Treat Your Eyeballs with the Best of 5 Second Day Animations

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As Titmouse gear up for their 2020 screenings, we look back on some highlights and find how these short bursts are igniting creativity
Treat Your Eyeballs with the Best of 5 Second Day Animations
When it comes to killer cartoons, Titmouse know their stuff. They’re the animation powerhouse behind cartoons like Big Mouth, Venture Bros., the Spider Ham short, Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart and as well as blockbuster music videos like Jay-Z’s The Story of OJ [which Titmouse collaborated on with The Mill]. But while they’re known for their huge hits, their secret lies in making space for their talented teams to let loose with some quick, dirty fun.

In 2008, Titmouse co-founders Shannon and Chris Prynoski launched 5 Second Day. It was one day put aside for their filmmakers to blow off steam and flex their creative muscles. Originally the brief was that people had one day to make an animation of at least five seconds. These days, it’s an explosion of imagination and boundary-pushing humour. The animations have edged up to about a minute each in length, and have become complex stories. And while, originally, the films were made to amuse and entertain colleagues, these days 5 Second Day has amassed a cult following among cartoon fans. Titmouse now take each year’s output on tour – this Friday there’s a screening in LA (tickets here) and on March 6 they head to New York (tickets here), and on March 13th they'll host an event in Vancouver.

We caught up with some 5 Second Day veterans to check out their proudest moments and what they’ve gained from the annual super short cartoon cavalcade.

Ben Meinhardt, Senior Animator, Titmouse Vancouver



“More” is about a donkey who farts balloons out his butt and the children who love him.
I can't really say what the inspiration for this was besides it was made shortly after the 2016 US elections and after wrapping up a particularly trying gig. It was born of indigestion.


“Shadowmaker” is about a little fellow who thinks his ability to cast a shadow is cool. This one is definitely inspired by my then 5-year-old son. What is so awesome and earnestly exciting for a new person has become mundane for us adults.
  
What do you most like about 5 Second Day?
A hard deadline.

What have you learned or gained by participating in 5 Second Day? 
I hadn't really done too much voice acting in my shorts until these films and that was new territory for me. Another film I did was almost all dialogue where I acted the part of an old lady, "It should be Easy."

I think the original intent and spirit of 5-second day is a pretty special thing. I hope as Titmouse expands and grows, they manage to hold on to that vibe. 


Allison Craig, Director 

I'm based in Kentucky and work offsite with Titmouse NYC. (I lived/worked for Titmouse in LA for 6 years, moved back home to KY about 7 years ago and have been working for Titmouse from Kentucky ever since).

"Rollin' In It" follows the journey of one dog as he navigates through the various perfumes of life. In my 5 second day history, if my short isn't about a unicorn, it's most likely about a dog. This particular short was inspired by our dog, Teenie, and how she would find the most miniscule, smelly thing and roll all over it. Who knew that a solitary dead worm could make your dog smell like manure? Good dog!

What do you most like about 5 Second Day?
What I love about 5 Second Day is that it breaks me out of my usual routine and really forces my brain to dive deep and be creative. I'm usually pretty wrapped up in day to day projects, so it gets me back into idea mode. You know how you come up with the best ideas while you're doing the most mundane things? Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc. This doesn't happen often enough for me these days, but when 5 Second Day comes around, it does happen. And it is a rejuvenating feeling!

What did you learn or gain by participating in 5 Second Day? 
I've learned a lot from 5 Second Day! Usually we're quite specialized, for instance: backgrounds are not my forte, but 5 Second Day forces you to try your hand at something new or to collaborate, and either way it's a winning situation. I'm now 10% less afraid of painting backgrounds!

How has 5 Second Day evolved?
I've been at Titmouse for a while now, so I've experienced 5 Second Day from 13 years ago and it is mind-boggling how far it has come. We used to actually just spend the one day on our shorts. You'd get a walk cycle or a funny dance or someone pooping. Now they've become complex films with plots and everything. Some really beautiful stuff comes out of this event (poop shorts included!) and it's quite amazing.

Mac Kerman, Animation Director, Titmouse Vancouver



“Gunman: The Man Made of Guns” The only way to stop a man with a gun, is with a man made of guns.

He is not the hero we need, but he is perhaps the hero we deserve.  Impervious to thoughts and prayers, Gunman is not here to solve gun violence, he IS gun violence.

“Gunman” was based on a comic I had drawn when I was about five years old. I hadn't thought about it for roughly 20 years until I was racking my brain for 5 Second Day ideas. I almost died of laughter at how stupid the concept was and knew I had to make it into a reality.

Over the last seven years since I created the short, I feel like the satire has become painfully more poignant.

What do you like most about 5 Second Day?
It’s hard to pinpoint what I like most about 5 Second Day.  It’s a swirling nebula of warm fuzzy feelings.

I love making cartoons for a living, but animating other people's ideas every day can zap the creative juices.  5 Second Day gives everyone a chance to flex their artistic muscles.

For the most part, it’s a friendly creative free-for-all but also a sense of low-key competition amongst all the artists which drives everyone to do their best.  I’ve heard a lot of people compare the feeling of buzzing creativity to film school, only now we’re all able to bring our professional experience and know-how to the table when making our films.

It’s an intoxicating mix of animation Christmas, the Oscars, the SATs, and the Hunger Games all rolled into one.  Doesn’t that just sound like the best?

What did you learn or gain by participating in 5 Second Day? 
5 Second Day is my version of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

A few years before I joined Titmouse, I had taken on a large freelance animation project that I was not ready for.  Not knowing what I was doing, I crashed and burned pretty hard and it destroyed my creative confidence in myself for years afterwards.

Because of this, I had actually skipped out on my first two chances at participating in 5 Second Day. I was still fresh out of school and had major performance anxiety of having to compare myself to other more seasoned artists.  

Deciding to create Gunman was a spur of the moment decision and I tried not to overthink it and just enjoy the creative process.  I was able to get a few workmates to help me on the project, so it was also my first time leading a team on a creative project.

While not a crowning artistic or technical achievement, “Gunman” was a blast to make and got a really solid reaction from the audience at the screening.  That positive experience restored my confidence in myself as an artist and helped me re-learn how to enjoy the highs and lows of the creative process.

I don’t know that I would have been able to get there on my own without the opportunities Titmouse gives its artists with 5 Second Day.  I will always be thankful to Chris and Shannon for that.

Can you tell I have a lot of feelings about this?

Do you have anything to add?
If anyone reading this enjoyed “Gunman,” you should check out “Gunman 2” which I made the same year and was screened a few shorts after Gunman.  I tried to make it feel like a completely different cartoon that Gunman invaded so afterwards people would be on their toes knowing Gunman might randomly barge into any of the other short films.



Michael Moloney


I was previously at Titmouse as Supervising Director on "MaoMao: Heroes of Pure Heart."  Worked on a variety of shows at Titmouse Hollywood as animator, storyboard artist and director since 2008.  

"The Beautiful Ocean" is about a deep sea diver who falls in love with a mermaid but his limitations catch up with him. All while set to fun goofy dance music.  

I was inspired by "The Perry Bible Fellowship,'' a newspaper comic strip and webcomic by Nicholas Gurewitch. His comics have a wonderful “sleeper joke” humor where the punchline is understated, usually visual, and can flip the premise on its head.  I wanted the audience to think this was a happy cartoon world but then (in a funny way), destroy it. 

Titmouse has access to an audio library called audionetwork.com.  They have a huge selection of genre music (anyone can visit this site and I recommend checking it out for inspiration).  One of the songs had a "Under the Sea" quality to it (from Disney's "Little Mermaid"). I merged these two inspirations together and "The Beautiful Ocean" was born.

The backgrounds were designed by Brandon Cuellar, one of the best background artists working in TV animation today.  5 Second Day is really a unique experience to have at a studio. Most places only care that you are a specialist at whatever (backgrounds, animation, storyboarding).  

What do you like most about 5 Second Day?
The problem solving that comes from making a short. You are only given one workday to make the 5 Second Day short. I made "The Beautiful Ocean" in two days, so you have to be smart with your time.  You have to think about how many backgrounds you are using, each time you add a background, it diminishes the quality of your other backgrounds. Limiting the color palette is helpful. Making your character three colours instead of six means you will spend half as much time coloring.  Having cycles in the animation, allows you to get the most out of your drawings. If you watch my short, you will see how many times I reuse fish dancing cycles. Many times these limitations create a much more clear story/joke; it's amazing to see how effective it is to plan ahead.

What did you learn or gain by participating in 5 Second Day? 
So many artists in animation have story ideas in their heads and always think "If only I had time to make it".  5 second day gives you that time and you get to experience an audience watching it in real time (something so unique in today's world of youtube and steaming).  It also showcases skills and ability that might of been hidden before. After screening my first short many of the higher ups realized I knew how to tell a story and had potential to become a director.  It really helped expedite my career.

Titmouse gives you a chance to show off what your passion is about - it's an amazing and fun opportunity.



Alexandria Kwan, Storyboard Artist

I’m currently at Disney TVA in LA working on Owl House. Previously on Amphibia and Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart.


Chasing Sunlight is about a shallot family grows together as four seasons pass, which feels like a lifetime for tiny veggie folk.

How did you come up with the idea for the short? 
5 Second Day is a notorious work holiday that begs us artists to search deep within ourselves and ask, "do you have any ideas?" I'd always been wracking my brain with Brian Ellis, my partner, about how best to tell a short story. It felt daunting to make something comedic, let alone to make something sad and hopeful. Added to the difficulty was the short measure of how much we could animate in our off time within a month. (We are given a paid day off work to do whatever we could within a day, but if we wanted to do more, we could animate in our off time before it was due.) We'd always wanted to make something with these little veggie folk, and to tell a story about grief and moving forward. It wasn't easy, a lot of nights and weekends spent tirelessly animating with the help from our friends who also believed in us. Nothing can quite compare to that feeling, but it definitely wasn't for the faint of heart.

What do you most like about 5 Second Day?
My favorite moment is the day everyone turns in their shorts. Because everyone is so goddamn impatient, everyone takes a peek at the shorts on the server as soon as they are loaded. People have their secret animation crushes and want to see what they came up with in the same amount of time. It is the hot bed for messaging all your favorites and telling them what a good job they did, across the three studios. It really is like Christmas morning. I remember being flooded with comments from my peers, all compliments to say the similar sentiment: "I cannot believe you did that." or "You made me choke up at my desk." We honestly didn’t expect to receive such warm thoughts!

What did you learn or gain by participating in 5 Second Day? 
5 Second Day taught us to have faith in our ability to collaborate and lead. It gave us the desire to learn how to tell better stories. Before, we were animators who had just begun our adventure delving into storyboards. Now, we have both pushed ourselves into storytelling through pitches and boarding. Most of all, we learned how important it was to work with people who believe in your ideas. No matter what the circumstances, the best art came from those who believed in the material.


 

Brian Pak, Animation Director/Sneakerhead/Catlover/Spicy Eater, Baron/Count/Master

 
I don't make them, but I also do. 

[Editor's note: Not everyone is blessed with enthusiasm for 5 Second Day, and to date Brian has yet to do one himself - so the team take it upon themselves to make one on his behalf...]
A few “best of examples”:
5 Second Day

Soft Serve

DOGPISS
 

Will Feng, how do you recruit people for this inside joke? 

via GIPHY

 
Brian, what do you like most about 5 Second Day? 


via GIPHY



What did you learn or gain by participating in 5 Second Day? 
EVERYTHING

via GIPHY


Do you have anything to add?
Keep dancing.


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Genres: Animation

Titmouse, 3 months ago