How The Oscar-Nominated Short “Negative Space” Pushes Boundaries

How do you begin to show the enormous, transformative nature of a father-son relationship? One ingenious short, “Negative Space”, tackles this theme in an unlikely way — through packing.

With completely enchanting visuals and a story pulled from the lovely Ron Koertge poem, “Negative Space” shows an unusual form of father-son bonding, the deep connection formed through unspoken gestures and tiny moments of recognition. From creators Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter, an American animation team, it packs a stunning amount of emotion into such a small space.

You can see the whole film here:

It’s a powerful film — made even more so when you hear some of the thought process behind it, like how much attention was paid to animating the clothes.

“When the waves come up on shore, and it’s all clothing, we had to actually put Plasticine inside the clothing so we could animate the wrinkles with control,” Porter told Cartoon Brew. “This is a decision we made early on, which was that the clothing would be more animated and more vibrant than the people. We thought this summed up the story very well, that the people were a little bit cold, a little bit detached, but [the father and son] are able to connect through the expressiveness of what was inside the suitcase.”

Like the best short films, so much is said in the most compact and cleverest of ways.