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In this feature we've visited some of the top schools to find a selection of incredible 3D shorts, all released this year. Showcasing a blinding array of talent, they'll make you laugh, cry and, in some cases, shudder. But, trust us, you won't want to miss any. Enjoy!
01. My Big Brother
My Big Brother was created by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) student Jason Rayner (opens in new tab). As the title suggests, this is the tale of two brothers, one of whom is not only biologically older but physically gigantic.
Visually stunning, Rayner created the short's distinctive block modelling style using open source 3D software Blender. Having learnt it from an early age, Rayner used Blender for all the project's modelling work, with the rest of production carried out in Maya. Photoshop was also utilised heavily for concept art and storyboards, and compositing was handled in Nuke.
Japanese horror in sheer force, TSUME tells the tale of a vain, self-obsessed schoolgirl whose desperate attempts to avoid a less attractive classmate ends in accidental tragedy.
The graduation piece pulls together the animation and compositional skills of students David Broner, Kevin Cordier-Royer, Tristan Jaegly, Vincent Touache, Chien-Chang Wu and Jake Delamare. Twinned with incredibly eerie music by Slava Pogorelsky, TSUME is a creepy masterpiece.
From horror to comedy, short film Escarface is sure to put a huge smile on your face. This funny animated short tells the tale of two seemingly innocent grannies who decide to rob a bank to finance their trip to The Stool Museum.
A brilliant mixture of perfectly executed animation and comic timing, the film was created by Supinfocom students, Eva Navaux, Burcu Sankur, Vincent Meunier, Lionel Arnold, Dario Sabato, Pierre plouzeau.
04. Strange Fruit
This hard-hitting short is a graduation piece by Shimi Asresay and Hili Noy of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. The highly stylised, seven minute tale tells the story of a father and son, who encounter an unfamiliar boy, who is different in colour.
The duo comment on Vimeo: "An allegory to the phenomena of racism as an acquired cultural epidemic, the story discusses the question of the personal conscience of each of us, versus the education we receive from our families and environment." Hard but compelling to watch, this emotive tale bravely addresses some serious issues through sublime 3D animation.
05. Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors
Inspired by the children's game of the same name, Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors was created by Ringling College of Art & Design students Garrett O'Neal, Gang Maria Yi and Bryan Locantore.
It's love at first sight when Rock stumbles upon the magical Paper, but when Scissors threatens the survival of Paper, Rock will do whatever it takes to protect her. Vibrant in colour, rich in detail and high in tension, this beautiful animation will leave you reaching for the tissue box.
06. A New Hue
We've seen a lot of brilliant examples of paper-related art recently, and this charming animation from students George Rigby, Jennifer Hardy and Stephen Tucker of the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University in the UK is no exception
The whimsical tale features a paper girl, who one day discovers a cute character that introduces colour to her colourless, paper world. A beautiful example of flawless animation and texture work, look out for the scene where the bouncy little colour blob fills the white world with gorgeous watercolours.
07. Make It Sound Fat
Directed by seven students of Bellecour Ecoles d'Art: Romwald Bogun, Sébastien Baron, Romain Tinturier, Aurélien Cova, Jorris Minjollet, Pauline Lelarge, and Quentin Lebastard; Make it Sound Fat is six-and-a-half-minutes of beautiful animated chaos.
Monsters, music and mayhem galore, the film features a cocky musician who happens upon a box of delicious donuts, which transports him to a different world where he almost starts the apocalypse. Insane humour, incredible animation and a buzzing soundtrack. The moral of this story? Step away from the donuts.
08. The Incredible Marrec
An epic ocean adventure teamed with some impressive CG animation resulted in this brilliant graduation piece from Ecole supérieure des métiers artistiques students Maxime Moreira, Etienne Devillée, Clément Chaudat, Alexandre Bass and Régis Aillet.
The short centres around a fisherman named Marrec who embellishes his sea adventures to a young lad waiting for him on the dock. The team have done an incredible job here, especially on the lighting and water work. Featuring sharks, mystical creatures and the moon, this magical, underwater world left us longing for more.
09. Locked Up
Supinfocom student Gabriel Grapperon is behind this incredible 97-second photorealistic animation, titled Locked Up. Using a combination of tools from 3ds Max, ZBrush and V-Ray, Grapperon brings two very different toads to life.
While one is content to sit around and wait for his meal to present itself, the other can't resist the buzz of a fly and heads off in chase. An amusing chain of events follows, but does he finally get his meal?
And now for something completekly different. Leucotopia is, quite possibly, one of the most surreal and strangest shorts we've ever seen, but that's part of it's brilliance. At just under 10-minutes long, the film tells the tale of a giant blue man driven by headless chickens through the path of life. Yes, you read that right. Headless. Chickens.
It's a story that makes you wonder how the concept ever came about – a question we'd definitely like to ask it's creators, Supinfocom students Simon Legrand, Céline Hermann, Nicolas Lejeune, Geoffrey Godet and Mehdi Louala. But there's no denying the talent and hard work that went in to this strange but brilliant film.
Register for HP ZED today! (opens in new tab)
This content has been brought to you in association with HP ZED (opens in new tab), a 'pop up shop' for creatives in London's Soho from 29 September - 10 October 2014.
With talks, tutorials and creativity sessions brought to you by top experts from leading studios like Framestore, Double Negative and MPC, as well as HP, Intel and Nvidia, it's going to be a must-attend event for anyone working in motion graphics, animation or 3D. Find out more here! (opens in new tab)