20/07/22 • News & Happenings

The Lightbulb Moment

Featuring Martin Quaden!

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Martin Quaden, Producer

In our Lightbulb Moment series, we take a deep dive into the creative minds of our crew members to discover what it was that first sparked their interest in animation. Since the series launched last year, we’ve been lapping up all the recommended viewing and reading!  

Today’s Lightbulb Moment contribution comes from Martin Quaden, producer, who joined Lighthouse back in 2020 as line producer on El Deafo, bringing with him wide and varied experience spanning several continents and content forms. Born and raised in Germany, he spent some time in school in Turkey before studying film and photography in the United States. After graduating from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, Martin spent two years working in the live content hub of Los Angeles, before moving back to Europe and into the animation sector.  

So, what exactly was it that set him on the eventual pathway to our studio? Over to you, Martin! 

As a kid, comic books got me going. Before I could even read, I would spend long afternoons just looking at comics, and I had crates filled with all the Asterix comics, all the Lucky Lukes and all the thick Walt Disney “funny paperbacks” – or Lustige Taschenbücher to us Germans. I was blown away when I found out that Rene Goscinny wrote not only both Asterix and Lucky Luke, but also Le Petit Nicolas. What a guy! And I still think the story of Krazy Kat, Ignatz and Officer Pupp, by American cartoonist George Herriman, is the greatest love story ever imagined.  

Ah… comics. 

Yet if I was asked to pinpoint one lightbulb moment specifically, it would have to be from 1998 when, in college, I discovered The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993, directed by Dave Borthwick), and caught the stop-motion bug in general – and the pixilation bug in particular. Which is an incredibly simple technique: pixilation is human actors being “animated” frame by frame, or rather acting while being filmed frame by frame. It’s an insane process, totally uneconomical, and it’s not done very often, because, well, mainly, it’s an insane process – even when compared to the already laborious production of stop-motion.  To my knowledge, there are but a few examples of pixelation: Norman McLaren did Neighbours (1952), Peter Gabriel’s music video for Sledgehammer (1986) is super neat, Jan Kounen did Gisele Kerosene (1989) before he made features, but I can’t think of much more.  I hope I’m wrong. Let me know!

What I love the most about stop motion is that you can animate anything. You can animate people, you can animate lint and you could animate the disappearance of the Cliffs of Moher due to erosion – all you need for that is time-lapse photography and a few thousand years of patience.  

I think animation covers one extreme of the spectrum (total artifice regarding production), while documentaries cover the other extreme (zero artifice – and that point is debatable). Traditional live action is sort of the boring middle-ground (artifice selling reality). Animation and, to me, stop-motion, can be the most joyous and wondrous thing there is. You should treat yourself today to Jiri Trnka (the man animated real insects!), Jan Svankmajer, George Pal, the Brothers Quay, everything Adam Elliot has done, everything Henry Selick has done and Slow Bob in particular, Marquis (1989, which features the stop-motion animated penis of the Marquis de Sade), Wallace and Gromit, obviously, but also the Aardman short Ident (1989). 

Of course, even better than watching animation is making it. Which, thankfully, I have the pleasure to be involved in.  


And WB’s Looney Tunes. Credit where credit is due. I went on vacation to Pismo Beach once simply because, you know, Bugs. True story. Nice beach. Good clam chowder.  – Thank you, Bugs! 

And thank you, Martin!  

Like this article? Then stay ‘tooned’ for some more updates from Team Lighthouse! 

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