Shelter is a short film animated and produced by A-1 Pictures. It was written by up-and-coming electronic musician, Porter Robinson. The short film took about two years to complete. There’s a lot I could talk about to explain why I love Shelter so much, so for the sake of organization, I’ll divide this post into three main sub sections:
The world created by our protagonist, Rin, and by extension, the animation team, is absolutely gorgeous. The ever changing landscape never fails to impress from snowy terrains to grassy fields; it brings so much life and color to the otherwise lonely setting. Even little details like the way Rin’s hair flows in the wind or the steam that rises out of a bath or how gosh darned comfy Rin’s bed looks; are a sight to behold. It’s those little details that add more depth to Rin’s everyday life. Speaking of little details, the way that Rin’s expressions are animated are absolutely spot on. When she grins, her happiness can be felt by the audience, when she tilts her head in confusion, the audience can’t help but wonder what she’s pondering on, and most of all, when she cries, the audience can feel just how heart broken she is. Rin only has a few spoken lines, so to have the audience care this much about her in the span of six something minutes is a great achievement on the animators’ part.
Most of the video is told through a techno beat with a deceptively bouncy tune. For a music video that doesn’t rely too much on dialogue, it’s pertinent that the music matches the video in a way that conveys whatever message the writer wishes to convey. And Robinson achieves this brilliantly. The way the techno beats sync up to Rin’s flashbacks provides the audience a queue for when they should expect more bits of the story. The lyrics to the song itself provide a sweet message that conveys the love that Rin’s father held for her and are notably heard during the more lighthearted scenes. Finally, the violins and piano that accompany Rin’s final words really work well at tugging the audience’s heartstrings and make the entire scene much more heartfelt.
Shelter is a visual story. Blink once, and not only will you miss some impressive feats in animation, you’ll miss parts of the story. From the very beginning, viewers can just feel how lonely Rin is, from the large, expansive land that she inhabits that contrasts with her humble-sized bedroom. The way that the story progresses, showing the range of emotions Rin feels in her stunning yet lonely world, transitions smoothly as it digs deeper and deeper into the mystery behind how Rin was placed there in the first place. The way that the narrative sprinkles hints to the outside world’s current state effectively builds up to the heart breaking conclusion when Rin’s father finally sends her to space away from danger. And he made sure she had her precious teddy bear with her. Awwwww.
With music, animation, and a strong story all coming together, I’d say Robinson most definitely succeeded in the message he was hoping to convert to his viewers and I look forward to seeing (or hearing) more of his work. If you liked the short film, I highly recommended watching the video below, which provides behind the scenes information on how the project was conceived.