The Way Home in the Animation Spotlight

animator Erick Oh Interview with Animator Erick Oh
Creator of "The Way Home"

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We love "The Way Home" because we're simply amazed by the nine minutes of beautiful classic animation. So much work - and so elegantly and professionaly done. Plus, no animation will fly without a great story, and this one kept us entertained.

When did you first become interested in doing animation? I’ve loved animation my entire life. As an artist with a background in Fine Art with experience in other mediums such as painting, illustration, etc, I consider animation to be one of the greatest art forms to convey my thought and feeling to others. It allows me to express whatever I want with the message as well as the style, ranging from narrative to abstract or traditional to experimental.

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Watch "The Way Home"
How did you get started? I made my first animated film my senior year for a graduate exhibition. Since I was in a painting based Fine Arts program, I was self-taught by using all the references and videos I could get online and off. It was extremely difficult to learn all of these techniques by myself but I think that experience helped me a lot with establishing a strong and solid foundation in animation.

What do you like about animation? One of the best things about animation is that the tool itself inspires me to blur the boundaries between different mediums. It mixes up great art forms like music, images and narration. The more experience I have in animation, the more respectful I become towards the art.

Also, to me, animation is like an outlet to breathe. When I’m desperate to express something, I just make a sincere art film dealing with my life and philosophy. Sometimes I just have fun playing around with cute little characters. Sometimes I collaborate with other people from a different field to explore a new world.

Who/What are your influences? Everything I see and hear is an inspiration to me. To specifically talk about one of the directors who directly influenced me with ‘Way Home’, I’d like to mention Michael Dudok De-wit, the director of ‘Father and Daughter’.

I was very impressed by what an amazing film he made using the contrast between light and shadow as well as the beauty of blank space with charcoal. By understanding how he made this beautiful film, I wanted to create a whole new world of my own with the calligraphy brush. Leaving the ground in white color, I can show the flow of a day only by changing the sky's color and the tone of the shadow.

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Erick's Portfolio
What inspired your story? I noticed that some stuff I did at the time including ‘Way Home’ has a similarity in topic - dealing with the ‘void’ or ‘nihilism’ and the cycle of life. I think I was like that in those years. This idea regarding life was the first starting point for all these stories and images I came up with later on. I used a dung beetle because it feels like this creature could be a representative symbol of a minority of people who know the true answers of life.

You know, excrement is something we avoid all the time but it can be a seed or fertilizer to give birth to new life. The dung beetle is the one who can really see this aspect of life. I didn’t use this metaphor to draw the story in ‘Way Home’ though. Also, the way he rolls the ball is so cute, isn’t it? I couldn’t resist not making an animation out of him.

What techniques were used? Everything is traditionally animated and hand-drawn on paper. I used 30 frames per second to make the animation more fluent. For the camera and composition, I didn’t use any particular technique. After Effects and Premiere are basically all I used. One of my main concerns was how to set the character and the background together as if they are in the same world since the background images were drawn and painted by calligraphic brush while the characters are by pencil. I solved this problem by controlling the thickness of the lines in the characters.

How long did it take and were there any big challenges? Since I did this film all by myself except for the music, it took me about two years to finish it. Everything was a challenge to me.

Please visit Erick Oh's website to see more info.

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