Let imagination and memory fly with discipline – Yves Francois

For Yves Francois, animation is the hub of his childhood and memory. Although he started with illustration and learnt animation quite late in his education, his determination and passion led him to go far in pursuing his interest.

“I’ve spent my second year doing a short animated film at the Royal College of Art. It was difficult sometimes given my lack of knowledge in animation. Even though the project had some beginner mistakes, I was happy with the result,” said Yves.

It is really easy to find out there are two elements appearing frequently in Yves’ work: surroundings and the colour blue. He explained that he is borrowing a child’s angle to view things because it is fresh and honest, without too many stereotypes.

“When I first applied to the Royal College of Art I was asked for an identity picture. I was late with the paperwork so I just sent a low-resolution portrait from a web camera the night before which looked blue. Afterwards this image was on my student card and all the trombinoscope taped on doors. Some students made fun of it and called me “blue guy.” I found it funny and thought of making a blue character. Since then I’ve used this colour in many projects, maybe its part of my atmosphere now and I actually don’t really notice it!”

Taking a deeper look at Yves’ works, they look hand-drawn and like he dedicated a lot of time to each piece. Although animation is inevitably correlated to computer graphics and its process since the tool to link all pieces together are essential, Yves has another thought about it.

“I didn’t like too much computer-generated images at the beginning because I think computer graphics would not be strong enough to show personality. Then for my animation I started with computer to save time. The result looked all right. So now I would say that I prefer traditional techniques when doing my research but I like to add computer generated elements for a more finalised project.”

Yves starts with the meaning and ideas behind a project, and then continues with the form. He likes to find his work containing reality and fantasy elements along the evolution of the project. “Style is not something you need to work on first, it just comes little by little when you keep working.”

About a musician trying to find back his inspiration, linking his ideas, memories and dreams together, Neighbouring Thoughts is Yves’ final project. He said it was his “most completed project.”

One probably could not imagine how long Neighbouring Thoughts, the seven minute long animated project took. It actually took Yves 6 months to find a storyline, do research, make a storyboard and production, which includes animation, sound design and editing. Some scenes w ere even shortened due to deadline.

“Animation is a time consuming and repetitive medium which demands a lot of effort in terms of organisation. One must fix their own deadlines for each scene in order to make it. It also makes one feel lonely because one would be fully occupied with it. If I could make it more detailed and in-depth, I could easily spend another 5 months on it,” said Yves.

As for his inspiration, Yves said, “I like this short moment in the morning where you’re waking up but still out of a dream. It’s a bit confusing and you’re making strange associations of ideas. I often have inspirational moments in this way. Reading is another source of inspiration since I see what has been done before me. All elements of good general knowledge are what allow you to have any ideas in the first place.”

Making use of his illustration experience in animation production, Yves said the way of presentation is very different: while illustration has to be direct and straight-forward, animation allows one to develop an idea although the process is repetitive.

“Right now I might say I prefer animation more because it’s a newer medium for me, but I know I will come back to illustration soon, so I can’t choose between them. I like both for different reasons.”

Looking forward to the future, Yves has different plans such as a comic book and even a full-length animation movie.

“I wish I could do the movie one but with a big team behind me, so I could be the director and focus on the part which interests me and leave the boring part to others!”

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