Chris Gavin's stop-motion short film Txt Island has been lavished with praise across animation and design blogs since it first appeared last week. The film combines a clear message about the destructiveness of man with a charming type-based style that uses only a traditional cafe-style pegboard and letters to tell the story. We sat down the director and animator to find out more about the project.
DA: What were the core ideas behind Txt Island?
CG: "There's a pretty clear 'man versus nature' battle going on here. The basic storyline of figures arriving by air and colonizing a tropical paradise is something I wrote three or four years ago. As is the way sometime, the idea was rattling around for a while, but transformed into something else a little bit later on."
DA: Why did you decide to use a pegboard and letters to tell your story?
CG: "First of all there was an element of chance. I found my first pegboard and set of letters in an Islington charity shop a some time ago. I played around with them to create some real-world ASCII-style artworks. I soon needed more materials, so I found the supplier and bought further sets of letters and peg boards."
"I wanted to use the pegboard letters to represent something big -- epic even. I started using the peg letters to shoot some stop-motion tests, and soon realised I could use this as a symbolic shorthand to represent really big scenes that would be prohibitively expensive or time-consuming to create in any other way. For example, a large letter 'O' and two smaller 'X's could become a Chinook helicopter.
"I wanted to have fun with how grandiose and overblown the scenes could become using such basic visual elements. The technique particularly suited crowd scenes rather than the individual character animation, so I started developing the story to depict a large population of figures."
DA: How long did it take to create the piece?
CG: "Looking back at my notebooks, I only started shooting this around October last year -- although I wrote the story outline as the basis of this idea a good three or four years earlier than that. I think this is pretty quick to make an unfunded short film, mostly working in the evenings.