t live without electricity. We need it to keep our laptops running. Then we can render our work to video files and finally we share it on social media. You know, at least we tried to use the bloody thing only for an hour a day.

All in all, the conditions to animate couldn’t have been better.

In hindsight, I think that one of the great benefits of OoHA was that it kind of opened us up to a wider range of animation techniques. By bringing us to a new surrounding (out of home) and by taking away many tools we were used to having ready at hand, we were forced to think differently. It freed us from some constraints we may have had in our familiar environment. I’m sure it’s not just me who thinks like that. A week of working like this has helped us broaden our horizons. Everything in our surroundings now seems to be a potential material to use in a future project.

All the stuff you heard from me about the OoHA would have have already been a cool experience in itself. But I’ve saved the most important thing for last. It’s the people.

I don’t know if this had something to do with being in nature, maybe it did, but all of us connected very much during this short amount of time. We had a really wonderful time together. So many little jokes among each other and at the same time deep discussions about big issues. I really appreciated spending time with the other students; actually everyone who was there. Strange to say, but I already miss it.

It was also fascinating to see in how many different directions our projects went just after a few days, even though we originally started from the same place. With so many different workflows and approaches to working with limited resources, we all learned a lot from each other.

Overall, I had a lot of fun. Even though my project isn’t finished yet (still some editing and sound design to do 😉 this doesn’t feel like a bad thing. A finished project wasn’t the purpose of OoHA – at least not for me. It just was a wonderful time, spent together with many wonderful people. Personally, the students I met and the memories I brought home with me from the alps are much more precious than my animations.

Text
– Dan Wenger

Revision
– Pavithra Paul

Pictures
– Maya Gehrig
– Carina Sommer
– Daniela Meier
– Dan Wenger

18. September 2019

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