Zemni Animation: Experimental Portfolio

My animation research and experiments are practice-based, aiming to help me develop a coherent and distinctive ‘Zemni Voice’ and manageable workflow for my own independent animation practice.

All the animations in the portfolio aimed to clearly reflect, integrate and valorise ‘community voices’ as represented by drawings, photographs, video and other contextual material from participatory workshops on empowerment with women and men in:

  • Uganda
  • DRCongo
  • India
  • Pakistan.

The community voices in the research were selected from many other sets of primary resources from Asia, Africa and Latin America (see my professional blog: https://gamechangenetwork.org/) because of:

  • the diversity, dynamism and narrative power of drawing styles.
  • poignancy of the stories and relevance for a global audience.
  • access to sufficient contextual resources – either my own or on-line to construct authentic narratives.

Through a ‘bricolage’ research process I identify a range of workable creative animation and moving image approaches and strategies combining digital and physical media that:

  • are visually driven so that they can be globally understood without relying on text or spoken languages, and thereby needing translation into hundreds of local languages.
  • communicate not only the style but also the meaning of the original sources.
  • can be used by an independent animator like myself who does not have the support of a large design or animation team and/or budget.

Producing professional finished animations was outside the timeframe of this research. The aim was rather to develop an experimental portfolio based on/integrating the community workshop outputs including:

  • different animation and moving image vignettes representing different approaches and interpretations as a basis for discussion with potential audiences/clients about their animation preferences and needs.
  • specific combinations of moving image approaches to develop 1 minute documentary animation drafts and animatics appropriate to narratives suggested by the community workshops and/or my contextual documentation.

As an independent animator wishing primarily to produce my own animations alongside other professional and creative work while managing RSI, I was interested in exploring:

  • visual narrative strategies for very short textless 1 minute animations, including animations that can be downloaded by viewers on mobile phone without the need for translation.
  • ways of working with physical media: integrating drawing, painting, printmaking, photography and video.
  • combining different digital software and techniques that could vary my computer work, including iPad, TVPaint, Adobe Animate, After Effects and Premiere.

I also needed to take an objective and long-term perspective to developing artistic and technical skills for animation work – and also keep an open mind as to whether my research would lead me to conclude that the tasks I set myself were not possible.

1: Mary’s Story, Uganda

Draft Animation
‘Herstory’ : Mary’s story of a cycle of disempowerment, overwork and lack of property rights and unhappiness in a polygamous marriage.

Animation from community drawings and sketches from role play and contextual photos by women and men in a Fair Trade coffee co-operative in Eastern Uganda. Draft Animatic January 2021.

‘Mary’s Story’: Experimental Vignettes
Woman Walking with Cow 4 Red Eyes
TVPaint. Refining the Stop Start animation with the cow running off the screen.
Coloured ink cartoon style
Coloured fractured shape style
Animatic 1 November 2020: Monochrome version with a coffee overlay instead of the coloured gouache texture, and try some drawings in coffee to see how this would look. I can also add blurs and effects to look more like actual drawings in coffee/sand art.!!
Try marker on paper write-on drawings and Rybczynski Imagine push narrative strategies. Use head or photo for the repeated push.
Animatic 2 April 2021 more developed colour version.

Made with Padlet

2: ‘Tupa Tupa’, DRCongo

Draft animatic
‘Coffee reality play’: What happened to the coffee money? Women do 70% of the agricultural workl in coffee, but because men own the land they control the coffee money. 60-70% men admit to spending this money on alcohol, gambling and girlfriends in town. This often leads to fights with much of the money – even land leases – going to police and lawyers.
‘Tupa Tupa’: Experimental Vignettes

Role play photos by women and men in a Fair Trade Cooperative in DRCongo animated as cut-out puppets and collage/photo-montage in Procreate and Premiere. Future work will include collage stop motion, and digital puppet animation in Photoshop and After Effects.


Made with Padlet

2: Pig Lament, India

Draft animation
Poverty is not romance: drawings, photos and found video animated using rotoscoping and transformation techniques and watercolour and ink styles in TVPaint composited in Adobe After Effects and Premiere. Draft Animatic January 2021.

Tribal women in West Bengal receiving grants for livestock from an international NGO start with dreams but draw many obstacles to success in getting out of poverty.


Pig Tales: Experimental Vignettes
Nuri Yorstein Stop Motion puppet cut-out adding watercolour effects from Takahata.
Jonathon Hodgson rotoscope.
Gottfried Mentor: lighthearted colourful, playful ‘Goat Idyll’ sequence

Made with Padlet

4: The Airplane

Animation possible opening clip
Disintegration of Dreams: drawings, photos and found video using build-up, erasure and transformation in physical media, TVPaint and Adobe Premiere. Draft Animatic January 2021

Women in a micro-finance programme in Pakistan draw their dreams, but also how many of them are driven to suicide by having too many children and violence and addiction of their husbands. The men also have dreams, but are trapped, leading to behaviour they are ashamed of.


The Airplane: Experimental vignettes
Very simple shape-based 2D animation in style of Marjane Satrapi. Combining monochrome with some colour as visions fade. Adobe Animate or iPad.
Stylised found video footage (short clip here) in style of Catherine Anyango. After Effects
Stop Motion puppet animation from gouache ‘accident’ painting in style of Nuri Yorstein and David Lynch. Proceate on iPad. (fpor
Shadow animation for threats and violence. Inspired by silhouette drama of William Kentridge and stop motion cutout animation. TVPaint with gouache texturing.
Stylised found video footage (short clip here) in style of Ng’endo Mukii. After Effects
Fantasy Stop Motion cutout of woman piloting airplane using gouache and/or charcoal animation in style of William Kentridge and David Lynch Pozar and Burka Avenger, Shirin Neshat

Made with Padlet