Launching the Starship Hirin™
Some knives are tools. Rugged and worn, not unimportant but often forgotten until they’re needed. But like any form of functional design, knifemaking has always been about creating something more. It’s a craft that, when mastered, becomes an art: stylistic, subjective, and story-driven. At the extreme, such a knife may cease to be a tool altogether—not for lack of ability, but merely because it’s more powerful for what it is than what it can do.
The Hirin™ is one such example. Its name in Japanese loosely translates to “flying ring,” a reference to the rising sun. It serves as a reminder that all matter, including the acid-etched Damasteel® in the blade and the anodized titanium in the handle, was at one time forged in the heart of a star.
Designed by Dew Hara in Seki, Japan, the Hirin™ hails from a city with centuries of knifemaking tradition. Dew’s own father, Koji Hara, is a world-renowned custom knifemaker, known for his extremely high-end designs.
But even with all the tradition and pedigree, the Hirin™ is uniquely Dew. The sleek, spaceship-like design was inspired by his childhood love of science fiction, which instilled in him a deep fascination with outer space. He says the Hirin™ was designed to express the energy of the universe: mesmerizing and full of wonder. You see this in the intricacies of the skeleton handle that invite your eyes to explore, and in the elegance of the symmetrical blade, sharpened on a single edge. To showcase that wonder, we turned to Tucker Barrie, who practices another form of art, one that happens to share a long history with science fiction: stop motion animation.
“Stop motion is the perfect choice for science fiction. It was the original form of animation for that type of story. It’s a classic look.”
You may not know him by name, but Tucker’s hands have touched some of the biggest animated movies in recent history, including Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and the upcoming Laika film, Wildwood.
Tucker took the Hirin™ and turned it into the main character of its own short sci-fi film. In an 8-by-12-foot home studio, he recreated the vastness of space in a miniature film set, complete with a starry backdrop, custom-fabricated planets, and even “JJ Abrams” lens flares (a must-have for any true sci-fi movie).
While you may think the disciplines of knifemaking and animation are wholly different, similarities abound. Both involve a thoughtful pre-production process; both employ myriad tools to create custom components; and both require precision to bring everything together in a way that is simultaneously functional and visually arresting.
And stop motion is no less painstaking a process than producing a custom knife. On a feature film, an animator may need to move dozens of individual pieces on a single character for each frame. Here, as few as 10 frames may be animated in a day. When played back at the standard rate of 24 frames per second, that’s less than half a second of footage.
Fortunately, a folding knife is somewhat simpler when it comes to articulation, meaning Tucker was able to accelerate this process and animate up to 15 full seconds per day.
The result is the 30-second epic you see here, a product “launch” video that shows a knife in an entirely different way, animated in a style that pays homage to the movies and shows its designer grew up on.
“I loved seeing my knife star in its own science fiction film,” says Dew. “How cool is that?”
A knife, inspired by science fiction, now inspiring science fiction. You could say it’s come full circle—fitting for something named “flying ring.”
The Hirin™ is available now as a limited release exclusively on CRKT.com.