Motion Reel

Vitch

How do you tell the story of a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust by entertaining the Nazi’s?

  • Motion,
  • Visual Design,
  • Print

Client

Timeline

~6 months

The Challenge

Designing and animating a series of engaging scenes to display and emphasize documents, photographs, and articles crucial to the veracity of the feature-length documentary, Vitch.

It was important that each scene carried a consistent tone that was appropriate for the strong subject matter.

Additionally, I was tasked with designing a 56-page catalog of Eddie Vitch’s work for an exhibition put on by the filmmakers.

The film's opening sequence.

The Documentary

Background

Eddie Vitch was a caricaturist and mime artist from Poland. In the 1930s, his work took over the walls of the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood, the celebrity hangout of the era.

Vitch found himself in France performing his mime act when German forces invaded in 1940. The Nazi’s Propaganda Ministry recruited him and forced him to perform his act on stages throughout Germany.

His documents identified him as “Levkovitch,” an undeniably Jewish name. His survival is one of mystery and moral difficulty.

Process

The film was being edited, and at points re-written, as I was working on scenes, but the workflow remained the same throughout:

Sigal Bujman, the film's director, would outline a scene she wanted animated by giving me context for where in the movie's narrative the scene existed, and at what point in Vitch's life the scene was detailing. She and her team would pass on assets provided by Vitch's family, and off I went! The first task was the opening sequence, a brief set up of Vitch's life leading up to WWII. This helped define the visual tone for the following scenes in the film.

With each scene I started by designing style frames that I roughly animated to a scratch voice-over based on Sigal's script. As specific assets and the rough animations got approved I would finesse the artwork and the motion and eventually add post-effects to family all the scenes together.

An early version of the opening sequence can be seen here.

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A selection of spreads from the catalog.

The Catalog

As part of the documentary, the filmmakers put on an exhibit of Eddie Vitch's Brown Derby caricatures and asked that I make a publication to give context to his life story and to catalog the portaits on display.

The layouts of each page were inspired by Vitch's playful style, using parts of his paintings as surprise spot illustrations.