Why we find tiny chefs like Pillsbury's Doughboy and Ratatouille’s Remy so adorable, I do not know. (Seriously, who really wants a gelatinized pile of flour or a rat cooking your meal?) But the great tradition of tiny chefs is going nowhere, as the two-man studio Skullmapping proves with its series of immeasurably charming animated shorts featuring Le Petit Chef.
An experiment in projection mapping—where a projector is programmed to fire images onto 3-D surfaces without distortion—Le Petit Chef is designed to appear on your dinner table where he assembles your plate via whimsical improvisation. Here he is risking life and limb in the frozen arctic, just to make you a sundae.
And here, Let Petit Chef battles a giant octopus to serve you a plate of bouillabaisse.
(You’d better appreciate that bouillabaisse.)
"It is quite intensive," the Skullmapping team writes of the process. "We do spend a lot of time getting everything right, going from the concept to finished project can take up to six weeks. 3-D animation (or animation in general) is a labor intensive work. [But] we also do a lot of tests, by projecting the animation on a table to see the effect, since a projected image is different than an image you watch on your computer screen."
The shorts began as a client project, but when the deal fell through, Skullmapping continued the work and decided to simply project the shorts for lucky friends who are served dinner on the studio’s back porch. They’re also available for restaurants to license.
In an era when restaurants are parodied for their tedious methodologies of spelling out exactly which organic, free range pork farm their food has come from, Le Petit Chef introduces a less cloying narrative, one that manages to convey the efforts behind the dish in front of you, while leaving a smile on your face that no server will induce with the age-old question "so how’s everything look?"
As for Skullmapping, it sees big potential in these small screen projection venues. "There are a lot of companies working with 3-D mapping, and the tendency is to project each project on even bigger buildings," they team writes. "While we are moving in the opposite direction ;-)"