Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Stalin's fridge

Stalin's Fridge is an animated feature aimed at a mainstream audience. This is a dark comedy adventure, brought to life with a combination of classic animation techniques and the specially developed computer technology. Although it involves some of the most sinister figures of recent history, the political shenanigans are the backdrop for antics in the mould of The Rescuers or The Borrowers, with the mice as central characters happily oblivious of the terrible carnage around them.

The graphic style of Beb Deum's artwork is a perfect match for this subject matter, but makes several technical demands, namely the rendering of 2D images to give them an air-brushed, 3D look. This seemed to be the perfect vehicle for the use of "creative pull".

The animation industry feeds off novelty, and the development of Stalin's Fridge was used as a model to give the consortium's software developers, so that they could develop 2 and a half D, and rendering processes necessary for the production of the film.
As more and more animation production for television is sent to the Far East, the European industry is in danger of losing those very skills it needs to compete internationally in the future. Preproduction may be done in Western Europe, but very little animation for television. European animators are mostly employed either in the games industry, or on feature films, where budgets are higher. If we are to retain jobs and skills in Europe, we need to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the animated feature film industry.

European feature animation stands in the shadow of the great American and Japanese animation studios. In the US, an animated feature film could cost as much as $100 million. This money can be recouped through a combination of cinema receipts, sales of dvd and vhs, and spin-off merchandising. It is quite possible for a film to make its money back from a domestic cinema release, and then to make large profits from overseas exploitation. The same is true of Japan, though budgets are lower, and the overseas market less lucrative. The feature film market in Europe, however, is extremely fragmented. There is no pan European system of feature film distribution, the market for animated features varies enormously from country to country, and theatres in some countries, like the UK, take a disproportionate percentage of receipts.

A European feature film producer is usually faced with a choice of either selling rights to a big American studio in order to raise a large production budget (Chicken Run), or working with the sort of budget that can be recouped within Europe (Kirikou, Belleville Rendezvous). This means working within a production budget of less than $10 million. This is 10% of a big budget American animated feature.

In order to compete internationally European studios need to be creating its own styles of animation, i.e. doing something that the Americans are not doing, and also reduce costs. The development of 2 1/2 D software for Stalin¿s Fridge is designed to do both these things. Stalin¿s Fridge uses a design style that is innovative and idiosyncratic, very European, and which could not be easily realised using existing software. At the same time, through the Custodiev project, a software is being developed that could not only potentially reduce costs, but which could allow all sorts of illustration techniques to be realised in animation in a way that is currently, at best, difficult, at worst, impossible. This could have an impact both on feature film animation, where new and innovative styles can be realised, but also in the world of tv animation, where new markets could possibly be created in styles impractical to do in China or India.

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Siriol Productions
3, Mount Stuart Square, Butetown, Cardiff CF10 5EE
United Kingdom
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