Valerie Pirson


There’s no stopping the tidal wave of digital animation coming at us on the web, in the cinemas, and on tv. But there’s also a counter movement (if you can call it that) of animators who use old school animation techniques, like stop-motion. Stop motion animation is the “slow food” of animation. It’s hands-on, physical and magical. But also a lot of hard work and very time consuming.

One of the rising stars of the new generation of stop motion animation directors is Valerie Pirson, born in 1981. She was “discovered” by Michel Gondry – one of the innovators of the visual language of music videos of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Gondry is probably most famous for his highly imaginative promos for Björk, in which he often combined live action and stop motion animation. When Gondry saw Valerie’s graduation animation film Pistache, he liked it so much, he asked her to work on the The Science of Sleep – his second feature. The film is laden with original animation sequences that are a joy to watch. Valerie created the animations for “Stephane TV”, the imaginary TV show of the protagonist. “Michel Gondry gave me carte blanche. He just outlined the story,” notes Valerie, who was still in school, about to complete her degree course in Visual and Graphic Arts at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, Ensad, when she embarked on Gondry’s project.

Sounds like a best-case scenario for any young animator. Gondry also introduced Valerie to Partizan, the French agency that produces music videos and commercials.

We spent a day with Valerie in Paris and filmed her at her studio, where she gave us a peek at the animation process. And we followed her to a meeting with clients at the Partizan headquarters.

Watch ‘Pistache’ on YouTube

Pretty Cool Crew: Commissioning Editor for SubmarineChannel/Sound: Geert van de Wetering, Director/Interview/Editing: Ben De Loenen, Camera: Paul de Heer.

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