Catching a few lobsters...
/ “What Do You Mean Non-narrative?!”: A Deep Dive

Lobsters are Weird began as a group chat in February, 2016. In that time, we’ve gone through a ton of ideas, but almost always space themed and technical animation heavy. We also, early on, realized another major characteristic that would make our project better– make our project non-narrative.

As seniors graduating out of a program that stresses narrative filmmaking, this could seem like a crazy idea. After all, every project we’ve done leading up to this point should have been narratives, too. Why is it now, at our most crucial animation, are we departing from the cinematic cannons that have guided filmmaking since the Lumiere brothers?

First, we acknowledged that, as a group, we’re not interested in telling a story, per say. We’re technical animators. And, while we’re not all focusing on the same elements of production, we’re all interested in flourishing our individual strengths. When we leave our senior project, we all want the best possible shots on our demo reel, and maybe we should be planning for our demo reel, not conforming our technical skill to tell a story.

Next, we knew that trying to tell a story would lead to months of story notes. I don’t intend to point to groups in particular, but other senior project teams are stuck in that story step, even now, going into our winter break. Being that far behind has hurt projects in the past, and could have hurt us. By skipping the writing step, we’re able to focus more time on the elements we really want on our demo reel.

Finally, we worried that a story would detract from the viewer’s ability to appreciate the overall quality of the animation they’re being presented. When we remove the story, the audience becomes focused on what’s on the frame, not what’s between them. When you remove all but one character, the audience becomes more attached to that character. Through removing, we’re enhancing what’s already there.

We knew that aiming to do a non-narrative project would be a gamble, but it’s paid off very well. Our team is stronger and our project is much further along now than if we had decided to try to shoe-horn a story into our idea.

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