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Creative

Karni & Saul Revisit The Multi Award-Winning 'Perfect World'

BAFTA-nominated duo discuss how they evoke an emotional response in their viewers

Karni & Saul Revisit The Multi Award-Winning 'Perfect World'

Karni & Saul are a BAFTA-nominated director duo signed to Black Dog Films/RSA Design and Animation. They are renowned for their animations and short films.

In 2016, the duo directed a music video for UK singer/songwriter Katie Melua. ‘Perfect World’ was created entirely in CG, and - despite being shot to a small budget and short schedule - has since picked up several 'Best Animation' awards from industry-leading events including the UKMVAs, and the Berlin Music Video Awards.


Here the duo revisit that work and talk about what makes it so special.


Q> 'Perfect World' is a beautiful world of your creation. What inspired you to create it out of sugar?

KS> Sugar is beautiful. It’s shiny, it’s glittery, it’s full of texture and allowed us to design characters with features that are only suggested. We think this is one of the strongest things in the film. Does the boy have more than two hollow eyes? Or did your brain just fill that gap and give him a smile or a tear... the truth is our characters have no facial animation at all.

Another brilliant thing about sugar is that light travels through it. When a translucent object is backlit it makes your brain goes ohhhhhhh… we love it. So, we used this technique in every shot. It gives the pleasure of light flares and light leaks, another emotional squeeze. And one last tool for creating an emotional response; size. Our sets and characters, being made from sugar, are tiny. The film is shot with Macro lens, oozing with shallow depth of field, that enhances the extremely fragile look of the characters and their world.

Q> How did you focus on the narrative and expressing feeling?

K&S> Although a lot of viewers talk about their engagement with the characters and the story, we have a deep belief that what really works itself into the heart are the material-driven attributes; glow, glitter, light, shallow focus, and loose character design. We talk a lot about dirt and interference in our work, about how when you DON’T show the viewer the whole picture, or the whole design, then you’re engaging them and making them a participant in the film.


Q> How tricky was the animation process?

K&S> Sugar is not a flexible, dynamic material. Animating sugar means re-sculpting your character for every frame of movement to create the illusion of life and of emotion. When you do this in the real world (let me remind you this project is pure CG!) you get what animators called “boil”; it’s a fast-moving noise on the surface of the character. In 2D this has been embraced by everyone, and results in the famously overused wobble outline of 2D characters. We embraced the 3D boil with enthusiasm, it is after all another level of texture and interference, and for us visual noise equals emotion. For us, visual and material is equal to character and narrative in engaging our viewer. This is of course an old battered subject in cinema language. Form is meaning.


Q> Are there any other materials you’d like to animate in future projects? What are you working on at the moment?

K&S> Working with organic materials comes about only once in a while… and it usually comes through the needs of the script/song/idea. We have recently worked with mushrooms, so the work focused on how time-lapse movement could be reinterpreted as character animation and how translucent mushrooms are. At the moment, we are busy writing a long format project and thinking about smoke as material.



See more of Karni & Saul's work at RSA.

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Category: Music video , Short films

Genre: Animation , Strategy/Insight