Animation studio Nice Shit on its bold and minimal narratives

Nice Shit animation for Primavera Sound’s My Favourite Music Memory

Carmen, Rodier and Guido are three freelancers who came together over their love of animation.

All meeting in the same studio in Buenos Aires in Argentina, they teamed up to create their beloved Nice Shit Studio – an independent animation studio based in Barcelona, which now picks up work for CocaCola, Airbnb, Google and Vodafone to name a few brands.

The trio – a mix from Italy and Argentina – spend their time creating detailed character narratives, taking care of everything from scripting, storyboarding to animation, music and sound design. Nice Shit animate everything from black-and-white line drawings for MTV to a positively colour-overdosed, surreal narrative recounting Interpol’s Daniel Kessler’s 'favourite music memory'  for the Primavera Sound music festival (which also became a Vimeo Staff Pick). Essentially, it’s all really nice shit.

Rodier is a self-taught designer and illustrator. Guido comes from industrial and product design and also self-taught in the animation field. Carmen studied Fashion Design in Milan but she got into animation during her MA at Hyper Island in Stockholm. They met in 2013 in Argentina. By that time they were working in the same studio in Buenos Aires after experiencing a bit of freelance life.

We talk to Nice Shit about its bold, minimal style, its love of 2D animation, and some core animation principles.

Miriam Harris: How would you describe your animation style?

Carmen: "Graphic, bold, minimal. Those can be some keywords. Ninety percent of the time that we give feedback to each other it’s, "take that out", or "we don’t need that". We like it a lot when we communicate a lot, with very few elements.

"We also like to believe we do some sort of clever animation. We enjoy and relay a lot of the thinking behind every decision, and feel pretty good when we manage to communicate complex things with the most simple actions. This economy also seems to work well with our small structure and allows us to keep it this way. Cosy, right?

"Characters are definitely a big part of our work, they are the stars of the show."

Check out Nice Shit's animation for its client ZenSmith.  

MH: What’s been your favourite animation project so far and why?

Rodier: "We’ll have to name two here – the one for Primavera Sound and the MTV ident (see below).

The reason why we are pointing out these two is the same. In both we had complete control and a lot of freedom, the chance to develop everything.

"We are very keen on storytelling and creating these little worlds. The sooner we enter each project the better the work will be, and if we have control of concept and script, even better."

MH: What are some basic animation principles you tend to follow for each project?

Guido: "When working with characters, we love to steal as much as we can from film and cinematic resources, trying to create sensations and moods with different shots, cameras and editing.

"We often find ourselves setting a lot of rules and conditions for each project. Almost as if they were obstacles. For example, we say "can’t use more than four colours" or "only three sizes of shots" – it seems to work for us.

"Mostly, we try to keep things simple."

Nice Shit animation for ZenSmith
Nice Shit animation for ZenSmith

MH: Tell me about the animation for Primavera Sound’s My Favourite Music Memory.

Carmen: "We had moved the studio from Buenos Aires to Barcelona only a few months back, and this was the first email we received in Catalán, so the first thing we did was copy-and-paste it to Google Translate. It was a beautiful surprise.

"The first thoughts were to realise that this was an amazing opportunity, the perfect type of project we were chasing. We are big fans of the California Inspires Me and The Junction series to name a few, and besides enjoying all those amazing videos, we always had the "I wanna do one of those" feeling.

"Our great friends at Device had done the first one in the series a while ago. This was such a beautiful thing that lit the fire for the rest of the episodes. It felt really nice being part of the selected Barcelona-based studios, we couldn’t have asked for a better welcome gift.

"We usually get a written script but in this case the recording came first. We did the first edit on it and then typed it up, then, we worked on the storyboarding for two to three weeks until we were all happy with it and moved to the next stages.

"We were trying to tell a sensitive story, a human one – moving in a slow pace but keeping it interesting. We always kept in mind that this wasn’t a commercial piece, that there was no need to be literal and it was more powerful to create a whole sensation and mood than to translate each word to images."

Watch the animation below.

Nice Shit animation for Primavera Sound
Nice Shit animation for Primavera Sound
Nice Shit animation storyboards for Primavera Sound

MH: What’s important to consider when it comes to character design?

Guido: "Every detail created for each character says something about it.

"Big or small, square or rounded, curved or straight.. Is it going to move fast, or slow? Is it child-like or adult? Every shape and detail give you a hint about his or her personality. So before creating characters we have to create personalities."

Nice Shit character design for MTV
Nice Shit character design for MTV

MH: You explain yourselves as detail freaks – how does this play into your animation process?

Rodier: "A lot of our work has very few elements on screen, so we take good care of these. When a character is made out only by a sphere with two eyes, the distance between the eyes, the scale, the position, a few pixels, can all make so much difference!"

MH: What advice would you have for working as a creative team?

Gudio: "To be committed. The three of us are really different in so many ways, but, at the end of the day we know we are in this together and we are all pushing in the same direction."

Nice Shit animation for Primavera Sound

MH: What are some short-term goals for Nice Shit?

Carmen: "We just signed with the good chaps at Jelly London for UK representation so we are definitely excited about that, and seeing what the British market has for us.

"We also moved to a new space here in Barcelona, above the mythical Razzmatazz and we are designing and building the whole space from the ground. We are totally thrilled by all this and now that we have some extra desks, it might be time to grow the Nice Shit family a little bit."

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