Meet Bristol based animation duo Hend and Lamiaa
Originally from Cairo, Hend Esmat and Lamiaa Diab (AKA Hend and Lamiaa) are crafting an animation style all of their own. We caught up with the now Bristol based duo to find out more about how they share their workload.
Hello! We are Hend and Lamiaa, freelance animators and illustrators. Originally from Egypt we are currently doing our MA at Bristol School of Animation. We studied media design in Cairo where we had the chance to collaborate on a variety of different projects. Quickly we discovered that we shared similar interests, in terms of style, design and approach. We started working together as a duo in 2012, and were extremely fortunate to both be awarded scholarships for our MA in Bristol. Now, together we’re excitedly paving our way into the industry.
Our first collaboration was part of our BA. We re-imagined the title sequence for “Edward Scissorhands” in homage to Saul Bass. How he brought life into movie titles, transforming them from plain text into a powerful short story through graphical elements, is amazing. We consider Saul Bass’ work as the initial spark that led our path into animation.
We manage to squeeze our essential toolkit (including laptop, wacom tablet, sketchbook and headphones) in our backpacks wherever we go. We work remotely by turning any place into our working space. At the moment we find it more convenient to have a studio “on the move”. Eventually we would of course like to have a fixed studio, so we can carry less on our backs! We usually use “Trello” to gather reference material, and software like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and TV Paint.
An idea can turn quickly into an interesting concept just by bouncing ideas back and forth. The fact that we are both drawn to similar styles makes the process much easier as we have a mutual understanding of what we want to choose.
A project starts by brainstorming together around a big table, grabbing sticky notes, pens, blank papers and any inspirational material we can find (analog or online); then we sketch out our initial ideas. Scribbles at this stage are usually very rough and quick, but as long as we both understand them we don’t worry too much about how they look.
We then lay out different options for framing, content and design followed by a filtering process made up of what we like best from possible ideas. Once we’ve settled on what we’re going to do, we divide the work equally, and if the production requires more manpower we start seeking out other people to join us.
We like to explore and keep our options open at the beginning of every project. We are drawn to a hybrid visual style mixing analog and digital techniques and prefer when visuals do not look fully computer generated. It’s also really nice to take a break from looking at screens and play around with different materials just like kids as part of our process. The most important thing is always trying to choose the technique that will best suit the idea.
Working together certainly makes the process more enjoyable and fun as we try to balance each other’s skills and learn from each other at the same time.
Recently, we have been trying to focus on creating minimal designs and using limited color palettes. For instance in the BBC listening project “Sea Life”, we ended up deleting more than adding, and the more we removed the better it became. But we also realised how simplicity is something very hard to achieve. The beauty of abstraction and leaving room for imagination is something we are trying to implement in the style of our current and upcoming projects.
We were lucky to be exposed to the international animation industry throughout our studies, making us aware of the gap in the market between Egypt and the rest of the world. We would love someday to help bridge this gap and create a platform where people can learn more about animation and encourage collaboration within the field. It could be an online platform, a series of workshops or an actual physical space. For instance, having something like Aardman’s exhibition space in “We the Curious” would be an amazing opportunity in our country, engaging both kids and adults with the animation process.
Our studies made us aware of the gap in the market between Egypt and the rest of the world. We would love someday to help bridge this gap; help people learn more about animation and encourage collaboration.
We are currently working on our short animation film called “Flipped” (View trailer) as part of our MA. The story portrays a day in a world where the roles of adults and children are switched. We are in the production phase, and should be finished soon! As opposed to working within a context of a client brief, we get to create our own rules and setup. It is exciting and challenging at the same time, finding a balance between working freely and establishing your own constraints. We’re really excited to share the film soon, and hopefully submit it to festivals as well.
A recent project that we really admire is the latest music video from OK Go. They synced a huge backdrop of printers to music. We just can imagine how much fun it would have been to come up with the idea; though probably a massive hassle to prepare. We’re simply fascinated by how they can realise ideas that seem so impossible to achieve. They’re always pushing new boundaries with every new music video. The Great British Bake Off trailer created by Parabella is also another great example. It’s just so beautifully crafted and animated, indulging the viewers in the baking process. Though we can imagine it would have been very hard to resist eating while filming!
We like to push ourselves, out of our comfort zone, make sure we get something new out of every project. We’re eager to continue exploring who we are as filmmakers, growing our portfolio with new projects; collaborating with other filmmakers and animators would be a perfect opportunity for us as a step forward.