The Lost Thing
Part of the Shaun Tan Education Resource.
The lost thing is a very odd-looking character that doesn’t have the conventional appeal associated with the cute, large-eyed creatures that are a feature of many animated stories. When the time came to animate this large creature with a metal carapace, large claws and no real eyes, the animators chose to use movement to emphasise its gentle personality.
- What was your response to the lost thing character in the animation?
- Did you find the character appealing?
- What is it about the character that you found appealing? Explain providing specific examples.
- What did the animators do to achieve this effect?
- Watch the video below of Shaun Tan sketching the lost thing and listen to the artist describe the different elements of the character.
- List the different things that inspired Shaun Tan's design of the lost thing.
- What advice does Shaun Tan give about designing a character for animation?
- Many stories are told about outsiders who don’t fit in.
- What are some of the ways the lost thing is represented as an outsider in the book and then in the animation?
- Even though the lost thing has a body like an army tank, we perceive it as something that needs to be looked after.
- How have the animators managed to suggest that this large rusty creature is defenceless and in need of protection?
- How important is the lost thing’s walking movements in communicating its vulnerability?
- Initially when designing the sound of the lost thing, sound designer John Kassab, tried to match sounds to the creature’s movements and discovered that he had created a ‘metal calamity‘.
- The approach Kassab decided upon was based on the idea that ‘less is more’. Describe what he means by focusing on a specific scene in the film.
- Describe the sounds that accompany the lost thing’s movements.
- How do sound and music affect our response to the lost thing?
- Foley sound effects are recorded sounds that work with the visuals to tell the story.
- Film, or if you have the time and patience, animate a short scene. Record a series of sound effects on a mobile device. Drop film and sound assets into a film editing program such as Movie Maker or iMovie and use your sounds to help tell the story.
Courtesy Lothian Books/Hachette