Paris vs. New York

NORD Collective’s Animated Homage to a Cult Book and the Cities Which Inspired it

Is it possible to condense the essence of two of the world’s most iconic cities into a quickfire animated montage lasting less than two minutes? Moscow-based animator and designer Alex Frukta, Co-Founder of Nord Collective certainly thinks so. In fact, he sees the brevity as essential: “It is difficult to hold the modern viewer on the screen for longer than 5-10 seconds without them getting distracted by something like Twitter or Instagram,” he tells us.

“We tried to create saturated cartoon scenes, that you can turn on from any second and you will not have the feeling that you missed out on something.” The animation, a witty and vivid juxtaposition of these two cultural capitals is inspired by Vahram Muratyan’s 2012 book Paris versus New York: A Tally of Two Cities.

The Cosmic Setter, a dear friend of theirs, was asked to write and perform original music to accompany the animation. The result is a lively celebration of clichés and peculiarities characteristic of each city.

We spoke to Alex further about this delightful piece of animation:

The Plus: This video is an adaptation of the book? In what ways are your illustrations and styles similar to the book, and in what ways do they differ?
Alex Frukta:
Undoubtedly the book inspired me to do this work, but another significant motivation was the fact that I spent two weeks in Paris and three months in New York earlier this year. Both the book and the video present a story of the difference between these two cities. Another similarity is we decided to retain the font used in the book. However, we have tried our best to get away from Vahram’s illustrations. For example, we can compare the scene Disneyland-Times Square from the book and from the cartoon: they are completely different degrees of painstaking illustration.

TP: Could you tell us a little bit about Nord Collective, and your creative and collaborative process?
I founded Nord Collective together with my friend Vladimir Tomin in October 2013. We immediately set to work on a number of different projects. Vladimir lives in Khabarovsk and I live in Moscow, meaning there’s a seven-hour time difference – he’s in the future and I’m in the past! This doesn’t interfere with our work though, it means the studio is able to work round the clock.

TP: What are you currently working on?
As ever, we’re working on a number of different commercial projects. We are already discussing what our next creative, non-commercial venture will be, but I can’t tell you about it yet – you’ll just have to wait and see!

TP: Finally, do you have a favourite out of Paris and New York?
That’s a devious question! I don’t want to offend Paris, but I do prefer New York.