Described as being “not about something you witness for the first time, it is about something you have forgotten”, Dimitris Simou’s University of Westminster graduation short Schemata serves up a dual wildlife narrative which challenges conventional perceptions of images and events experienced by a distant viewer. Simou describes the theoretical inspiration behind his parred down, yet expressively engaging animation style.
With Schemata I wanted to challenge the way we perceive images and therefore reality. Sometimes we are indifferent to situations that happen at a distance, situations that we read in the news or problems that don’t affect us directly. Narrative is a tool that can make us feel empathy. Its power is based on recognizing patterns/schemata. This film is trying to ask what happens when these schemata become more abstract? What happens when we leave our preconceptions outside the viewing experience? When two unconnected narratives occur at the same time, which one is more important to us? How manipulative are the director’s choices in shaping the way the audience feels? Fortunately, I only have questions, no answers!
I am pleased with the finished film, even though I find many imperfections in it. It was created over a six-month period, from the initial idea to the finished film. My initial goal was to experiment with the levels of abstraction while still making a narrative film. Karl Sims’ virtual creatures and Richard Attenborough’s Life documentaries were a big inspiration to my concept. I wanted to create a sense of observation that you don’t usually find in animated films and this was achieved by giving a lot of time for the animals to breathe, eat, walk and mate. Moreover, shapes and recognized forms change constantly. Thus, a more democratic (utopian) viewing experience is achieved. Schemata was modelled, animated and rendered inside Autodesk Maya, and it was composited in Adobe After Effects. The editing was done using Adobe Premiere and the sound design was created in Adobe Audition.
I found the music piece, Impromptu II, for alto flute and live electronics, after a lot of random search on the internet. Cheong Li’s piece is very interesting because it feels distant but at the same time is very emotional. This dualism between mind and feeling is eventually what this film is trying to explore.