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January 2018: A Hedgehog's Visit

The animated short A Hedgehog's Visit by Kariem Saleh (graduate animation) follows the story of a hedgehog trying to confess his love. Keep reading to find out why Kariem wasn't able to look out of his window during the concept phase.

"I created A Hedgehog’s Visit during my third year of studies at Animationsinstitut. After my second year, I felt so overworked that I decided to take a break for a year and a half and go back to working as a freelance artist instead of realizing my own projects. When I came back to Filmakademie in Ludwigsburg, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and how to utilize the courses for myself. I had skipped the third year production of the ITFS festival trailers. Instead I decided to create an animated short film. I set myself the goal to finish it until the end of the semester. Under this condition, institute director Andreas Hykade agreed to the project.

At that time, I started using a technique I used to call the "window board." I scribbled my ideas onto post-its and sticked them to the window in my room. I decided that I would not take them off before I was ready to start production on the film. Unfortunately, this took longer than expected. At the end of the semester, I still didn’t have much more than a few written words and some sketches. As a result I wasn‘t able to look out of my window anymore for the rest of the semester. When my personal deadline was getting closer, I locked myself into a room at Animationsinstitut, started carving rocks out of foam and built a physical miniature set. Then I digitalized it by using photogrammetry, a technique that was quite new around that time and available as a freeware online-service. I created the main character in the computer, animated three shots and managedget 30 seconds done, to present it at the end of the semester. After seeing this test clip and a photo of my window being covered in post-its, Andreas Hykade gave me the opportunity to keep working on the film. Now I was finally able to take off the post-its from my window.

Over the following eight months, we realized the short film step by step. By then, Heiko Schulze had joined me as a producer. Florian Greth and Silke Finger did the compositing, and helped immensely to create and finish the film. Over all, it took us 12 months to produce the short from start to finish.

A Hedgehog’s Visit means a lot to me. The film keeps reminding me of the many obstacles that I needed to overcome, to start making movies again after two years of being unsure about what I wanted to achieve in animation. During our next project Song of a Toad, we developed the photogrammetry process further, since it allowed us to digitalize physical miniature sets quickly. On A Hedgehog’s Visit this particular style was born more out of a coincident, when I tried to quickly get some rendered footage out in less than three weeks.

At the moment I work at Rise FX in Berlin as an animator and 3D artist. Together with friends and colleges we will start a small company called RainDogs Gbr in early 2018. The company is aiming at realising projects in the field of animation, VFX and film as well as makeup, miniature and animatronic effects. We are currently working on developing several short-film and VR projects. Again the fundamental idea will be to create and build as much as possible manually in the workshop and to use the charming aspects of practical effects and setbuilding to combine this with the benefits of digital tools and technology".