10 must-see VFX short animations

Shelley Page is head of international outreach at DreamWorks Animation, she has worked in feature animations since 1986 on movies such as Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

Here she lists the shorts that have moved, charmed and impressed her most. So, sit back and click your way through a dazzling cast of noisy dogs, wolves, eggs, chickens and crashing trains.

01. Wedding cake

Set on top of a wedding cake a marzipan couple tries to make their marriage work, but 'cracks in the icing' soon start to appear!

Earlier in 2014 this delightful film was awarded Best Student Film at the 41st Annie Awards in LA – and it continues to gather many more international awards. The quality of the design and animation is amazing – but what really lifts this film above the rest for me is the wickedly accurate observation of a relationship under stress.

02. Nebula

In a mist-filled landscape a child has an encounter with a fabulous beast. A lyrical fantasy with ambitious CG character effects, this film is beautifully designed and animated.

  • Studio: Gobelins L'École de L'Image, France
  • Team: Camille Andre, Marion Bulot, Clement Duranlo, Myriam Fourati, Jungboix Jonghyun, Alexis Kerjosse, Sarah Simon

03. Rollin' Wild 2

Meerkats, eagle chicks and reindeer – the round animals return! Here are three new micro-shorts in the ever-popular Rollin' Wild series from the very talented student team at the Filmakademie.

04. Car Park

A lone shopper confronts a noisy dog safely confined in a parked car – or so he thinks! Completely hilarious! Director and animator Ant Blades is a master of comic situations and timing – his latest short film will be a favourite at festivals for years to come.

05. Carn

A stunning and bleak film about desperate choices in the face of death. A dying wolf makes a deadly pact with a lost and freezing child.This is an austere and chilling story – the striking graphic visual style perfectly complements the darkness of the tale. Films that pack this degree of power in the storytelling are very unusual – and memorable.

  • Studio: Emile Cohl, France
  • Director: Jeff Le Bars

06. Denise

Beautiful design and animation, coupled with an unusual central character, impressed me when I saw Denise, from the student talents at Supinfocom in France.

Denise, an overweight young tourist on a cruise ship, follows an impulse and scrambles ashore onto a mysterious island. In a deep cave she finds an unexpected connection to an earlier culture. This film struck me immediately for the wonderful design and unusual main character – but what makes it truly memorable is the excellent direction and storytelling.

  • Studio: Supinfocom, France
  • Team: Marion Bordeyne, Romain Chalvidan, Margaux Faure, Bastien Boutte, Quentin Schall, Benjamin Jean

07. Chicken or the Egg

A 'screwball' romantic comedy about a gentleman pig with a passion for eating eggs – but when he falls in love with a cute chicken he faces a tough choice – the Chicken or the Egg! Great character animation and a witty and fast-paced storyline make this film a winner with all audiences – even vegetarians!

08. Rugby Bugs

These persistent bugs are determined to achieve their goal – no matter what! Another eye-popping VFX festival trailer from the Filmakademie, with 'outtakes' to match!

09. Phosphoros

A flying insect brings an unexpected light into the darkness. ”This 'micro-short' is another in the series of exceptional VFX festival ident 'trailers' made by students at the Filmakademie as part of their project studies. What makes this one stand out is the stunning simplicity of the concept and the brilliant technical quality of the final film. The perfect example of 'less is more'.

10. Engrenage

A man is in a race for survival in a hostile world – but can he still distinguish reality from imagination? This is a powerful and exciting film combining live-action and CG elements to great effect. Good art direction and a convincing performance from the actor playing the main character are key to the success of this story.

  • Studio: ArtFx, France
  • Team: Swann Chesnel, Leonard Merci

Words: Shelley Page

Shelley Page is head of international outreach at DreamWorks Animation, she has worked in feature animations since 1986 on movies such as Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. Follow DreamWorks Animation on Twitter at @DWAnimation.

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