The Cochlear Implant Animator
A fascinating interview with Animator and Director, Eric Giessmann, who talks about his path to success, losing his hearing and what inspired him to create the ‘Ciborg/Cochlear Implant animation.
An impressive and unique piece of work
It was a rainy day in May 2018. I was checking my social media pages. I came across an animation titled, 'Ciborg/Cochlear Implant animation.' Intrigued, I clicked the play button. What followed was an animation explaining the workings of a Cochlear Implant. But, this was no ordinary animation. It was unique in that it had a virtual reality and cartoonish feel to it. A melodic and chilled out soundtrack accompanied the animation. I couldn’t help thinking ‘what an impressive and unique piece of work.’
The question I'm often asked... How does a Cochlear Implant work?
When travelling from country to country, I meet new people daily. They often ask me how does a Cochlear Implant work? I've always found it difficult to explain. So, now it's easy for me. I refer them to this animation! In the past, I've taught D/deaf awareness. Explaining the Cochlear Implant was always my Achilles’ heel. This animation is simplicity itself. Every D/deaf awareness trainer on the planet should use this clip!
I wanted to know more about the person behind the animation. My research led me to a man named Eric Giessmann. In his busy schedule, I managed to grab a quick interview with him online.
Giessmann, now 31, is at the onset of his career as an Animator and Director for animated short movies. He was born in a small town in Germany. As a child, he had an appetite to learn everything. But, he had to be realistic. He didn't have the time to do everything. So, he focused on computers and animation.
'To show something is sometimes better than to talk about it'
Giessmann launched his Cochlear Implant animation on Facebook one evening. He then thought nothing more of it until he checked his account a few days later. "I had no expectations whatsoever," he says. "But, the reaction to my work was incredible. There were many comments praising its content and quality. Alongside this, I noticed a sharing count of more than 1600 times on the Internet! I felt very proud.'
"When I developed the animation, I used a variety of Virtual Reality techniques and software tools. I wanted to tell people what a Cochlear Implant is. I wanted to combine this with a portrait of myself. I wanted it to be understandable to everybody. To show something is sometimes better than to talk about it"
A devastating blow
The animation's success saw him inundated with job offers. But, his path to success hasn't always been smooth. He was a student at University when he lost his hearing.
"It was very sudden. One minute I could hear and the next I couldn't. Before losing my hearing I had the diagnosis of Cogan's Syndrome. (Cogan's syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the eyes and inner ears.) So, I was demonstrating symptoms of this. But, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to lose my hearing. Alongside this, I lost my normal balance. It was devastating and I saw a big black hundred metre deep hole before me."
He is quick to acknowledge how important the Cochlear Implant is to him...
"When I lost my hearing I experienced very bad tinnitus. The Cochlear Implant has reduced this to an almost acceptable volume. And of course, I can hear again after a two-year timespan of total deafness! It is not completely perfect for me. When I listen to music, it’s not comparable with normal hearing. But there are songs with two drums for example which sound kind of naturalistic."
A strong work ethic
He never stopped working through the difficult times. He tells me about his latest work, the short film, 'The Sand Wanderer.' This is his most ambitious project to date.
"It's had a production time of 2 years and in the process, I've worked with a Sound Designer, Composer and Script Coach. It's in distribution right now. This means its screened, at different short film festival cinemas, worldwide. For me, it's a very exciting time!"
Before I conclude the interview, I'm keen to know what motivates him. He pauses and replies with a wry smile,
"I'm an eternal optimist and yes, it may sound a cliché, but, always keep looking on the bright side of life. There are things you can’t control and some of them are bad. Keep working and keep creating. Ensuring output is the secret."
Cochlear Implant life
As he says goodbye, I can't help thinking what a remarkable talent he is. With the tools at his disposal and hard graft, he has created his own success story. It hasn't been all plain sailing as we have seen.
He has battled back against adversity and adapted to 'Cochlear Implant life.' This is a life where a person's hearing is reborn. And when a person's hearing is reborn, it can be, dare I say it, a magical feeling. You feel alive again. You feel inspired. You feel motivated. When you feel like this then creativity can be at its very finest. And it's at this moment that impressive and unique pieces of work, such as Giessmann's Ciborg/Cochlear Implant animation, come to fruition.
If you're interested in Eric Giessmann's work please check out his website and portfolio at:-www.ericgiessmann.com
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If you like this article, you might like... Ten Years On - The Silver Linings. An emotional true story about sudden hearing loss, tinnitus and the journey back.
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