Computer Animation/Film/VFX

Auszeichnung - Award of Distinction


Pascal Floerks (DE)


Bär [Bear] is a film about my grandfather. It’s a film about his personality, about his past as a WW2 soldier and it’s about me, his grandchild, and the way I saw him. I always found it fascinating that he would never talk about the war. Though everyone in the family knew about his past, no one knew any details. But it was always with him. Most that I know is part of the story of Bär.

My motivation to make this film was that I felt very sad about the fact that I would never be able to ask him those questions, to never solve the mysteries around him and not just around him, but all the witnesses of the war area that we keep losing until there’s no one left to ask. Therefore I wanted to make a film about all the grandfathers and their mysteries of the past.

So to tell the story about my grandfather but leave it open for own personal projections I chose to picture him as a bear. I chose to not make a full animation film about it, first because of time restrictions, but later I realized that those photos would be all I needed to tell the story, and also picture the fact that everything is in the past. So the minimalistic approach also helped me to sell the story, which was really good as I was also involved in other projects at that time, being more in a technical role.

I was helping myself with family photos at hand, going through the big library with the help of my grandmother. All color photos (except a few at the end of the film) are actual family photos. I had to go and shoot some of the photos for the last part of the story myself. The war photos were gathered from a German photo library. Luckily that library was available online, so I could find the photos I needed quite fast.

Then I replaced my grandfather or a soldier on the photo with a CG bear. One of the most common questions is: Why a bear? For me that was very clear from the beginning. I found bears to be very pretty animals, cute, huggable, very well established in our society thinking of Teddy Bears. At the same time a bear is a very dangerous predator. So the bear was perfect for what I wanted to tell.

From the technical side, I started creating a ZBrush model of a bear, made a riggable, retopologized version of it, created a basic rig in Maya so I could pose him for the different photos. Fur was a good adventure as I had never done a fur project before. I tried different solutions but ended up using yeti fur for Maya, which was a great choice. After lots of grooming and combing and texturing and shading, matching the lights of the photos, I rendered the bear in Arnold for Maya. This gave great quality in a short amount of rendering time. Final compositing was done in Nuke and sometimes Photoshop.

The final step was to put all the photos on film slides, project it onto a nice canvas and film the slide show. Though I tried going all digital for this, I found that going the analog way gave a much more satisfying result. All filming had to go through one last step of editing. Combined with the sounds and music of Christian Heck, the film finally came together.


Pascal Floerks

Pascal Floerks (DE), born 1982 in Worms, discovered his passion for animation early on, making his first films as a child. After successful completion of a media management degree at the Business and Information Technology School Iserlohn, he wanted to explore the creative side of media production and so decided to continue his education at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. He gained plentiful experience as a character TD on numerous student projects and also professionally at Blue Sky Studios in the US. Back home in Germany, he has contributed to a multitude of projects for studios such as Polynoid, Woodblock and Studio Soi, most recently as lead character TD on the Oscar-nominated film Room on the Broom. In March 2014, Pascal concluded his studies at the Filmakademie with the completion of his film Bär.

Director: Pascal Floerks (DE)
Producer: Julia Smola (DE)
Music/Sound: Christian Heck (DE)
Script Translation: David Mass (US)