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Five Questions: Animator Eoin Duffy on “The Missing Scarf”

Eoin Duffy, an Irish animator working in Vancouver, wrote and directed "The Missing Scarf," a short film created in conjunction with The Irish Film Board, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, and The Arts Council. The film, featuring a little squirrel who seems to be an origami figure, is produced by Jamie Hogan and is narrated by — score! — Star Trek icon and geek luminary George Takei. The film already won this year's James Horgan Award for Best Animation at the Galway Film Fleadh — an honor that makes it eligible for an Oscar next year — and is currently on the festival circuit. (It will play on September 5 at the LA Shorts Fest.) "Human connection is the true base of my work," Duffy says in his Director's Statement on the film. "I enjoy presenting complex interactions in their most minimalistic form, be it a story without dialog, over-simplified relationships, or the (attempted) meaning of the universe delivered in under one minute." We asked Eoin Duffy five questions about technique, technology, and making it all come together.

Watch the trailer.

 

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Q: Tell us a little about what influences your style, and what inspires you.

A: I take full advantage of the multitude of artistic media available online, both new and old, so it's almost impossible to really nail down influences nowadays. My influences change from week to week. But if I was forced to narrow it down to three big players from back in the day, I would say Saul Bass, Josef Müller-Brockmann, and Genndy Tartakovsky.

Q: Your main character, Albert, seems to be an origami squirrel. Where does that come from?

A: I like low-poly character modelling, and it just so happens that when you reduce a character's mesh to as few points as possible they start to look like paper. So [it was] party accidental and partly modified upon realizing this.

Q: What are the software packages you use for 2D and 3D animation?

A: My go-to 2D program is Adobe Flash. I started mucking around with it years ago, making animated websites. This eventually progressed into motion graphics and eventually animation. The program, along with all its restrictions, is now a vital part of my graphic style. Around the same time I started off in Flash, I discovered Blender 3D, an open-source 3D program freely available online. Its a vastly powerful package that I have only minutely mastered, but the capabilities rival any 3D package on the market. It also has a great community surrounding it.

Q: How did you connect with George Takei, and what was it like working with him?

A: We wanted to attract a known actor to narrate the film. I pieced together a more-polished-than-normal animatic and presented it to him. George loved both the script and the animatics and agreed to join the team. Two weeks later Jamie and I flew to L.A. and recorded George at the iconic Buzzy’s Recording studio. George is the ultimate gentleman, and with the work ethic to match. I remember feeling shame when I compared my energy levels to this 76-year-old man. The guy is an endless furnace of energy. Needless to say, he delivered an amazing performance. It was a great experience!

Q: Where can people see the complete film?

A: The film will be online sometime next year. But for now keep an eye out at your local film festival as we've a pretty comprehensive festival line-up planned. Get updates via our website.

Watch Duffy's previous film, "On Departure," below.

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