Christian Kaufmann finds it difficult to simply do nothing. He constantly wants to devote himself to the next project and create something creative. He was able to indulge this urge during his project-orientated studies at the Animationsinstitut. There, it was primarily short films he realized, but now he is working on a larger series at Studio Soi in Ludwigsburg.
In the following video, we asked Christian right after he had graduated about his time at the institute and his plans for the future.
The 29-year-old studied Animation and realized several short films together with his fellow students. Within the different teams, he usually took on the role of the director. With his film TOWN HALL SQUARE, he then received his diploma in 2022. Congratulations!
Half a year later, we interviewed Christian again to find out how things are going for him and whether he misses anything from his days as a student. He also told us how he celebrated after receiving his diploma. Spoiler: Schnitzel were consumed.
At the moment, I am involved in the production of a larger series. I am not allowed to be more specific about what kind of project it is yet, but it's really cool! During my studies, I mostly made short films, so, being involved in a series like this is a totally new experience. The amount of work and organization involved far exceeds that of a short film. I find it very impressive how Studio Soi structures and implements such a large project, and I can learn a lot from it. In that respect, learning new things has not stopped!
Basically, I work in the studio as a generalist and on the series, I'm currently busy with lighting and compositing. But I've also had the opportunity to work on concepts as part of a pitch, and I'd like to focus more on that in the near future. Generally, the tasks are very versatile. Due to the small size of the studio, it automatically happens that we constantly exchange views about the other projects, new animatics, or scripts. Sometimes, you might just have a small idea and walk into the next room, tell it to someone and suddenly, you find yourself in a detailed discussion about it. After that, you make a few jokes and then you move on.
At the Filmakademie, it was mostly short films, now, I am working on a larger series.Christian Kaufmann, Alumnus Animation
I think on a professional level I will miss getting so much time and support for my own projects. Everyone at the institute is supportive of your ideas, and as a student you really get the freedom—and also the leap of faith—to throw yourself into those ideas. Of course, that's not quite as easy in the "real" market, but we've been given the tools by the Animationsinstitut to take on this challenge.
Besides the professional level though, there is also the personal one. It may sound corny but the Animationinstitut was in many ways more than "just a college." Due to the small size of the campus, you get to know each other very well. Not only the students, but also the staff and lecturers. The atmosphere is characterized by a strong warm-heartedness—the institute definitely felt like a home. But as it always is: There comes a time when you have to move out! The fact that this moment was so beautifully sad only shows what a great time we had at the Animationsinstitut.
Connected to that, of course, is the fact that many friends you have made at the Filmakademie move on and find new homes—just like you do. Certainly, that is important, but the thought remains that it was very unique to build such intense friendships and to experience them so concentrated in one place. That makes me very happy. Of course, the friendships live on. You just have to travel a bit more from now on—provided the trains play along!
To answer the question literally: The very first thing I did together with my friends was to eat a big Wiener Schnitzel with French fries and gravy in the campus restaurant! There were probably also one or two beers involved, with which we toasted to the past six years of studying in Ludwigsburg.
Then it was time to take a break. In the weeks that followed, I finally visited my friends and family back home again. After the intensive work on our diploma project, it was a nice change of pace. We organized our film production very well and therefore, never had any real stress, but a project this big is always on your mind. What problems are we facing at the moment? What has to be finished before the next steps can be taken? That kind of stuff. I think that's just the way it is when you put so much effort and time into your own idea. After all, we ended up spending two years on our diploma film. It's important for me to say, though, that this situation never felt like stress. It was rather very important to all of us in the team that our short film turned out the way we wanted it to! Nevertheless, it was great coming home after this huge project, clear your mind, and go on vacation to simply enjoy the warm summer.
The presentation of Christian's project starts at 18:20.
If I were to use business-speak right now, you could say I had something like a "smooth transition." In the end, there were maybe five or six weeks between my final exam and my first day at work. But that was fine with me because I usually can't stand doing nothing for very long. Usually, after a week or two, I get the feeling that I want to do something useful and creative with my time. So, the short transition period was perfect.
I had already been in contact with a few studios during my last semester and ultimately decided to stay in Ludwigsburg and join Studio Soi. Studio Soi is a small animation studio that was founded in 2003 by some former students of the Animationsinstitut. The studio mainly produces series and short to medium length films for children. The most famous work is probably the animated adaptation of the children's book "The Gruffalo".
The transition from the Animationsinstitut to the studio was not really difficult for me. In addition to the founders being alumni of the Filmakademie, Soi has many employees who also studied there. That is probably why the comfortable atmosphere of the Animationsinstitut transfers to Soi's office. Sometimes, you get the feeling that you are sitting in one of the project rooms. Even the architecture of the studio is almost the same as at the Filmakademie. Overall, the start of my professional life was very pleasant.