International Motion Art Awards: Andy Acourt Visualizes Russian Lit

By David Schonauer   Friday April 19, 2013


We continue our series spotlighting winners of the first annual International Motion Art Awards with a haunting piece of animation that brings graphic life to Russian literature. British animator Andy Acourt’s IMAA-winning short was made to accompany the reading of author Vladimir Sorokin’s The Day of the Oprichnik—a tale set in a future Russia in which a member of the Oprichnik (secret police) is heading off to meet with his fellow officers to take a futuristic hallucinogenic drug. Sorokin’s rich prose and distinctive depictions of violence—he has been called “the Tarantino of Russian literature”—are interpreted by Acourt in a visual language of nightmarish beauty. The short is one of four animated pieces created by Acourt for a new documentary about Russian literature called Russia’s Open Book. (Note: The version of the short Acourt entered in the IMAA competition, see below, featured a voice-over by the documentary’s director. In the final version, the narration is done by British actor Stephen Fry.)


International Motion Art Awards

Untitled Animation For Documentary on Russian Literature

Animation: Andy Acourt

Directors: Paul Mitchell and Sarah Wallis

Editor: Toby Marter

Author Vladimir Sorokin has said that he is “always writing about Russian metaphysics,” creating fantastic, threatening landscapes that stretch off into a dark eternity. British animator Andy Acourt’s IMAA-winning work, one of four animated pieces created by Acourt for a new documentary about Russian literature called Russia’s Open Book, captures both the darkness and hallucinogenic quality of the writer’s vision.

“The story was being told by the narration,” notes Acourt, “so I just needed to come up with moving imagery that supported the story and reflected it's surreal nature. A dream brief.”

Acourt, who trained as a graphic designer and worked for a number of London’s big brand-design companies before making the jump to animation, created thepiece late last summer in his studio in North London.

“I've always liked working with computers, but I always try to make my work look like I don't work with computers,” he says. He used Autodesk’s Maya animation software to create the 3D animated shapes, as well as the cars and other figures in the piece. He then used those renderings as mattes in Adobe After Effects software, applying various hand-drawn and painted textures over them. “I kind of fiddle around till I'm happy with it,” Acourt says. “I created all the animation but worked closely with the short’s two directors, Paul Mitchell and Sarah Wallis, and the editor of the documentary, Toby Marter. It was good to have the collaboration.”

You can go here for the trailer for the documentary, which features clips from Acourt’s other animated segments.




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