Animated Short “Clean Streets” Q&A with the Rauch Brothers
Mike and Tim Rauch
In honor of May Day we bring you our latest animated short, “Clean Streets.” This animation features two longtime New York City sanitation workers, Angelo Bruno and Eddie Nieves, who worked together for almost 10 years.
This animation came to life with the help of Rauch Bros. Animation. They worked behind the scenes sketching away for months, from initial sketches to building the animation frame by frame. Here you can learn all about their process behind the creation of this sweet animated short, in our quick Q&A:
What is the first step in your process once you get the story?
The first thing we do is listen to the interview several times until we have a strong internal sense of it’s timing, the visual possibilities, and what research we might want to gather.
In the course of making the animation, how many times do you listen to the interview? What are you listening for?
By the time we finish the cartoon, we’ve listened to the story an uncountable number of times. You’re always listening for something different as you go through the process from start to finish. At the outset though, during the story selection process, we’re always listening to evaluate the animation potential inherent in the story.
How do you come up with the design for the characters? What about people you don’t get to meet?
The character designs come from our understanding of the personality of the people in the story, their relationships to one another, and basic principles of appealing and functional animation design. We work with whatever we have to inform our ideas photographs, in-person visits, video, historical research, verbal descriptions, and our own personal reference points and tastes. The character design is also a product of a process between our team and StoryCorps. That tends to start with us working loose, cartooned, and expressive. We’re trying to capture some essential quality of the person. Not necessarily just “what they look like in real life.” Otherwise, it would be a lot easier to just go get a camera.
This story is set in the West Village in New York City. Did you visit the area for inspiration?
We lived in New York City until recently, so we had a very good idea of the setting. However, anybody who knows the city knows that it’s constantly changing and has many faces. So it was important to get a better understanding of the particular time and place, especially as Eddie and Angelo saw it and experienced it. Their perspective was the most valuable thing in forming our ideas of how to depict the setting. We were aiming for a version of New York that was both real and optimistic. That seemed to echo the way Eddie and Angelo see it and live it.
What was it like meeting Angelo and Eddie? What did you learn about their work that surprised you?
Tasty! We all had lunch together at Junior’s in Times Square. We had a great time getting to know them. Even in just a couple hours, you feel you’ve made a new friend and gotten to know them very well.
It was interesting to learn how much their profession has changed since Angelo first began his career. It seems that over time, the job has become more regulated, structured, and less personal. That’s part of what makes Eddie and Angelo so unique. Their eagerness to go beyond the job description people might imagine, and form personal relationships with the people they serve is part of what creates the fabric of a truly special city. The personal relationships that develop on a New York city block are some of the most vibrant, special, and meaningful connections people make.
The Real Angelo Bruno and Eddie Nieves.
StoryCorps: What inspired the recurring bird/pigeon?
We did several difficult StoryCorps shorts last year – heavy subjects, heavy workloads. When we got to Eddie and Angelo’s story, we wanted to let loose and have some fun. The pigeons were a good tool for that. Thankfully, they also helped add some entertainment value and worked with our idea for a simultaneously real and optimistic take on New York City.
Pigeons also happen to be a recurring character in many of our projects, going all the way back to very early comics and animation that Tim was doing as he graduated college. There’s a good chance they’ll keep popping up in our work.
StoryCorps: What artists worked on this animation in addition to you two? What did they bring to the table?
Rafael Rosado did the storyboard, Bill Wray painted the backgrounds, and Brandon Denmark was Tim’s animation assistant. Sal Elvezio helped with character color.
They all have a foundation in solid design and drawing skills, visual storytelling, and share our passion for doing the best work possible within the possibilities allowed by the story, our resources to bring it to the screen, and any other creative limitations of the project
How long did the process take? What was the most fun?
The production of this short ran something like 2-3 months. For us, the fun was finding ways to really introduce some strong personality and cartooning in the design and animation. Eddie and Angelo have personality in spades, so that gave us a great place to start from.
Manhattan’s West Village.
Early Clean Streets Sketches
“Clean Streets” will be available April 30, on our site!
Women’s History Month Playlist
For your listening pleasure we went into our archive and collected stories about and from powerful leading, inspiring women.
Barbara Moore spent more than 40 years working as a bricklayer in Baltimore. She was only 21 years old when she became the first woman to join her local bricklayers union. At StoryCorps she tells her daughter, Olivia, how she first got into the trade.
“Hello my name is Yusor Abu-Salha.”
One of the young victims of the tragic Chapel Hill shooting recorded a StoryCorps interview with her third grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen. All three of the Chapel Hill victims attended Jabeen’s school. Mussarut Jabeen returned recently to talk about Yusor’s life.
“I wasn’t very nice..”
Eighty-seven year old Kay Wang talks with her son Cheng, and granddaughter Chen, about her childhood and a life with no regrets.
“If you need me to hold your hand I’m there.”
Paquita Williams, an MTA train conductor, helped comfort her passengers during a time of crisis. Her passenger and now friend, Laura Lane, remembers that day with her.
“You told me you were so tired that you had fallen asleep at a red light.”
Tina Vasquez talks with her mother Sonia about witnessing how hard she worked, in many different jobs. Together they reminisce over their Friday nights at Denny’s.
“I got married the day of my 22nd birthday.”
Mala Fernando tells her daughter Ashanthi Gajaweera about the early days of her marriage in Sri Lanka and finding herself as she grew older.
“It was the first time I met openly gay people.”
During Clea Rorex’s first term as Boulder County Clerk in 1975, she began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.
“Do you remember when we were 19, totally in love, and couldn’t tell anyone?”
Bobbi Cote-Whiteacre and her wife, Sandi, talk about their relationship.
“He said to me ‘I will make sure every day is a living hell for you.'”
Tia Smallwood tells her daughter, Christine, about becoming a business woman in the 1970s. During her first job interview she was asked to get up and turn around, after refusing to do so she was hired.
“We go to cemeteries along the border…”
Dr. Lori Baker is a forensic scientist at Baylor University in Texas. She tries to identify remains and match them with families looking for lost relatives. Thousands of people have died trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Their unidentified remains often end up in unmarked graves in small border town cemeteries. She sat down for StoryCorps with her husband, Erich Baker, to talk about how she got started.
“Do you remember the first dinner together?”
Yelitza Castro has been cooking meals for homeless men and women in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2010. Through this work she met Willie Davis, who sits down with her for a StoryCorps interview and talks about how it all began.
“I went as macho as I could be to mask what I was underneath.”
Earlier this month, Dave shared four classic StoryCorps interviews with the audience at TED. Those eight voices helped everyone attending see why we believe preserving your story is so important. The following conversation is between Alexis and her daughter Lesley. Born Arthur Martinez, she joined a Chicago gang while growing up, later transitioning to the woman she was always meant to be.