(Note: Dark Day is a series of six micro-shorts that add up to about five minutes, total. Watch them all here to get the full experience.)

One of the biggest advantages of animation over live-action filmmaking is the control it provides. The most obvious examples of that tend to be in the actual drawing and design—you can create any setting you want, control the colour palette, make the lighting defy conventional physics for the sake of a shot, and have any kind of creature you can think of move however you want.

But in film theory, cinema’s defining characteristic isn’t any of those things. It isn’t what happens within the shots, but between them—the edit. And while plenty of animators get creative with their compositions, only a handful have extended that creativity to their transitions. And even then, few do it better than Jonathan Djob Nkondo.

In films like Dark Day and The Last Exhibition, Nkondo doesn’t cut between shots, he tumbles between them. Each shot is a rotated view of a previous one. Considering how short the films are and how quickly the transitions come, it’s a risky move to trust your audience to orient themselves to each new angle. But it works perfectly for Nkondo’s style, and for Dark Day in particular. The film is already a sort of paranoid nightmare. The transitions work to keep you off balance; you’re just as confused as the unnamed protagonist.

It also helps that Nkondo seems hugely influenced by the ligne claire style that has defined Belgian and French comics since the days of TinTin (Nkondo is a born-and-raised Parisian, so that would make sense). With most of his backgrounds defined by three simple lines and contrasting colours, there isn’t so much as an extra pen stroke to get in the way of your interpretation. In an interview with Motionographer, he’s said that the style is partly a product of laziness, which makes a sort of sense—fewer lines means less work in animation. But it also means more careful and deliberate composition, since you can’t hide behind excessive details.

Maybe it’s just a happy coincidence that his “lazy” drawing works so well with his preference for quick cuts and shifting perspectives, although that sounds like excessive modesty to me. Either way, it has led to a style that’s instantly recognizable and endlessly watchable, so maybe a little laziness isn’t that bad a thing.



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