NEWS

The debt crisis isn’t getting animators down

Greece is a tanned girl in a bathing suit who likes to have fun. She eats ice cream and takes her small, carefree sheep, called Debt, for walks. So far, so good. The story continues with Debt getting bigger and bigger, until it turns into a scary, hungry beast that wants to devour little Greece. Who will come to her rescue? The fallen superhero, known as Europe? Or that strange mosquito known as IMF? Will Greece ever regain happiness? This last question is how one animated video trilogy, «The Greek Crisis Explained,» comes to an end. Users on Facebook (as well as friends who forward the video frantically) have probably watched the series created by Nomint, a digital animation company. Besides commercial projects, Nomint is behind a variety of videos developed for different purposes. In the case of «The Greek Crisis Explained» it was the release of local starlet Julia Alexandratou’s X-rated DVD in spring that inspired the team to attempt to explain what was going on in Greek society. As time went by, the spotlight moved from Julia to Greece’s debt crisis and its bailout by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. One thing led to another and the result is a series of episodes explaining the Greek crisis to an audience which ended up becoming much broader than was initially expected. While the history of the Greek crisis might be considered old news in Internet time, Nomint was recently awarded by the users of Vimeo.com and was also featured at the recent edition of Tedx Athens. «Right from the start we decided that this was a general interest story and not just about Greece because we are Greek. In fact, the little girl could have embodied somebody else,» Yiannis Constantinidis told Kathimerini. «There are possibly two groups of people who follow our work: The first category are people with an elevated artistic sensibility, whether they are pros or not. These are people that have an interest in visual culture on a global level. The local audience is no longer important. It’s a term which has been abolished on a cultural level as well, not just because of the Internet. There is very little you can say on the local level that does not concern someone living in Argentina, for instance. ‘Greek Crisis’ is a good example. A user recently asked if we were planning on making a similar video for the United States. This means that the subject concerns a lot of people.» The second category, explains Constandinidis, «is the kind of audience which is very well read and up-to-date.» These are the people who appreciated Nomint’s «Holy Chicken,» a video which recently won first prize by the Vimeo Internet community (comprising millions of users), in the experimental category. «Holy Chicken» is very different from the «Greek Crisis» series, says the artist. «It’s about a gigantic two-headed hen, a beautiful endangered species, an object of worship and exploitation, starring in a story of love and remorse, science, art, life and music.» The Net allows it all to happen At a recent Tedx Athens event, Yiannis Constantinidis talked about how the Internet has facilitated matters. What is the most valuable element the Internet has brought along? «It’s three things: the incentive, the tools and the sources. And, of course, the audience. You are addressing very directly and very quickly a lot of people. It’s a give-and-take process which leads you to improve things and this is fabulous,» noted Constantinidis. «We would not have been aware of this field had it not been for the Internet,» added Christos Lefakis. «In order to develop Nomint we compared ourselves to all that was out there in terms of how to set up the office, how to operate, the kind of standards we wanted for our production and our work.» Public participation is a key element in this case, given that the collective perception of things (which goes well beyond the local level) adds to a collective spirit which is undoubtedly higher than so-called common sense. «Television, for instance, is completely beyond common sense,» said Lefakis. «The audience goes from average to super-brain, to someone whose intense perception never misses a beat. As a result, this keeps you on your creative feet all the time. Naturally the idea of ‘dumbing things down,’ a notion which exists in the world of advertising, is no longer valid. In ‘Greek Crisis’ we added a small Argentinean flag inside the beast’s mouth. Someone actually saw it and commented on it without us having to enlarge the image.» In view of their upcoming independent video, which will come in the form of a short film, visit www.nomint.gr or vimeo.com and become a member of the collective spirit.   The group, in brief Established in 2007, Nomint was created by Yiannis Constantinidis and Christos Lefakis, two friends who studied together at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. Since its inception, the company has grown into a staff of nine and is behind a number of commercial ads for television, including a revamped Adam and Eve story created on behalf of an instant-coffee brand and an advertisement for a British TV channel. On display in the company’s reception area are Nomint’s awards: ADC Young Guns (a first for a Greek company), HAFF and European Design awards. Right below, a collection of design magazines are covered with Post-it notes, marking the pages mentioning Nomint’s activities. All around the company premises young people with a sense of humor and even greater imagination, seem completely absorbed in their work, surrounded by eccentric mementos which no doubt inspire them. Not to mention the «Greek Crisis» posters.