Space & Innovation

Life's Everyday Bummers Come Alive in Animations

When a Paris-based animation studio called for unsatisfying videos, dozens of designers delivered.

<p>Cub Studio, Vimeo<span></span></p>

A pull tab snaps clean off the can without opening it. The automatic ticket comes out just a bit too far away to reach from the car. A piece of toast pops up too soon. So close to being just right, and yet so freaking far.

The team behind the Unsatisfying Challenge understands. Over the summer, directors, motion-designers and illustrators from the Paris-based animation studio Parallel created a brief video set to Samuel Barber's classically mournful "Adagio for Strings." It highlighted maddening disappointments from daily life, including a vending machine fail, a spoon falling entirely into a bowl of soup and a computer download stuck at 99 percent.

Watch it here:

"We quickly realized that there are a lot of other situations that would be fun to see animated, so we decided to run an animation challenge around this idea," they wrote online. The resulting Unsatisfying Challenge asks animators to chronicle "the frustrating, annoying, and disappointing little things of everyday life."

The rules are pretty simple. Start with a two-second title card that begins with "The," have one to 10 seconds of animation in 1080 by 1080 square pixels, and no music, just sound design. Art direction, colors, and style can be anything. Then, upload the video on Vimeo and send a link to the contest email.

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In the past week, dozens of initial entries rolled in and the Parallel team started posting them on their Vimeo page. Each animated video submission is a few seconds long and most of them do hit the mark, ironically. More than one video featured spare bowling pins, pencil tips breaking off, attempts to plug in USB cables and too little toilet paper left on the roll.

Several submissions really spoke to me. I nodded in appreciation at the ellipsis that showed up and promptly disappeared in response to a simple text message question. A tiny piece of string has definitely stymied my vacuum cleaner before. And I'm clearly not the only one to peel a sticker most of the way off only to have it tear at the last moment.

Appropriately, there's no real winner here. Parallel urges everyone to "keep sending more unsatisfying videos." If you want or need an appreciative chuckle, check out the dozens of submissions.