They are elite sushi athletes and they are going to compete at the hurdles – jumping over the soya sauce and chinese chopsticks. The stadium is sold out waiting for the starter pistol sound. Who will bet the new champion? The stop-motion film is inspired by the popular „running sushi“ restaurants where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt.
Jan Petrak: Gatlin / Kiryu (voice)
Kitty „The Night Crawler“: the cat
Idea & screenplay: Stepan Etrych
Produced by: Stepan Etrych & Katka Etrychova
Cinematography: Stepan Etrych & Jan Petrak
Animated, edited and sound mixed by: Stepan Etrych
Lighting: Stepan Etrych & Jan Petrak
Audience sushi maker: Katka Etrychova
Music & sfx: Audioblocks.com, Audiojungle.com
Aspect ratio: 1,78:1
Camera: Canon 600D
Lenses: Tamron 17-50/f2.8, Canon 75-300/f4-5.6 III
* Novella Showcase / Jackson, USA
* FotoFilm Tijuana / Tijuana, Mexico
* Lanett City Film Festival / Lanett, USA
* ANNY: Animation Nights / New York, USA
* Palm Springs International Animation Festival / Palm Springs, USA
* KLIK Amsterdam Animation Festival / Amsterdam, Netherlands
* Food & Farm Film Festival / San Francisco, USA
* Celtic Animation Film Competition / Liverpool, UK
* Food Film Festival / Praha, Czech Republic
* Hsin-Yi Children’s Animation Awards / Taipei, Taiwan
* Anchorage International Film Festival / Anchorage, USA
* Festival Cerna vez / Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
* Cinema Open / Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
From a restaurant to a screen
At the beginning of this story, there was a dinner in a sushi restaurant one of those 2014 Autumn days. Watching the rotating conveyor belt called „running sushi“ we realized this was a perfect idea for an animated short film. The name of „running sushi“ simply calls for making a movie with sushi really running, like athletes on the Olympics. „Anyway I thought someone had already made this. Because the name of „running“ sushi is temptative for this idea,“ director Stepan Etrych says.
But when googling it, we didn’t find any animated film like this. That make us happy, of course, so the preproduction could start. We knew from the beginning it would be the running race of some sushi pieces – now we had to develop the whole story. We wanted a track with hurdles where accidents would happen and only one of the athletes would finish the run. And the winner would be eaten at the very end. „In the early version of the script it was a human, but later we changed to a cat,“ Stepan explains.
Then, the technical preparation took place. We built the 170 cm long track from wooden boards bought in a hobby market, painted all the components and built-in the hurdles – soya sauce bowls and chopsticks. Also the idea of the crowd at the stands came when building the track. We liked that beucase it would add more dynamics to the race, but it made the project more difficult – we wanted the sushi-audience would move.
The „casting“ of the athletes took place in severel Prague sushi restaurants. „We saw them many and at the end we desiced for the one that made most beautiful sushi. That will also last,“ Stepan explains. Concerning the shape and physical quality we bought 8 pieces of each athlete the evening before the shooting took place. „Katka made all the audience-sushi, almost 150 pieces,“ the director Stepan Etrych says.
He shared the director’s chair with Jan Petrak for this animated short, and both also were the cinematographers. The shooting took one whole day, November 4, 2014. The film was made by stop-motion animation. „That means we had to move every piece of sushi a bit, then take a photo and repeat all the proces,“ Jan explains. The photos came alive later when animated in a computer.
We took more than 1000 of photos that Thursday and it was a real hard day’s night. We had to darken the room to have a constant light and we lit the track with two lights that warmed the whole room very soon. It drained the rice of sushi after some dozens of minutes, so each piece of athlete had to be replaced after finishing the sequence – let’s say from hurdle to a hurdle. „And the heat mixed with the drying sushi smell made the room some old fishing cabin. It was really disgusting when you left the room for a moment and then came back,“ Stepan laughs.
Almost done: the cat eating the winner take took place at the very end. The problem was our cats weren’t interested in sushi at all. So we placed a piece of cheese on the track instead of sushi. And it worked after some takes.
Then we cleaned the room, and computer took the main role: the basic animation took one moth of work. But because of the Bubbles Don’t Lie preproduction, the finishing of the Running Sushi was later postponed.
The break took more than 2 years. We decided to finish the whole thing in the spring of 2017: we tuned up the animation, mixed the sound including our own voice overs for the athletes.
The final result has 79 second, it is our shortest short movie. We hope you’ll like it.
The beginning of eluding of the track. The cat sitting on it is that one that appears at the end of the movie.
„Casting“ in one of sushi restaurants in Prague.
The track is half done.