Ishihara – English version from Yoav Brill on Vimeo.

In an exquisite short film, animator Yoav Brill of Tel Aviv, Israel, tells a story entirely with dots. “Ishihara” draws its name and inspiration from the visual tests used to detect color blindness. The story becomes a poignant reflection on difference.

The film was just translated to English; for the original Hebrew, see after the jump. I asked Yoav to tell us more. He produced his own musical score (generously crediting Steve Reich with inspiration) as well as scripting and animating the film.

What’s the story behind the narration? Do you have personal experience with color blindness?

The story is half-autobiographical. I am a color blind, and so are two of of my brothers, so the film is based both on my and their experiences, with additional dramatization of course. I’ve also held a couple of interviews with color-blind people as a research.

The initial idea was to make a film about the similarities between color blindness and homosexuality, so there’s a little bit of that in the film also, but I’ve learned to know that this sub-issue is not visible to everyone (which is, in a way, exactly what the film talks about).

The animation is really striking. How was the film produced?

The film was made using Flash and After Effects. Flash was used for the scenes involving crowds of dots. I used After Effects for the “close ups” and composition of the film. It was edited on Adobe Premiere. Music and sound I composed on Apple Logic and Ableton Live.

Given the subject matter, how did you approach the color palette in your animation?

I’ve tried to keep the saturation of the pallet narrow, so the differences between the colors would be unclear also to “normal” viewers. My color blindness was not a big problem, since it’s mostly reds and greens that are problematic, and only with certain hues. After a while you remember the CMYK numbers!

How did you prepare the sequence of the animation? The storytelling, visually, is really clear. At the same time, it seems like something like this would be tricky to storyboard.

I didn’t draw an exact storyboard. Since the script, animation, AND music were my own, I’ve built the visuals based on the rhythm of the story, then recorded it and played with the relationship between sound and visuals to create something that will be fluid rather than logical.

After I had an animatic, I recorded the narration again. What you’ve watched is an English version based on the original Hebrew one.

Yoav’s work has gotten recognition: it won the local Hafia film festival and was just screened at the Encounters fest in Bristol. I imagine it could spread far beyond that. Hebrew version below, followed by more quick work from his Vimeo, which give you a nice sense of his personality.

Ishihara – Hebrew Version from Yoav Brill on Vimeo.

Bicycle Bear from Yoav Brill on Vimeo.

Der Blutige Ernst from Yoav Brill on Vimeo.

  • I'm color blind too!! 😛
    The animation is superb!!
    I don't know if a non-color blind person can really get to understand what happens yet they can get the idea. It's quite common to try to explain what I see and what I do not, and surprisingly almost everyone thinks you see nothing.
    I went to the arts school at university and I had to go through the Color class. It was more difficult to me than for the others, (my color blindness is not so severe) but it really helped me to understand my limitation with color and almost completely overcome it. So yes, it's all in our mind, we just need to do some adjustmends over the default way that our brain understands the data sent by our eyes.


    PS: I cant see very well the numbers in the beginning. Can you?

  • ash

    Finding out I was colourblind at the age of six changed my perspective forever. When, at a family dinner, my question about the shade of a particular crayon sparked a family argument I realized that 10 people see 10 different worlds. It is nothing short of miraculous that we ever agree on any one thing. Colourblind or not, no two people have any way of knowing they are seeing the same thing, and they never will.

  • Pete

    Very well made. Enjoyed it.
    I am colourblind too (not so severe though) and I found there were quite some recognizable scenes. I can't see the numbers in the intro either; I suppose it's just a countdown? 1,2,3,4?

  • Tracey Driver

    Hi guys, im a 3rd year graphic design student at Inscape Design college South Africa. Please can I get to ask you guys question how you cope in the design industry being colour blind. Im doing my research paper on colour blind designers and would really like to understand it through the eyes of a colour blind person.