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The Forgotten Witch – Barbara Zdunk

2018 // Adult, Childrens, Documentary, Educational Film, Informational Film, Short Film, Student Film, CGI, Digital 2D, Experimental, Traditional 2D


Dir: Catherine Noone

What is the film about?

Animated short following the story of the Prussian woman convicted of arson and witchcraft in 1811, Barbara Zdunk. Created using 2D and 3D techniques as well as hand drawn and digital illustration.

What influenced it?

My influences have always been the old surreal films, the dream like quality of animations like ‘Inspiration’ by Karel Zemon to the impeccable detail and quality of the Betty Boop black and white animations. However, I have also always been a big fan of paintings, in particular the old masters and the Pre-Raphaelites. I really wanted to test out these different styles, like realism mixed with the surreal and bring it into the 21st Century with the different techniques I tried.

A little background information...

I really wanted this film to become a memorial for Barbara Zdunk. It is part of a larger project looking back on persecuted and forgotten women in history, and in particular, those accused of witchcraft and who were not given a peaceful and respectable end or resting place. This film is NOT to be seen as yet another film about witches, a topic which is ever increasingly popular today, especially in a fashionable, cool way. It is, however, meant to act as an educational piece, where we can show our respects and remember that although the craze of Witch Hunts across Europe was so long ago, it was also very real – which I wanted to really show in this film. I want the audience to feel as though they are in the life of Barbara Zdunk.

How was the film made?

For this film, I used a large variety of techniques. Taking inspiration from realism and my love for pencil, detailed drawings, all of the backgrounds in this animation are hand drawn. For the characters in this piece I created 3D models made of masking tape to create texture, and hand made small outfits for them also. The faces on the characters are digitally animated over the top of the models, tracking human features on the top to bring my models to life and to really give them the sense of a human feel. To bring these techniques all together, I edited them in After Effects, adding 3D camera techniques to add movement and depth, but not too much to make it confusing for the viewer, Simple movement for the viewer to focus on the poem and the words spoken.

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