Cute animation shows how a pair of scissors escapes to freedom

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In the short film ‘A Small Escape’, we see a pair of scissors come to life (think Toy Story, but with household items) and attempt to escape to the outside world.

The adorable story was created by Stockholm-based CG artist David Sandell, and it won best animation at Sweden’s Short Film Festival 2016.

It only lasts two-and-a-half minutes, but it shows how great storytelling can create memorable characters in a short span of time.

We interviewed Sandell and found out more about the tale’s inspiration, characterisation, and music.

What was the inspiration behind ‘A Small Escape’? What led you into creating a film about a pair of scissors?

“Firstly, I wanted to see if I could pull off making a short film by myself. I thought of it as a small proof-of-concept project at first, but it quickly grew into something bigger.

“Secondly, I love the thought of inanimate objects living a life of their own and I wanted to explore that. I was playing around with office supplies and a pair of scissors one day, and when I put them together it resembled a bird. That gave me the idea to this whole project.”

Seeing as your characters are inanimate objects, how were you able to give them expressions? How were you able to express each individual item’s personality?

“This was a difficult task! I didn’t want to make it too cartoony by changing the shape of the objects, so no warping of the handles of the scissors to make it resemble the expressions given by an eyebrow, for example.

“Instead, I tried to make the pair of scissors look a bit insecure by wobbling and swaying a bit. The shot where the scissors peek around the corner adds a lot I think. The music helped a great the deal, too!”

Speaking of music, we loved it! It was perfect for such a charming film. Please tell us more about the sound and music. What was the team’s creative process?

“I asked my friend Oskar Vallinder if he would be interested in writing and performing the music and thankfully he was. I gave him some references and tried my best in layman’s terms to describe how I wanted the music to feel.

“Oskar picked it up quickly and gave me some rough drafts that were headed the right way and after a couple of iterations we were both very pleased with the result. We wanted something that felt small, soft, and insecure but would expand and gain confidence as the pair of scissors would team up with the office supplies. Our main inspirations were German musician Nils Frahm and Danish band Efterklang.”

“Recording the sound was fun! We had the help of another friend, Jonathan Silfverberg, and the ambience were recorded in his apartment where we were laying completely still and silent on his floor hoping we would pick up some interesting sounds. The sound the scissors make when walking on the wooden floor was us repeatedly stabbing a plank.”

The animation here is incredible. Tell us, what’s your criteria for making amazing animation?

“Thank you very much! Animation is definitely not my strong suit, I much prefer working with the lighting, texturing and shading than to actually animate. I mostly sat by my desk trying to copy the movement I would make with my own hands trying to make a pair of scissors walk. It took some time though. When you’re not that good at it, you just have to spend more time.”

Just curious. Where did the scissors and office supplies fly off to?

“I always pictured them flying far, far away to a hidden island inhabited by other objects that have come to life.”

Lastly, what are you working on next?

“Aside from some advertising spots me and my colleagues are working on, I have two short film projects I want to start working on: one about a ghost moving from the countryside to a big city, and the other about a restaurant with a secret dish on its menu.”

You can see more of David Sandell’s work over here.