Raw Animation: Becky & Joe Climb to “Tallest Heights”

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When animation duo Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling met, Pelling was studying to become a digital animator and Sloan a fine artist.

The two connected over a love of experimentation in the animation medium and started to create works as a team. After gaining acclaim for their playful films, the two became known as one entity: Becky & Joe. Their combined skills make for an incredible team of exceptional discipline, but both say their best work has been born out of a simple and timeless idea: fun.

“Aesthetically, it’s telling stories. We’re keen to do more storytelling by using more techniques that we’re building up.” – Joe Pelling

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Sloan and Pelling’s idea of fun might be rather unconventional; even other artists would call their creative process labor-intensive. When the Lincoln Motor Company asked Becky & Joe to create a film for their “Hello, Again” project in which filmmakers reimagine the familiar into something completely new, they wanted to explore the earlier techniques of raw animation using artistic manipulation on rolls of film. They began to scratch, etch, and stroke paint onto a pea-sized piece of acetate. They stitched the pieces together and projected them onto a wall, watching the work come to life. The process was tedious, but Sloan and Pelling persisted, miraculously able to envision the final product together as they squinted at the frames.

“The idea was taking inspiration from the past, but putting it into a new arena and new direction. It wasn’t just about taking inspiration from the past and mimicking it. That’s what interested us,” says Pelling.

Sloan and Pelling were taken aback by the beauty of the experimental footage put together on the tiny film frames, and were determined to show that these non-digital techniques could be as breathtaking on a digital platform and relevant when joined with modern music. Check out their Behind the Scenes footage here:

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“We have an admiration for the traditional techniques and more raw filmmaking. Not that we’re against digital work or anything like that, but we’re trying to find a way to merge the two and capture the best bits of stuff that’s more handmade,” says Pelling. “That’s what’s evolved over our period of  work together. We’ve got more of a clear idea of what we do and why we do it.”

Their final film, “Tallest Heights,” consists of 7,000 frames stitched together perfectly in time with music. “We had to keep reworking things and keep pushing things into a new direction,” says Pelling. “We didn’t want it to feel like we were repeating something.”

Becky & Joe are one of four filmmakers selected to interpret the theme of “Hello, Again.” Their works will be rolling out on our Vimeo channel this month.


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