Worlds Shapers in focus: Robert Valley

We’ve met Canadian animator Robert Valley at Animest’s “From Comics to Animation” masterclass, the only festival in Romania dedicated to animated film. He’s best known to the Romanian audience by the “Zima Blue” episode from the animated anthology shorts series Love Death + Robots

An enthusiast of his art style is our colleague Alex Tiper who invited us all to attend the masterclass. Alex is a 3D artist with a a genuine passion for stories, fairy tales, myths, philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, all that twists and turns human’s conscience, so Valley’s narratives and visual representations embody all his curiosities. 
He’ll try in his exposé below to take you into The Valley‘s work.

As for the rest of us, we were lucky enough to have met this headstrong artist, loyal to his beliefs and a restless explorer of the powers of drawing. 

He showed us some never seen before sketches that will remain secret, dating even from his early beginnings as an artist, his childhood.

Drawings from his childhood that also appear in his 2017 Academy Award nominated “Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

At the beginning of his career, he used to draw by hand with pencil on paper all shadows, lights, and textures, which was time consuming.
And there came the digital tools. Now he draws a sketch and then he finishes the composition in digital space, an aquired skill. Times are changing and artists get more and more tools to better shape their stories.

As for the economics of resources, he uses characters and ideas from a project to another. I’ve even seen the same woman (frames and animation) both in “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” and in “Shinjuku”, this being his trick in generating an impressive volume of work.

Animation as a senzorial experience
I believe Rob’s a highly sensitive person that reaches to send out sensations through his scenes. I swear I can almost hear the music, feel the crowd, rhythm of his parties, the twists and turns of a broken body, the tobacco smell mixed with the taste of alcohol, and even my eyes hurt by the neon lights of the hospital. To sum up, the Dionysiac desires of life combined with a bearable dose of repulsion. 

Most of his stories are inspired from his personal memories. He exaggerates them through an animation that can better send out the core of that feeling, that particular senzation.
He plays with time and space like in Zima’s interview or the adventures of The Beatles

The characters
His search in finding the right proportions for stylized anatomy had as result exaggerated female and male body shapes that are balanced through suppleness, dynamic perspectives with large camera angles with a lot of diagonals, hard shadows (noir) and subtle gradients. Their caricatural structures are built on an optimal raport face – body that for me express more the ways they live their lives at a sensorial level, leaving the emotional more to be discovered.

I’ve found a lot of symbolism in Rob’s artworks – the corporate soldier or the city monster made out of buildings, enriched by perspectives and extraordinary compositions.

He admits still having trouble with awakening a character through its facial expressions. I, for one, am very curious to see his future animations and observe him ever perfecting that public display of affect.
He also confesses saying no to some projects (Superman, Batman) that didn’t fit his art style even though they we’re pretty sexy, money wise.

Rob is a chill dude with a Seinfeld type of humour that gave us a powerful lecture. Thank you very much, maestro, for inspiring and getting us in the right mood for creation!

Alexandru Tiper, 3D Artist at AMC Romania