Animating Cycling

Combining my two favorite things

Cycling Reverie by Em Harrenstein from Forty Two on Vimeo.

I have a lot of wheels in my life. Six to be exact, and none of them are attached to a car.

I own three bikes. Well, four technically. I’m letting my coworker Nate borrow one.

I’m not a religious person, but riding my bike is a spiritual experience for me. It is thrilling that such an insignificant amount of metal can take me great distances with only a small amount of effort from my body. I feel as though I can escape from everything that weighs me down on a daily basis by freeing my mind and my soul, and allowing myself time to engage in deep thought. But more importantly, topping off a great bike ride often involves relaxing with a good beer to enjoy at my leisure.

“My other passion in life is how I make my living: bringing characters and objects to life, animation. I spend hours and hours working on very small parts of a larger character or movie, making it as lifelike as possible while adding my own style to it. I’ve received a total of two years of character animation training through the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts and

As a small project (and to impress my new coworkers), I combined my two favorite things into a short film I’m calling “Cycling Reverie.” In the film, a character I created blasts through the busy city streets on his bike and escapes to the quiet of the country.

I had to plan out what was going to happen in each shot before going into the drawing stage so that I could match up the perspectives. The character was intentionally left sketchy to allow a more ‘free’ feeling about him in contrast to the bold, crisp environment. One of the toughest animations to lockdown was of the character dismounting his bike and sitting down against the tree. For reference, I had to take a video of Nate getting off a bike and sitting against a wall.

I learned a whole lot about myself during this time. And even though sitting at a desk for hours rendering out animation is fun, I’m at my most peaceful whizzing by on two wheels and no engine.