Night Cab by Alix Bortoli is a lovely animation that speaks to nightlife, living in a city, and personal experiences through experimental ways of animation and sound. This animation automatically caught my eye because of the different techniques used. It starts out by giving us our urban setting made up of cardboard, cut out paper, and unique patterns that read as a skyline. The first chunk of animation takes place in the “night cab” which transports the viewer from place to place, like a real nightlife experience.
For the first scene, cut out photographs of people are used to create movement while sounds of the city overlap an upbeat soundtrack. The next technique used is embroidery, which pops out because of the contract of red thread on top of the black background. Figures warp and move to the music, dancing across the screen like performers in a show. I personally enjoy the small bits of threat that are hanging off of some of the imagery, revealing the materiality of the work.
Using a material like embroidery on a leather surface not only gives stunning images, but adds texture, making it more interesting. Following the dancing thread, a laser cut earring figure hangs from the ear of a still person. Animating through a laser cut earring is something that I’ve never seen before, and not only is this specific shot interesting because of this, but the lighting used is magnificent. Since there is a hard, single light shining on the animated jewelry, it casts a shadow onto the still person’s skin, consequently animating the earring and the shadow simultaneously. I find irony in the idea that the living human is still and unmoving while the earring is given life through animation, the opposite of what someone would expect.
The video goes on to show scenes of singers, late night hookups, and different people. Throughout the whole thing, the night cab takes the viewer to each of these places, sometimes revealing the moon and dark lighting that adds to the feeling of this night time experience. The music, by Arnaud Lin, fits perfectly with the mood of this piece, a relaxed, mysterious, but playful guitar moves us from scene to scene. Adding sound effects such as sirens or doors closing overtop of the soundtrack give this animation a lifelike feeling. The story ends when we are back in the cab, and the light is getting brighter, implicating that the night is ending and the day is just beginning. The ending ties back to the start by showing the paper cut skyline once again.
Overall, I think that this piece is stunning because of the materiality and handmadeness, the simple yet powerful story, and the perfect soundtrack that goes along with the whole thing.
Written by Sophia Muir