Animator and illustrator Yi Luo, aka Yinfinity, has recently released her short film One Pair Coat. The film is an exploration of the relationship between Jolanda and Hendrik, but the twist is that Hendrik is actually Jolanda’s favourite coat. Due the sweetness of Luo’s characters, the viewer accepts this concept immediately and we follow the pair as they go to a party.
Taking three months to create, Luo says the idea came to her almost fully formed so she spent a week and a half figuring out the designs of the two main characters. “Then there was another one and a half weeks for a very rough animatic, and after that I just animated and animated,” explains Luo. “It took me three extra weeks at the end for the sound design, because I was crafting sound for the first time, so that included the time needed to learn the basics and software.” To help it all come together, Luo’s friend and artist marx created the soundtrack for the animation, while Michael Bohnenstingl helped with the sound mixing.
Rather than following a specific style or aesthetic, Luo let herself be guided by her instincts and the result is simple line-drawn characters set against backdrops that shift in colour depending on the mood of the scene. The animator enjoys telling stories with humour “flavoured with some melancholy”, and though One Pair Coat is about a person and their coat, it’s similar to previous projects in that it dials into Luo’s personal experiences.
“For example, my first film Night Spinning was inspired by my early one-sided love which drove me crazy, and One Pair Coat was inspired by my thoughts and experiences of an ideal relationship,” she says. “I’ve realised writing stories is my way to understand my past emotions and archive special memories. It’s also a way to think about the world and life. Through it I know who I am better and why I’m like this.”
Luo is currently a student at Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg (FABW) in Ludwigsburg, Germany, and so far she’s enjoying the discussions she has with both her peers and tutors. “There’s a lot of freedom and all kinds of support so that I feel free to experiment with things, while also being protected,” she says. For Luo, that’s the true value of studying animation formally. “You also have the great opportunity to use very good (and expensive) software and equipment, which you might not be able to buy yourself,” she adds.
Throughout the project, Luo felt a lot of pressure from her self-imposed deadlines. “I started working on this film because Michael (who mixed the sound) and I wanted to challenge ourselves by making a quick film within three weeks before we worked on our graduation films, which take longer,” explains Luo. “I only had a very rough animatic after three weeks, so in the months after that three-week deadline, I felt frustrated with myself and built up the pressure.”
On reflection though, she feels the time and effort she did spend on One Pair Coat was worth it, and the short also demonstrates her progression as a filmmaker.
“Through this challenge we also officially initiated a new format of project at the Animationsinsitut called Torpedo, where students can choose to make a film in a short time – from three weeks to three months,” she says.
Right now, Luo is working on her graduation film at FABW, which is a 2D animation titled Dodo’s Papa is an Engineer. It looks set to be another intriguing tale, with 10-year-old Dodo wondering where her father, a big blue bird, has flown off to.
Ultimately, what keeps Luo making animations is purely the joy she gets in bringing things to life. “I’m very fascinated at the moment when the characters feel alive,” she says. “I know they are just dots and lines, but if I draw them in a certain way and put them on a timeline, I can see the soul in them. It’s like magic!”