Cosmos Laundromat, The First Cycle: A Review

Film/Short: Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle.
Created By: Blender Institute.
Released: 2015.
Running Time: 12 min.

This delightful animation is spearheaded by Blender Institute, which is a company that provides open sourced 3D computer animation software of the same name. This is the fifth open movie project from the company. The purpose is to make a feature length animation created by an international coalition of animation studios using the Blender program, each releasing a part of the story in chapters dubbed “Cycles”. This first installment was directed by Mathieu Auvray about a suicidal sheep named Frank (Pierre Bokma) who is approached by a man named Victor (Rienout Scholten van Aschat) who gives him a proposition.

The animation and style in this is phenomenal! A very promising start that utilizes an attention to detail, and texture, particularly with Frank, such as the individual hairs on this sheep’s face and his wild wool, and in particular his eyes, which were well rendered in this great close up moment as he contemplates Victor’s words. The colour in this pops at you in both setting of mood and a sense of the saturated trippy fantastical when Frank’s ride arrives. Everything about this is a visual treat that keeps the eye riveted; you can tell the animators put a great deal of effort into this.

The sound in this was very well done. The music by Sebastien Krause was perfect; adding an extra touch of wow to the moment when the vortex descends and chases after Frank, with the backup of Frank’s fellow sheep in chorus was a nice touch.

The premise of the story is intriguing, using a rather unique character, and the set up for what is to follow does well to incite interest, neatly starting Frank onto his journey and providing a good cliffhanger segway for the next installment. The only problem I can see is that the sheep somehow inexplicably knew that the device would take him somewhere, but it never readily explained how the sheep knew that what Victor offered him would do anything at all and that he wasn’t just some crazy person tying something to this neck. The dialogue between Frank and Victor could have been a bit more filled out. Otherwise, it doesn’t overly take away from the enjoyment of it, and will perhaps be better handled in the next installments.

The individual characters introduced so far are good, Victor comes across with just the right amount of intrigue, presented in a manner that explains what he is without outright stating it while his motivations appear to be yet to be realized. Frank being a suicidal sheep of all things combines a sense of depressive comic tragedy about him. Right off he is presented as a creature that struggles, and boy howdy does he! When he drags that broken branch he had tried to hang himself on, you practically feel this guy’s determined effort as he pulls that heavy thing across the island to the cliffs, panting and struggling with everything in him. You just want to know what this guy’s deal with wanting to die is, and hopefully one of the other contributors this project will take the time to flesh out Frank’s motivation.

Overall this is an animation to look forward to with each progression, where it goes and how the other contributors will add to this wonderful project.

*Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-rmzh0PI3c

The Cosmos Laundromat website, link: https://gooseberry.blender.org/

For other animated short reviews go to Film Shorts Reviews.

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