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Published July 04, 2010

You say it’s very hard to animate a sexy woman. Why? What techniques or programs did you use to make Mary Magdalene sexy?

Good old fashioned, classical, hand drawn animation like they invented 70 years ago that unfortunately went out of fashion. Today, everything goes into design instead of animation, because you can pitch a cool design easily to get money, rather than explain to insensitive businessmen about the soul of animation and content. Sexy is what feels sexy, not what just looks sexy. Like in real life. And feelings can only be achieved by real character animation. Today it’s like one guy is doing the keyframes and somebody who's much less paid is doing the inbetweens. This keeps the animation cheap and industrial, but less artistic. For typical female moves you have to set different keyframes at differnent parts of the body. For example: the hips have their extreme point at frame 12, but the shoulder at frame 16. That makes it female. Men dont walk like this. Everything would be on frame 12.

But maybe only women can act /animate like women. Furthermore, sexy animation has to move smoothly AND each single drawing has to have a sex appeal, so that each frame can stand on its own as a sexy graphic you could pin up on your wall.

And we use method acting (check it out if you don’t know about it) for all our animation, including the sexy scenes…

How did you create this series in terms of animation techniques? Take us through a step by step of how you made the characters come alive?

You have to flip the papers constantly and switch off your consciousness. Let the character take control. The character becomes so real that he leads the animator, not the other way around. Practically that means that you start very rough to manifest the soul of the characters' movement. Even in this early state of the animation process, every single paper/frame is already in use so you can flip and watch, instead of imagining it mathematically.

How long did it take you to make the entire movie?

Three years.

How long would you work on each section?

Book and design went really fast (4 months). For the storyboard we took more time to really work it out well. On our DVD we include, as one of the many extras, the versions of the storyboard, the layout film and the rough animation. You can see there that we stuck pretty much to it. I think we changed about ten frames in the timing when the film was completed. Nothing was animated we did not use.

The rough STB we both did together. Claudia as a former cameraman, did all of the extreme perspectives later and Olaf designed the sets in detail. Layout went rather fast. Volker Krafzel and Randi Pusch did the splendid colour paintings digitally. Animation took a while. Claudia animated 2 seconds each day & Olaf animated 4 seconds each day. Ulf Grenzer animated all the cute characters, such as the little school kids. About 10 more animators animated the sheep, Satan, the Romans, the cock, the three kings, Mary and Joseph etc...

Most of our fifteen cleaners were interns with no artistic education, just talent. We drilled each of them six months until they reached a professionel standard in clean up and they obtained a profound classical education in life drawing (plus a free breakfast each day.) I guess the deal paid off for everyone.

Compositing was in the hands of Markus Wende. As we asked for different outline colours, our interns had to jump in for colouring and the two of us for compositing.

Without our producers Käte and Ulrich Caspar from Distant Dreams, we could not have finished the film. They really kept problems from outside away from us. The worse the problem was, the less we had to do with it. We tried to keep the artistic and technical problems away from them.
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