Pandiculation, by definition, is the act of stretching oneself, which is often accompanied by yawning. It typically happens when we wake up, but it can also be a symptom of office life, especially during very long work meetings, virtual or otherwise. The phenomenon is explored perfectly and hilariously by recent graduates Jakob Eiring and Konrad Hjemli with their animation of the same name.
“Pandiculation is about the inner battle of suppressing your natural needs to avoid slight embarrassment or to appear professional,” Hjmeli says of their film. “The idea was directly inspired by Jakob’s super intense yawn and stretch one morning in our apartment.”
The pair were a week or so into thinking of ideas for their final project and Eiring’s stretch fest had them hooked. “We shared a look and we both knew that there was something here. We kept trying to write more ideas, but to be honest, we were almost set on this one instantly.”
Hjemli and Eiring studied animation at Volda University College in Norway and they were roommates from their first year. “We first started talking about working together about half a year before starting our bachelor project. I was on an exchange in Cardiff, while Jakob was working from home due to illness within the family,” explains Hjemli. “The exchange kinda sucked, and I found it very hard to work on a big project on my own, so I asked Jakob about collaborating to avoid the same stressful situation the next year. Collaborating was definitely a very good idea. Since we know each other quite well, communication was very good, and we had a lot of fun with it.”
With a shared love of working in 2D, the animators quickly worked out who would take on what role and it allowed them to create a dynamic creative process with Hjemli more technically equipped and Eiring having a knack for storytelling. “We were honest about our weaknesses and strengths early on and defined our roles,” says Hjemli.
For Pandiculation, Eiring took on the character designs and developed the narrative, while Hjemli spent more time on the background design, sound design, compositing and other technical problem solving. “We spent quite a lot of time on the animatic, mostly skipping the manuscript and storyboard phases,” says the animator. “The film heavily relies on camera angles and timing, we’re both very visual storytellers, so just putting all the ideas down directly in animatic form was the most effective way for us to work. It still took a long time to fine-tune. After locking down the animatic, we just started to animate all the shots in a planned schedule, and that was about it.”
The style was kept minimal and monochrome to make it easier for the duo to finish in time, but they still ran into some problems during production. “Finding the correct sequence of events to happen in the story was a struggle for a long time,” reflects Hjemli. “Also finding the right voice actor for the main character, Jan, and having a good soundtrack to animate to in general. We were kind of late on recording and finalising the audio, especially for the two other characters who talk a lot. But it all worked out in the end.”
Pandiculation captures the monotony of office life, and is a well-paced, well-observed depiction of a universal happening. It’s this relatability that makes it so amusing and all the more satisfying when the protagonist finally gives in.