Lilly Trietsch


Bachelor of Design Compositing Rotoscoping Video Moving Image Photography Narrative Abstract

My project explores the methods of visually conveying the stages of grief and acceptance through the use and techniques of visual effects and digital simulations. ‘Stain’ is a short VFX film following an ordinary man who is searching for his wife, whilst getting lost in his own warped memories in a story of guilt, loss and grief. Through this paper, I will explore the multiple practices I have researched for showing grief and loss by analyzing existing creative works such as Jennifer Kent’s psychological horror film, ‘The Babadook’ and Ernest Hartmann’s commentary on the paper, “Dreams Contextualize Emotion - A New Way of Understanding Dreams and Dream Symbolism”. The film explores an abstract method of the emotion of grief, however, revealing that if you do not accept these feelings that are generally perceived as negative, it can leave a ‘stain’ on you unless you accept it. The film’s transitions are also presented in a way to suggest the passing of time. With the use of cinematic cuts and visual effects, there have been smooth transitions to transport the character from one place to another, to suggest that this is not reality. In addition to this, I have investigated the several ways I can show the themes of loss through a range of organic simulations.

My short film, 'Stain', follows an ordinary man who is searching for his wife, gets lost in his own warped memories in a story of guilt, loss and grief. My primary aim for this project was to explore the ways I can visually convey the narrative's themes. My aim was to create a cinematic, realistic and abstract piece to convey these emotions that are typically portrayed as 'negative', and how to cope with them through a dream sequence.

Heavily influenced by Jennifer Kent's psychological horror, 'The Babadook', which follows a mother who is grieving the death of her husband. She copes with his death by convincing herself that she has moved on by keeping quiet of the situaton. Within my own project, my goal was to show the journey of a man's acceptance of the loss of his wife. He begins searching for his wife who is seen walking into a sandstorm, which leads to her death. He yells out her name but she ignores his calls regardless. As she continues to walk in to the sandstorm, the man can choose to follow her destiny or he can attempt to evade the storm and follow his own path. He decides to escape the storm and wakes up as an elderly man- his present-self.

I primarily chose to simulate a sandstorm to illustrate the dream sequence of the wife's passing. The action of her ignoring her husband's calls as she walks into the chaotic storm is to replicate the emotions of guilt as the man has no control over what happens. This concept was supported by psychoanalyst, Ernest Hartmann and his analysis, "Dreams Contextualize Emotion- a New Way of Understanding Dreams and Dream Symbolism". The scenery of a large, chaotic natural disaster  is something that we are familiar with and dreaming this scenario is something that can reflect our emotions in the waking life. We have no control over natural disasters, such as a sandstorm, therefore, we feel emotions such as guilt, loss and other feelings such as anxiety, as we ultimately have no control over the scenario. Hence, why we must accept these emotions in order to understand them and move on, otherwise it can leave a stain on us that can be hard to clean.