Paperman – A short animation from Disney

Disney have produced this charming short animation telling the story of a chance encounter at a train station and the struggle and desire to seize this moment and convert it onto something more meaningful. FX Guide has an in-depth look at the story behind the short, including detail on the technical considerations in achieving the painterly 3D look.

What the article doesn’t discuss, but was something that struck me, was its suggestion of the paintings of Edward Hopper in both the use of  light, and the framing of shots through window openings; the young woman on the train as seen from the platform, the young woman in the office as seen from the outside, the young man in the office as seen from the outside. Then, as the credits roll, we see the young couple sat within a cafe, framed by the large window and a view of the sunny exterior. At least here (and this is Disney after all) we are provided a happy conclusion. In the work of Hopper, the characters are usually alone and never happy.

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Update: Paperman won the Oscar for Best Animated Short at last nights Oscars!

V-Ray Digital Environments in Looper

Kevin Baillie of Atomic Fiction talks about using V-Ray  renderer in their digital effects work on a number of recent films, including some very impressive digital environments for Looper.

Scroll to 1 min 55 seconds to get straight to the Looper digital environments, but the rest of the interview is also worth viewing.

The interview is via the Chaos Group TV channel.

Update 31/01/2013 – Since writing this post, Atomic Fiction (via Twitter) have directed me to some online articles about their effects work on looper at the following locations:

The Art of VFX

FX Guide

Beware of spoilers!

LOOPER_digital environment

Bulletstorm v’s Halo 3: Believe TV ads

I hadn’t heard of the game called Bulletstorm before, but this diorama style, TV ad created by New Deal Studios caught my eye recently. In the ad, a camera sweeps through a landscape featuring characters from the game, caught in a frozen moment in time. It is a very deliberate, but playful pastiche of the Halo 3: Believe spot from 2007, spoofing many of the vignettes in the earlier work and adding its own little gag to the hero pose at the end. Where the Halo 3 piece is advertising dressed as myth making (see the Museum of Humanity “documentary”), the Bulletstorm ad establishes it’s own credentials by flipping the bird at pre-sold franchises.

And for reference, here’s the original Halo 3 spot from 2007 which features an exquisite and epically proportioned diorama, also built by New Deal Studios.

A number of behind the scenes photographs of this diorama can be found over on fxguide – scroll down to just below the set of images for The Aviator.

And of course, before the Halo 3 spot came a number of dioramas created by the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. The most ambitious of these was Hell (1999), comprised of over 30,000 figures, many of which were Nazi soldiers enacting scenes of torture and cruelty. The piece was destroyed in the MOMART fire of 2004 but then re-created anew as F***ing Hell (2008).

Ironically, it’s usually the games that are criticised for their depictions of violence.

Dredd 3D – Building Blocks in need of a few real world constraints


A short, behind the scenes piece on the design and VFX work done by Prime Focus to create Mega City One for Dredd 3D. The filmmakers chose to build their fictional city by adding to the existing fabric of Johannesburg. The realism appears grimier, lived in and more tangible as a result.

If I have one reservation about the designs in these digital set extensions, it would be that the blocks are treated purely as forms without reference to their function or environment. Specifically, the floor plates on the blocks are really massive, which would make the cores deep within these buildings oppressively dark in a way that would make Hong Kong’s Chung King Mansion seem generously light and airy in comparison. Even a slum needs light, and the struggle to introduce this light would lead to a different footprint and therefore an alternate form for the towers – time spent studying architecture does have its benefits.

As much as I like the look of these visuals, I would like to have seen the design extended further through the application of some real world constraints.