LoopdeLoop is a monthly contest in Melbourne, Australia, created by animators for animators. It poses a simple challenge: make a short, engaging animation that loops. The format makes sense; animators want to do a fun side project, but don't have all the time in the world. Although animation is extremely time consuming, a few seconds can go a long way when the narrative loops. The ingredients are simple, but the results are mesmerizing, and often hilarious. Each story can repeat infinitely, and it's wonderfully satisfying each time the story starts over seamlessly.
Here, Scott Benson's Opposites tells a dark tale of a little band on the move, and he describes the challenge of creating it in a short interview below. You might recognize his style from the music video for Rendezvous's "The Murf," which can be found along with an extensive interview with Benson here. Watch more loops below, and check out the mother lode on LoopdeLoop's site (fair warning: it's where productivity goes to die).
The Atlantic: How did you find out about LoopdeLoop and find time to do it?
Scott Benson: I was contacted by Neil Sanders, a great animator who helped start LoopdeLoop. He and I knew one another's work, and he invited me to participate in one of the first challenges in May of 2010. I missed the first challenge but vowed to take a crack at the second one. I then proceeded to turn it in two days late. Sorry, Neil!
How did you come up with the idea for this short?
The theme for that month's LoopdeLoop was "opposites." I suffer from a touch of some sort of bipolar thing, which has informed a bunch of my work. We had just moved to a very nice and leafy neighborhood. I was taking long sunny walks in the woods almost every day. At the same time, my wife was out of town for the week and I was struggling with a bit of a depressive crash. My submission to LoopdeLoop ended up reflecting those two things -- wonderful, sunlit, cheerful walks and long, dark, sad nights.
I can never seem to make something that's just for fluff and fun. If it doesn't relate to something on my mind, I have a hard time wanting to actually create it. As such, even this silly little project ended up being about something with a lot of weight in my life.
What are some of the challenges/bonuses of making a looping animation?
Well, the challenge is right there -- it's hard to make something that includes repetition as a natural element. You don't want to make a piece that just ends and begins again for no reason. I think I went for the low-hanging fruit by choosing the day and night cycle and rotation of the globe. That's just very obvious. My favorite entry to that month's challenge came from the very talented Charles Huettner. Aside from the sci-fi elements, the actual interaction that makes up that piece is so banal and ordinary in its repetition that I didn't notice it had looped at first. It plays on the kind of real-life loops we find ourselves in all the time, especially in conversation. The challenge is to do something like that, where the loop serves a purpose.
The bonus to doing loops is that you get to have fun with the form. LoopdeLoop entries are full of interesting ideas and techniques. It's a place to show off and experiment. Also, you can pretty much guarantee people are going to watch your piece a few times through, and that's always nice.