Motionographer Classics: Chris Landreth

In the early days of the internet, downloading videos often meant painstakingly collecting sequential 1.44mb .rar files, hoping none of them were corrupted, and finally unpackaging them in a sort of digital christmas present opening.

There are two short films that I will always associate with patiently watching a modem trickle down data – and that no doubt imprinted many a young animator’s brain. The first is The Spirit of Christmas video christmas card, which would spawn the South Park empire. The second video heralded a no less auspicious arrival. In 1998, Chris Landreth created Bingo, a horrifying, hilarious short film that showed off the capabilities of a new 3D software package called Maya.

Six years later, Landreth would win the 2004 Best Animated Short Oscar for Ryan. The haunting short film centers on legendary animator, Ryan Larkin, and his struggles with success and addiction.

Rewatching Bingo and Ryan I was struck with how great both films still feel. There’s a bit of that old CG look, but the script, editing, and acting are all so strong and fresh. Especially in Ryan, animation feels much more than a stylistic choice – it allows for visual metaphors that do heavy lifting in the storytelling.