Mesmerising, beautiful, haunting, magical…Only some of the adjectives you may utter upon viewing this short film. Please do not be put off by the title. Yes, the video is moody and dark, but in the best way possible! Trust me. Though, if bugs make you squeamish, beware – you are about to come face to face with some magnified critters.
Death of an Insect premiered at the 67th Venice Film Festival in 2010, but the full version appeared on Vimeo more recently, after being screened at over 50 festivals around the world. The creators are Finnish pair Hannes Vartiainen and Pekka Veikkolainen, with music by Joonatan Portaankorva. Together they operate as film production company Pohjankonna Oy. They have also created several documentary shorts which push the boundaries of the genre and are a worth a watch, you can find them on their website.
Death of an Insect is undoubtedly the most striking of their films, and I would imagine the most complex to make. I am no expert in animation, 3D or visual effects technologies and normally prefer “old-school” hand-drawn, stop-motion or model animation. Let’s not forget that Vladislav Starevich’s 1912 classic “The Cameraman’s Revenge” used stop-motion to animate insects a century ago. However, this short film seamlessly blends traditional techniques and innovative technology. Photography, a 3D-modelling x-ray scanner, After Effects, Modo, stop-motion, Syntheyes – this mix of tools and techniques must have required extensive experimentation and play to get right! The outcome feels like an eerie blend of vintage footage and a strange, insect-infested apocalyptic future. Watch it now, if you haven’t already!
Check out the making-of clip on their Vimeo channel, and a comprehensive series of posts detailing the creative process here.