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32. Dexterity

How we hold terror with kindness—so that we can get on with the work. Video walkthru today for members, an animated vignette for all.

There was a man 
Not wild not tame
Not small not tall
Grief in his head
Joy in his feet…
What are you 
What for
Out of which wish
and for what desire…

Unknown, from Interference Archive


I go through periods where I drag. I don’t want to do anything. I question everything. This is of course normal—we live in cycles and malaise is an inevitability. I guess we don’t like to talk about it because we resist adding to the darkness, we’re terrified of it, and because the low part of the cycle never seems to lessen in intensity. It returns as vividly and inky and clamoring the 100th time, as it seemed the first time. 

The provocative and shiny thing about this, though, is that there are moments where I shift my terror-, or torpor-, rooted position; turn the slightest bit sidewise, tilt the head minutely…and I can catch a glimmer. Not of anything new—just the same resolute familiar thing in its same resolute familiar place—but for a split second, the seeing is by a different and kinder me, however temporarily, scarcely, and briefly I am kind. 

In these unpredictable moments I snap to a benign perspective where I don’t take things so seriously. It’s a kind of clarity that I wish I could hold onto, and I thrive on the hunch that it’s like an underused muscle—a dexterity that can be attained.


News: Festivals, festivals

An overview of what I’ve been up to, via a 6.5 min video walkthrough for members

A peek at an animated vignette, for everyone

Provisions: Notable films, a letter, an article, and a podcast

NYC gem: Studio relief

Quick recap: I premiered an animated short this past May, after documenting its making in this newsletter for about a year. Now the process is starting all over again! You’re seeing my next film come to life; the topic I’m exploring is the Korean War and memory. This newsletter is above all about PROCESS; shining a light on the thankless period between the beginning and the end of making things. After following along behind the scenes, I hope you’ll be able to share a sense of accomplishment with me when the film is finished.

Festivals, festivals

My animated short Chamoe is screening right here in NYC on August 13th, as a part of Animation Block Party’s 2022 Summer Fest. Tickets available now. I can’t believe this is happening next weekend 🙀 We’ll be hanging at a local bar afterward; bring friends, say hi.

I was in North Korea with feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Nobel Peace Laureates Leymah Gbowee and Mairead Maguire, on a peace mission in 2015. The documentary is now screening at the Asian American International Film Festival (NYC) at 6pm August 4th (Forbes highlight); I’ll be doing a Q&A with other members of the cast afterward. Come and say hello!

A video walkthrough

For members: something new this week! I put together a 6.5 minute video of what I’ve been up to in the Studio:

A flip through the sketchbook 01:51

How I went from overwhelmed to organized 02:17

Running into a creative roadblock 04:06

Getting unstuck 04:55

Experimental vignette in Photoshop 05:30

I don’t know how often I’ll do this, but if the video with voice-over resonates with you, I’ll continue experimenting with the format. Lemme know what you think! Reply by email or comment on the post.

A peek at animating a vignette

For everyone: let’s zoom in on a specific thing I worked on. I’ve been exploring ideas for my next animated short through vignettes, and for my latest, I drew lines for four looping face animations. They’re about 5 seconds each, and at 24 frames a second, 2 frames per image, we get about 60 images per loop.

All the images in a loop display simultaneously—as a composite—when I first bring them into Photoshop:

I love composites—they seem to tell their own stories outside the constraints of time.

Here’s the face playing in a 5 second loop. The expression is reminiscent of the sleeping, or the resigned:

The faces don’t make much sense laid on top of each other as a still:

But with movement, a story begins to emerge. We get inklings; possibilities:

I added texture and color to each of the faces—I ended up using only three out of the four—and changed opacity and blend modes to allow them to show through each other. I imagine these figures “holding” something that has happened, something that they’ve shared:

A contrast to end on:

Stay tuned as this idea continues to develop…

I hope this issue felt lighter and tighter to everyone, while still provoking thought, emotion, and interest. I welcome feedback as always.

Until next time!

Looking for more?

Other issues you might find interesting from the archive:


Creating a “style primer

How I animated a bear

Fine art prints but make it practical

Members, read on for Provisions—what I’ve been taking in to refuel creatively and otherwise—plus a NYC gem. The full 6.5 min header video is also for you, hope you enjoy ❤️

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Coleen Baik