Animation lecturer’s work for Star Wars: Visions shortlisted for international award

04 July 2024

Laurie Sitzia
Laurie Sitzia
Type: Text
Category: University news

Laurie Sitzia, lecturer on BA Animation, was nominated for the Best Character Animation TV/Media award at the Annie Awards 2024, for her work on the short film ‘I Am Your Mother’, from the animated anthology series Star Wars: Visions Volume 2. The Annie Awards celebrate contributions to the art of animation that exhibit outstanding excellence in animation. Check out the full Annie Award nominations on their website. 

Laurie’s work focused on a story about a young pilot, Anni, who had to team up with her ‘embarrassing’ mother to win a race. The judges noted that it was the beautifully observed relationship between mother and daughter that scooped the nomination for Laurie.  

Laurie says of her process and working with Aardman Studios, “With the main character Anni, I began by developing strong key poses that could reflect her mood/emotion through the key beats of the film. Her small frame and elongated limbs were a joy to pose and made finding these legible shapes pretty easy.  

"Her mother Kalina, I found more difficult initially, because it was harder to work with her proportions. But it is actually those restrictions that added to her more grounded and maternal nature in the end, and made the distinction between her and Anni more pronounced.  

"Once we started shooting, I was responsible for the key emotional sequences. Retaining the warmth of Anni and Kalina's close Mother/ daughter relationship even when the tensions were surfacing and rising was really important to Magda (the Director).

"After an initial brief I would explore and refine ideas through LAV (live action video - a process where we film ourselves performing various takes inspired by the voice record) and once I felt I had some good visuals to present we would review these together and select the best moments to then translate into my animation: eye darts, a defiant holding of a gaze or a shameful looking away, the shifts of weight and body language.  

"I spent a good couple of months working in the cockpit where these key moments took place. The set was beautifully crafted and the dash lighting was incredibly intricate and elaborate. We shot multiple light passes so that there could be more freedom in the edit later on to decide upon timing and intensity. This slowed down the capture of each frame for up to two minutes at times!

"Creating believable ambient movement on Anni and Kalina during the race sequence was also a challenge as this had to be done without really knowing what the final thing would look like. It was a really satisfying moment when we started cutting shots in and adding a bit of camera jolt in post to enhance what I was doing, it suddenly all clicked into place. It was a really great project with lots of new challenges and processes. Aardman’s version of the Star Wars universe was a wonderful place to spend a few months.”

“It’s great to return to the University after these productions and share my experiences with my students. They love hearing about Aardman!”  

Alongside her role at Falmouth, Laurie has worked on many projects at Aardman, including The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man feature films. Her most recent industry credits include The Epic Adventures of Morph and the upcoming Wallace & Gromit film. She also spent last summer working on a Disney/Nexus production in her first animation directing role.  

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