Artist Statement: Matilda

For my motion graphics assignment, I chose the book Matilda. I was obsessed with Roald Dahl as a kid and I enjoyed the musical version of Matilda as well, so I knew I would love creating a tribute to the original story.

When studying different designers in the lectures, I was most inspired by how Kyle Cooper (Se7en) creates his own fonts and how both Cooper and Pes Films (Fresh Guacamole) use physical objects in their media, so I decided to work in a similar style. I made a font out of books, plus I did my entire animation using photographs I’d taken. I specifically chose older books to create a more classic aesthetic since Matilda was set in the era where the most technologically advanced form of entertainment was a TV.

In terms of music, I chose a mystical-sounding track called Path to the Citadel from WeStar Music. I used Pro Tools to edit it so that the magical echoing noise it makes happens as the first book floats gracefully downwards, assumingly due to Matilda’s telekinesis. I also used Pro Tools to fade the music out at the end.

At the beginning of my motion graphics assignment, we first see The Old Man and The Sea coming forwards off a shelf in a library, then floating downwards. This is followed by Nicholas Nickleby coming off the shelf at a faster pace, showing a more powerful and thus more intriguing example of magic. To finish the clip, the books float over to a wall along with a lot of other floating books to spell out “Matilda”.

I chose to make my trailer with those shots and those objects with a specific vision in mind. I chose to focus the clip on the theme of books because Matilda is all about a little girl who’s a voracious reader, and the abundance of books alludes to that. Additionally, I chose to make the books float off the shelves and into place because the other essential theme of Matilda is her magical abilities. Lastly, I chose to animate the books moving faster and faster with each shot because it builds the momentum of the piece and keeps the viewer intrigued, and I specifically chose to feature the The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens in the first two shots because those are two of the titles that Matilda actually reads in the story.

I storyboarded my project pretty well so this animation wasn’t too challenging to make. However, it was very time consuming because I had to photograph a lot of angles of a lot of books, select the best pictures, and photoshop out the photo backgrounds for almost every element I used. The main challenge of the animation was to make the books fly in paths that didn’t cause the books to fly through each other. I had to pause a lot and move keyframes around to make sure that didn’t happen. Additionally, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to create the letter A out of books, so that required more thought than the other characters in the font I created. In the end, I made the A by placing a book downwards with its spine parallel to the floor, curling some of the pages inwards towards the spine, then slightly closing the book so the pages stayed there to create the cross of the A.

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My target audience for this piece is adults who have heard the story of Matilda either from the musical or from the movie, but have either never read it or haven’t read it since their childhood. Matilda is a classic of children’s literature and has experienced a huge resurgence due to Matilda the Musical, so hinting at the familiar plot is more effective than spelling it out and saying “Once there was a little girl called Matilda. She loved to read. But she was a little bit different from her peers…” etc. Additionally, I think it’s a better approach to the trailer because it leaves the viewer curious and “wanting more” as the assignment recommended.

Here is the final trailer for Matilda.

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