Art, like all things, evolves. While it’s method of delivery may alter, the message is often a constant which addresses the human experience. Douglas Hofstadter’s celebrated book Godel, Escher, Bach an Eternal Golden Braid discusses the integration of art, math, and sound as a language in itself. This insightful concept was inspirational to animator/motion designer Ankita Panda in the creation of the film Play, Pause, Repeat. While this production can be labeled an animated film, it is much more than this. The true intent of Play, Pause, Repeat is to ask the viewer to consider the patterns we engage in throughout our existence and the emotions we cultivate. Play, Pause, Repeat is an Official Selection at such important events as The Brussels International Animation Festival, Animest International Animation Festival of Bucharest, and others in addition to being awarded Director’s Choice Selection at Supernova-Denver Digerati.
Admittedly, Ankita took an experimental approach in this film’s creation. She relates, “I used a hybrid 2D-3D animation technique. The uniqueness in the visual style lies in the blending of 3D procedural textures with traditional 2D animation techniques. My work has always explored hybrid/mixed media visual styles. I have never been able to choose one or the other. Hence I focus on combining organic aspects of multiple techniques to be able to create something visually unique and exciting.” While the lion’s share of Play, Pause, Repeat rested squarely on Ankita’s shoulders, she also collaborated with professionals like visual artist and filmmaker Mitchell McGlocklin of Forever (Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and others) and Grammy Award Winner Michael Patterson known for videos like A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.” In Play, Pause, Repeat, Ms. Panda has rebuked a linear story for a visual experience and very unexpected approach which beckons the viewer to consider their own lives and relationships.
Ankita Panda-Animator and Filmmaker
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s third law of Motion is taught in classrooms throughout the world but how many of us consider this idea in a micro and macro level as it applies to our own lives? Ankita Panda has. Play, Pause, Repeat suggests that we unconsciously repeat these cycles. This philosophical concept owes a great deal to mathematics and also necessitated a specific approach in Ankita’s creation of this film with depicting said patterns. Because she wanted all of the images to be related in their progression, Ankita created fifteen loops designed with a definite rise and fall action such that all the motion arcs seamlessly looped amongst themselves. A node based system was then created to attempt various combinations of these loops, resulting in various three-dimensional patterns which loop endlessly and harmoniously, coexisting in interconnectedness.
The imagery of Play, Pause, Repeat possess a dreamlike quality but the subtext here is a relation of the struggles and human thought processes we all experience. Ms. Panda categorizes these as “six concepts of systems thinking.” The filmmaker lists these as: Disconnection – Inter-connectedness, Linearity - Loops, Reluctance - Emergence, Parts – Whole,
Analysis – Synthesis, and Isolation – Relationships. The film is a journey which begins with individual components and then begins to reveal their connection as a part of a large design system. While Play, Pause, Repeat must be viewed to truly comprehend this and feel its gravitas, there is an enlightenment it delivers as it helps us understand our relationship with all things.
To achieve the visual language of the film, Ankita used a combination of 3D software, hand animated frame by frame 2D traditional effects, and motion capture of live dancers. The original aesthetic of Play, Pause, Repeat is suitably paired with the ideas it communicates, a combination that loudly proclaims a signature style for Ankita Panda as a filmmaker and animator. Insight into just how differently she approaches her concept of applying both her skill and vision can be found in Ms. Panda’s statement, “I am fascinated by the sustained exploration and innovation in design that can be achieved by combining animation with mathematical progressions and sound. Experimenting with common elements across these fields such as geometry, symmetry, repeating patterns, and looping cycles has become an integral part of my work. I intended to develop integrated system designs that can be reused, scaled and repeated in different contexts, thus contributing to the development of novel and interesting ways of communication.”
Published by Pooja Agarwal