Interview with the designers of the HIKERS TALE pattern, PIROS Animation
Meet the team behind PIROS Animation, the designers of our HIKERS TALE Collection. The members of the Hungarian animation studio, Bálint, Bence, Domonkos and Vivi tell us about themselves, their way of working and how the HIKERS TALE pattern and animation video were born.
YKRA: Tell us a bit about yourself, about PIROS Animation studio and the whole team!
Bence: We founded PIROS with Domonkos Erhardt in 2018 while both of us were studying at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest (MOME). We believed that we would have better chances to start our professional journey together than on our own. For the very same reason, it was Vivien Hárshegyi who first joined us, and Bálint Halasi was the latest addition to the team.
Vivi: As for our work method, we don’t have any permanent roles set in stone, so no one is the director or the production designer. We all have very strong opinions about what we want to do and how we want to do it, and from project to project, we try to find the best way of how we can contribute to its success. We have to assess whose style or directing method would be the closest to what the client has in mind and execute the design process in a way that everyone can be happy with the result.
YKRA: How do you start working on an animation?
Domonkos: The animation starts with an idea, based on which we can start drawing. Then we organize these drawings into a so-called storyboard which is basically an illustrated script. In the next stage, we create simplified mock-ups, the animatics, that can give an idea of how a scene would look and feel with motion, sound and timing. These are very important preparations that also provide an opportunity for both the client and our team to modify, or even cut out some storyboard elements – and as these are just mockups, it doesn’t hurt to let some parts go, as it would at a later part of the animation process.
After this phase, serious work begins, such as animating and colouring of the characters. This is when compositing takes place: the coloured characters are imported into a software where they can be further refined.
YKRA: How did it work that five of you worked on the project that eventually became one?
Domonkos: What was good about this project is that it started with the designing of the pattern, so it gave us a really good basis. We had the characters and the background elements, so our goal was to make them come alive in the animation. In this respect, we had a hard time putting our mind to designing a pattern, because we have never done anything like this before, and it made this project very exciting for us because we could try something we didn’t have any experience with. It looks easy to draw a looping pattern but in reality, it is much more complex than just sitting down and doodling. I drew the pattern based on some common brainstorming sessions that also built on Vivi’s ideas, for example, the little kid who is staring at a bird with binoculars comes from her design.
Bálint: In the HIKERS TALE project, I was responsible for compositing. My work can be imagined as doing a puzzle. When all parts of the film (characters, background and tiny elements) were animated, it is my job to assemble them into the final video. As this is the first occasion we see all visual elements and motion next to each other, this phase uncovers that some ideas we had beforehand just don’t work the way we imagined. So we have to come up with a lot of new solutions.
Domonkos: In this project, we had a freelance animator helping us, Katalin Sárdi. It is a very interesting task, as the animator has to use a style different from their own and animate characters designed by someone else, but Katalin did a great job.
YKRA: What was the inspiration behind the Hikers Tale?
Domonkos: As the pattern determined the style of the animation, we did our research on what inspires YKRA. As we didn’t live in the ‘80s, it was interesting to look up what was the trend in hiking back then. We also wanted to make sure that our animation is timeless, so anyone could identify with it, even if they didn’t live in that era. Our main inspiration was the logo, the mountain: we wanted to introduce a micro-community and the activities they engage in around the mountain, starting from tenting through skiing to parachuting.
YKRA: How would you describe your style of the animation?
Domonkos: There are some classical animated movies that inspired us, for example, János Vitéz (Johnny Corncob) by Marcell Jankovics or the Yellow Submarine, both of them were created in a similar period and style. We wanted to use some of their stylistic elements, eg. the wide trousers, huge hands and legs, but we wanted the style of the animation itself to be different.
Bence: Domi’s idea was to work with anatomically more correct characters.
Domonkos: Yes, and also, the idea was to have some sensory changes of space in a flat environment, so the viewers wouldn’t know where they are, how big the forest or the mountain is. But we wanted to keep the fore-, middle- and background to create an effect as if we would glimpse through the backpack or we would thumb through a children’s book.
YKRA: What’s your favourite part of the pattern or the animation, and why?
Bence.: Mine is the forester's house and the tower.
Domonkos: I like that moment when the camera stops for a second and it looks like a postcard. I also have a secret reference: when a girl gets her bag from the tent, that’s my sister!
Vivi: Mine is the skiing part and how it splashes snow in the camera. And the deer, of course.
Bálint: I love the transitions between the scenes. The small details here make the whole forest scenery come alive. It is also good to see how we managed to create a very original visual system where all elements harmonize with each other, and it remains organic in spite of its diversity.
YKRA: What are you up to these days? What are your plans with PIROS?
Domonkos: We founded the studio a year ago with no previous experience, so we learnt a lot in this past year – some things the easy, and others the hard way. A lot of good things happened to us, and we finally have a website and active social channels, so we’re working hard on promoting PIROS.
Vivi: We would like to have a small studio space where we could work, where everyone could have a mug with their names. We would like to be part of exciting projects, and it would be great if clients came directly to us because they like our style and way of working. We would be very happy if orders would come non-stop because clients believe we can realize their ideas.
photo: Milán Rácmolnár