Kangmin Kim – the creative mind and stop-motion artist behind the design and animation of the Thrash Lab brand. His level of detail in craft and inventiveness in mixing a variety of techniques is inspiring to watch and learn from. This week his CalArts thesis project – 38-39˚C video spread across the internet and he got a lot of very much deserved attention. Kangmin Kim has taken a moment to talk with Thrash Lab and reveal a bit of his artistic process in this interview below.
What type of creator are you? I would describe myself as an experimental stop-motion artist who loves to play between 2D and 3D space.
What type of content impresses you? 35mm film, mixed media, all of traditional technique to create unique effects, and traditional cultural feel.
What is your most recent accomplishment? My film 38-39˚C is traveling all around the world now such as Sundance Film Festival and Annecy International Animated Film Festival. And my film won the Best Animated Short at Ashland Independent Film Festival. Also, I really enjoyed my recent project in creating the Thrash Lab brand design and animation.
Can you explain your artistic process on developing the idea and story for 38-39˚C? I needed to achieve my academic goal and also stand true to my childhood memories and emotions about bath houses. But all was done without the help of a storyboard and just with my interaction with the lifeless characters and the sets. The research began from the many public bath houses in Korea, with their environment, ambiance and sound. And I experimented with many materials and technique to create beautiful and experimental images. The stop-motion technique was chosen with 2D props and 3D sets complementing the rudimentary form of animation. Therefore, some shots look like drawing animation, some look like stop motion animation. I finished 99% of the film in the camera itself, leaving the least for post-production.
How long did it take you to create 38-39˚C? It took almost 2 years. Because I had to do almost everything by myself from pre-production to post-production. You can watch my making of the 38-39˚Chere which reveals more.
What is the character @1:38 in 38-39˚C made of? He is a cut-out puppet made of thick water color paper and he has very simple paper device in all of his joint so I can animate him very easily. You can see a similar puppet in the Thrash Lab identity.
Do you have any staple trademarks in all the animated pieces you make? I try to be awkward, strange, and atmospheric. And sets and environments are much more important then characters.
Who is a mentor to you?
- Stephen Chiodo. He was my teacher in CalArts. I learned every stop motion technique and animation from him. Stephen is the true master of stop-motion animation. And we made animation sequence and poster for Canon Imagin8ion project.
- Quay Brothers – watch this.
- Igor Kovalyov. Igor was also my teacher in CalArts. He was the first master who asked me to critic his film in a very small dark room. I learned what editing and timing from this animation.
- Yuri Norstein – see here.
If you were to take a road-trip cross country with any artist (dead or alive) who would you go with? Yung Chang is a Chinese Canadian film director. He made “Up the Yangtze” and “China Heaveyweight”. They are both great documentary films and I saw “China Heaveyweight” in Sundance Film Festival 2012. It was the one of the most powerful films. I always have been wanting to make a documentary film about people in National Parks and I would love to do the project with Yung Chang.
What are your go-to websites when you are on the internet for fun? National Film Board of Canada, Motionographer, Vimeo, Netflix, YouTube and I tried to find and visit many independent filmmaker’s webpages.
Where do you think digital media is going? Ah~ I can answer with many words, but the answer I like most is “I don’t know!”
With a CalArts thesis project as impressive as Kangmin’s a window of opportunity he doesn’t even realize he wants yet is certainly around the corner. We have our eye on him and we look forward to working with Kangmin further! Explore more of Kangmin Kim’s work on his website and watch the stop-motion video revealing the Thrash Lab identity he created – you will be impressed!