The Menagerie was created in Toulouse in 2000 by artists and technicians passionate about animated filmmaking, with the aim of making films and of sharing the techniques used to produce them with as many people as possible.
The Menagerie promotes artistic creation as a social connector, a nucleus for cultural exchange and educational support. Renowned for its expertise in traditional animation, the collective develops artistic projects that prioritize original and socially engaged practices.
The Menagerie is currently installed in l’Usine, a National Street Arts and Public Space Center, not far from Toulouse, in Tournefeuille. Its 150 square meters of space includes a studio and offices.
The Collective develops its projects in several fields:
HOST FOR PROFESSIONAL FILM TEAMS
The Menagerie, has a professional film studio used to shoot stop-motion films (Lettres de Femmes, Fire Waltz, and the animated series, Kiwi), rostrum camera animation (la théorie du chat), and traditional animation (Mars, XI. La Force, ZooZ)…
Production companies such as Xbo films, Double Mètre Animation, Les Films d’Ici, Pictor Média, and Le-Lokal, have entrusted the Menagerie with hosting their shootings.
The Menagerie is now recognized by the CNC (Centre national du cinéma) as a traditional animation « residential art center”. We are available for hosting and accompanying young artist-directors during the early development of their projects, at the critical transition from drawing to fabrication.
The Menagerie’s artists and technicians engage children, teens, and adults via workshops aimed at the discovery and creation of animated films: offering tools for artistic expression on a playful base and accessible to all. The Menagerie aspires to create collective spaces for creation and reflection, in hopes of provoking cultural awakening, critical analysis, and “working-together”, through image-based education.
These workshops can take one or five days.
The workshop always begins with an introduction to the history of animated filmmaking, investigating the eye/camera relationship, and retracing the different experiments which have given birth to animated filmmaking: Participants manipulate optical toys (thaumatrope, folioscope, praxinoscope) in order to better understand the breakdown of movement.
Extracts of films demonstrating different techniques are shown, allowing participants to discover the range of possibilities offered by animated filmmaking (traditional, claymation, pixilation, puppetry animation, object animation, etc.) From this overview we go on to explore a modern approach to traditional animation: a demonstration of light table animation allowing a look “behind the scenes”, the possible effects and tricks, the digital filming devices used (image-capturing software, webcam, rostrum camera)
If the workshop lasts only one day, the participants will just try their hands at animating on light tables (paper cut-outs, modeling clay, sand,objects…) but, if it is a five days workshop, after this introduction to the stop motion, the participants will make their own movie. They will write a script and create a storyboard on the chosen theme, create set elements, props, and characters (cut out paper, and/or drawing animations, pixilation…), shoot on light tables, and record the soundtrack with a “sound” instructor.
These films created by school groups are screened at the annual film screening organised by the Cinémathèque de Toulouse.
Since the Menagerie’s inception, more than a hundred films have been created by a wide range of audiences (from educational institutions, recreational facilities, cultural centers, and retirement homes, to prisons and rehabilitation centers, as well as in low-income neighborhoods and zones …).
The Menagerie offers introductory stop-motion workshops for social and cultural professionals, educators, and anyone looking to explore stop-motion techniques for personal, entertainment or educational reasons.
The Menagerie develops its own digital tools, notably Kool Capture: a free, downloadable, open-source software. This software is used during all our trainings and makes it possible to create a stop-motion movie with your computer and your webcam.
PERFORMANCES AND EXHIBITIONS
In the interest of reaching the widest possible audience, the Menagerie has developed a practice of shooting animated films in public spaces since its fondation. This has taken many forms:
- Le Schmurtz and Le Flipper, music videos shot participatively frame-by-frame
- La marche universelle, a film shot step by step with 12 people and 12 images per second
- Walk in progress, a multimedia installation, participative and context-based project concerning the body in motion
- Paréidolies, a visual exploration of the hidden shapes found on floors, walls, and cracks
- L’écran Magique, family-friendly show
- L’homme est un animal mobile, a graphic and cinematographic construction site, which was projected in the « IN » at the Aurillac International Street Theater Festival in 2015
The Menagerie also contributed to various performing arts companies’ projects (Le Bousrophédon, le PHUN, KompleXKapharnaüm, Cie La Machine…) providing their expertise in image animation.
The Menagerie has organized many exhibitions based on the graphic and plastic research done as part of the filmmaking process:
Toile de front, by Marc Ménager, which includes sculptures, paintings and set elements, allows a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the feature-length film, Fire Waltz, which takes place during the war of 1914-1918.