Utrecht Goes Hollywood: Oscar Nomination for „A Single Life“

Animation studio Job, Joris & Marieke centered their workflow around Cinema 4D.

A young woman, a slice of pizza and a mysterious vinyl single: these are the only ingredients needed for being nominated for an Oscar® - at least for the small Utrecht, Holland-based creative studio Job, Joris & Marieke! The small team relied on Cinema 4D as the primary application for the creation of “A Single Life” and used Cinema 4D’s toolset to handle the complexities of 3D content creation, including modeling, rigging, character animation, lighting, rendering and more.

Many of Job, Joris & Marieke's past works are characterized by their charming, imaginative stories, their unusual style, interesting music and lovingly designed characters (Mute, The Daily Drumbeat). Job, Joris & Marieke were guests at last year's Maxon user meetings in Düsseldorf and Munich, and their work was praised enthusiastically by the entire Cinema 4D community.

In the typical Job, Joris and Marieke style, “A Single Life” tells the story of Pia, a young woman who finds a mysterious vinyl single. As she spins the record she is suddenly able to travel back and forth through the years of her life. The three-member filmmaking team of Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins and Marieke Blaauw managed all aspects of “A Single Life”, including the original idea, writing, directing, design, animation, as well as creating the sound effects and composing the music.

The film was originally created as a part of Ultrakort, a special project of the Dutch Film Fund and the Pathe cinema group in which select short animations are screened preceding blockbuster movies. In the Netherlands, nearly a million people already had the chance to view “A Single Life” on the big screen.

Job, Joris & Marieke was established in 2007, initially as 2D and stop motion studio to create short films, videos and commissioned work, and gradually began to push its artistic capabilities into the 3D animation realm to handle projects with rich layers of detail. “One of our main storytelling challenges in “A Single Life” was to capture Pia throughout the five stages of her life – from a little girl through old age – in five different settings within a very abbreviated timeframe,” says Oprins, one of the film’s directors. “When we launched the studio we had no prior experience in 3D and decided to bring Cinema 4D into the production pipeline because we found it to be user-friendly, integrates well with other professional applications and offers powerful creative capabilities.

Cinema 4D afforded Job, Joris & Marieke the creative flexibility throughout the filmmaking process to realize the unique animation style in “A Single Life”, which was shaped by the studio’s background in stop motion. Cinema 4D’s Jiggle Deformer was applied to add bounce and follow-through effects to the animations, while XRefs enabled a flexible and streamlined workflow to organize elements, work with placeholder props and animate characters in simultaneous collaboration.

Pia ages a few times in the film, so her clothes, size and hair style change but her shape doesn't so we were able to use the same character rig,” says Oprins. “This saved us significant time because we could start animating a scene in Cinema 4D before the character was finished.

The powerful Displacement Map feature in Cinema 4D was also an essential workflow feature for adding detail. “To achieve a dramatic and stable lighting that worked well with Pia's hair we chose not to use Global Illumination and instead built the lighting with a dome and cluster of very soft spots,” adds Oprins. “We rendered everything in 32-bit and were able to stylistically light aspects of the scenes to great success without unreasonable render times."

“A Single Life” has been selected to screen at film festivals worldwide, including
the Toronto International Film Festival, Dutch Film Festival, Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, New York International Children’s Film Festival and numerous others. The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements 2014 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live on the ABC Television Network.

The 2015 Oscars award ceremony took place on the 22nd of February and the Oscar for best animated short film went to Disney Animation Studios' "Feast" by Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed.

Additional information on “A Single Life”.

Previous slide
Next slide