Variety has called the animation in Eternal Spring “dizzyingly superb,” while Screen Daily lauded it as having “the gritty texture of a graphic novel.”
Jason Loftus’s mixed-media documentary sought to honor the comic book art of the film’s main subject, illustrator Daxiong, but also bring it to life in a way that audiences could feel immersed in the harrowing events that were being recounted. This unique combination of authentic 2D aesthetic in an immersive CG world is realized in the opening five-minute long shot (oner) where the audience literally dives into Daxiong’s work, and his traumatic past.
With a team of only four (4!) animators, including Animation Director David St-Amant, it was important find creative solutions to achieve this effect. Take a look at the creative process behind this unique result.
This video compares stages of the opening scene pulled from Daxiong’s panoramic storyboards, which formed the basis of the CG sets.
Though the sketches were rough, they served the basis for 3D layout, and an important foundation for a complex shot. Matching rough lines added a dose of imperfection that helped break the 3D look. The artist hand drew (and in some cases hand-coloured) the details that were draped onto the 3D models.
The step-by-step is explained more in this article for Post Magazine, Making Canada’s Official Oscar Submission Eternal Spring, with input from the film’s director Jason Loftus, producer Yvan Pinard, and animation director David St-Amant.
Finally, check out this detailed interview in Animation World Network with the film’s director for more on the unique approach and attributes of this hybrid film: Eternal Spring Revisits Two Decades of Religious Persecution Through a Survivor’s Drawings.