Caroline Leaf

Final Project: Sand Animation from Kara Johnson on Vimeo.

Survey of Animation, Final Project, Vimeo Movie, 33 Seconds

Caroline Leaf was born in Washington on August 12, 1946 and grew up to become an independent Canadian-American filmmaker and animator. To make her films she used alternative methods because she believes using cel technology like most other people lacks emotion and is redundant. She enjoyed using free-flowing techniques such as sand on a light box, paint on glass, and scratching directly on film.

She joined the National Film Board of Canada’s English Animation Studio and produced short films for them. In 1968 she produced her first film, Peter and the Wolf  when she was studying at Harvard University. This short was made with sand on a light box and manipulated the textures in every frame. Her next film, Orfeo, was made in 1872 by painting directly on glass. The Street is a film from 1976 and is from a short story by Mordechai Richler and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short film and is known as the second best animated film ever. Her 1990 film, Two Sisters, won the award for best short film at Annecy International Animated Film Festival. After 1991 she left animation to work on documentaries and helped make a documentary about the Underground Railroad. She currently lives in London is a tutor at the National Film and Television School while putting on workshops for people to learn her techniques.

Caroline Leaf is important to the animation world because she used different techniques to create her stories and the thought behind her stories. Her new use of techniques opened ip the animation world to new ideas. Stories such was Two Sisters and The Street showed people about family life and their real life problems which before had not been addressed in short films. Caroline Leaf is a true inspiration not only to me, but to other animators as well. Her animations have been in multiple different festivals and shows to inspire more people to use new techniques. In 1974, Sesame Street used sand animation in their show as inspired by Caroline Leaf’s animations. Although painting on glass techniques have been used prior to Caroline Leaf, she brought that technique to life in the United States influencing people and even television channels to use the painting on glass technique.

For my animation based on the works by Caroline Leaf is sand animation. My animation is like Caroline Leafs because it used the same material the same way, on a light box, but I made it my own by not telling a story. Caroline Leaf’s work tells a story and instead I had my animation be more of random events.

I did not choose sand art as my animation technique, it choose me. I picked Caroline Leaf not knowing much about her and did not change my mind because of the animation techniques she used. In my animation, short sequences worked well because of the lack of information needed in viewing them. But the difficulty of using sand as an animation technique was unexpected, so using a multitude of different objects helped shape and detail my objects. I had strayed away from my storyboard after playing with the sand because the sand was difficult to make things different sizes or move multiple times. For this animation, I could have improved on the actual pictures taken because my images have different light sources and different size images.

“Caroline Leaf: Work Biography.” Caroline Leaf. N.p.. Web. 12 Dec 2013. <

“Caroline Leaf.” Animation World Network, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2013. <>.

“Caroline Leaf: Biography.” Fandago. N.p.. Web. 12 Dec 2013. <>.

“Caroline Leaf.” Focus on Animation. National Film Board of Canada, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2013. <>.

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