Ciclope Festival 2016 Opening Film
A flying delivery drone is carrying a package across a vast ravaged landscape. This film was made as the opening to the 2016 Ciclope Festival Awards. The film was premiered in Kino International in Berlin with a Live choir on stage.
This film marked the first project that would bring Resonate Audio/SIlent Studios, NoGhost and The Line together to collaborate under the new production company banner Friends Electric. Spawned by Electric Theatre Collective this new production company aims to create original content across all forms of media, art and culture and marks a new chapter for both ETC and The Line.
Early summer of 2016 Friends Electric was approached by Ciclope to do the opening titles for their 2016 festival in Berlin. The Line was asked to be involved in producing a short piece of animation that would screen at the festival awards ceremony. We had a lot of freedom and the brief was very generous but we decided early on to set ourselves some limitations. We wanted to avoid the glitzy motion graphics-y approach taken by a lot of festival openers and thought about how we could make something that would stand out and grab peoples attention in other ways. With support from Friends Electric we started the production by locking ourselves in a room for hours, going through a lot of different ideas, many which didn't involve any animation at all and who were very different in tone until we settled on the idea of a messenger drone delivering a mystery box to a little girl.
We were inspired by vintage British Travel Posters of the 30s when we were making this film. In particular the works of Norman Wilkinson. The limited palette and very focused handling of colour and composition was something that we wanted to bring into this piece. This choice meant that we could go ahead with a project that normally would be considered too heavy or expensive for the timeframe and resources we had.
For this film, the focus wasn’t in the details necessarily but the distribution of shapes, tones and colour. These were the elements that would tell the story, not the intricacy and detail of their surfaces. We opted for minimal shading throughout and relied on hard flat colours and sharp edges. It was an aesthetic choice but also a technical consideration as we had to limit the render times and use our resources as best we could. We discovered we could render the whole film through the Hardware render in Maya which meant that most shots could be iterated on and rendered out in a matter of minutes.
Making It A Thing
When we had decided on the idea we quickly started doing lots of research, we found heaps of drone footage online and started assembling an edit of a mood film with found footage and music. This proved to be a great tool to explain to people what the film was going to be about and what the tone would be before going into full production. We then quickly laid out a rough camera move in after effects with descriptions of the actions on screen. This saved animation time and meant we didn't have to start pre-vis or storyboarding until we had the basic events in the film decided on. It then went to 3D where we laid out the basic movement and rough geometry in separate scenes. The animators then started animating the drone using animation layers blending between various movements. Each scene was done in a different file so that several people could work on different shots at the same time. The camera move and drone animation was then referenced in all of those files, rendered separately and then brought back together again in comp.
We worked together with Liam Paton from Resonate to lay down a rough music track that we would work to. Throughout the production Liam iterated and brought in more elements as we went along. The introduction of Jade Pybus voice in the mix started to cement the film and we realised that removing elements and bringing her voice to the front was going to make it more powerful.
The colours play a very important role in the film. We tried to make the important decisions early on and wanted to lock down the visuals as much as possible in the rough colour keys. When we entered the CG Build stage we could focus on the shapes and the distribution of them instead of spending precious time on the rendering and shading. The final film retains much of the look and feel of Bjorns colours from these initial paintings.
The different environments were created with a mixture of 2D and 3D elements mixing actual geometry with hand painted elements . Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Marion Bordeyne and Tom Flavelle worked together to define the details of the structures, trees, plants and landscapes.
We explored a few different drone designs before we landed on the final version. The animation was done by blending between several different animation layers in Maya to create varied and unique movement through the whole piece
The characters were designed by Bjorn-Erik Aschim and animated by Tim McCourt and Sam Taylor
A massive thank you to everyone who worked with us on this.
Written and Directed by Bjørn-Erik Aschim
Co Directed by Max Taylor
Production company : Friends Electric
Executive Producer Alex Webster
Produced by Dom Thomson-Talbot, Alex Webster, Orlaith Turner
Music and Sound Design by Liam Paton, Jade Pybus, Resonate Music
Designed by Bjørn-Erik Aschim, Marion Bordeyne, Thomas Flavelle
CG Lead Thomas Flavelle
CG Modeling Davide Pieropan, Bjørn-Erik Aschim, Max Taylor, Thomas Flavelle
2D Animation, Tim McCourt, Sam Taylor
Inbetweening & Cleanup Josep Bernaus, Amix FIlm Studio Ltd
3D Animation Ed Sherwood, Pierre Plouzeau, Paul Templeman
Compositing Sam Taylor, Max Taylor, Thomas Flavelle, Bjørn-Erik Aschim
Additional Music by Liam Byrne,Mara Carlyle, Cianán Curran
Additional Creative by, Paul Burker, Lydia Raghaven
Special Thanks Ciclope Festival, Francisco Condorelli, Lewis Crossfield, Nanou Blair Gould, Jenny Wells