Friday, April 30, 2010

Cutting Out Their Niche in Animation

Thursday night, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a presentation from Soyeon Kim and Todd Hemker of YellowShed, a freelance animation firm working for nearly a decade in the commercial market… And, I must say, from the very start I was humbled.

Sitting together with the mixed audience of students and professional animators, we began our evening in the lecture hall of Kansas City Art Institute’s Irving building. But shortly after the lights dimmed, our real journey began into YellowShed’s world of spinning color and motion.

We opened with Kim’s 1996 first feature, “Circus.” According to the blog description, the brilliant ‘undergraduate thesis film won an award and has been screened in many international film festivals.’ To our audience, it was a parade of deep blue clowns, acrobats, fireworks and animals elegantly dancing for our entertainment. With delicate precision, Kim brought the pointillism school to life. Soon, we all mirrored the animated audience in the film with the same looks of wonder. It was clearly evident why it took Kim a year of pain-staking work to design.

After a brief pause and a few words of explanation, Hemker took his turn at the podium. He prolonged our animated expedition with sepia images from his 2001 first feature, “Seven Corners.” His hand-drawn figures masterfully moved through an urban jungle indicative of Hemker’s architectural background. The film accurately depicted the grit of human nature using playful transitions between light, shadow and the silent, serious communcation between characters.

From these humble beginnings, Hemker and Kim have since built a reputation in commercial design. Their clients include the Mall of America, the New York Times, Comcast and Nickelodeon Movies.

Through simple evolution of their craft, the YellowShed team is particularly sought out for its “cut-out” graphic style. However, the pair continues to develop new methods, to take on challenging assignments and to devote what time they can to experimental projects.

From their blog: YELLOWSHED is a collaborative effort between two artists, Soyeon Kim and Todd Hemker, whose specialties are in various animation techniques, illustration, and design. Since 2001, the two have been involved with a broad range of projects, working professionally in the world of advertising and film production as directors, art directors, designers, and animators.

You can also check out the rest of their work on their website:

Dylan Dietz is a MAPA member and Associate Producer at NBC Action News in Kansas City.  He can be reached at or feel free to check out his website:


Here is a response we got from Todd Hemker of YellowShed:

I wrote:

Dear Todd and Soyeon,

I wanted to write you after having the unique and wonderful opportunity to see your presentation at KCAI last night. To say the least, it was stirring.

Thank you so much for taking the time to bring your masterful art to our community. Speaking for both my fellows and myself, we have been inspired.

I wish you all the best success in your future endeavors and thank you again for the opportunity.


Dylan Dietz
Midwest Association of Professional Animators (MAPA)
Cell: 816-267-0719

Todd Replied:

Hi Dylan,
Thanks for your kind words! We were honored to have the opportunity to share our experiences with everyone, and it was super gratifying to feel such support from everyone.

We really enjoyed coming to KCAI, and were inspired ourselves, today, by all the great work the students are doing there. It was a great reminder to us that animation is supposed to be fun - which is what the students seemed to be having!



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