Go mad in space on a journey through a martian landscape and psychedelia. Check out our video for N.A.S.A.’s “Gifted” feat. Kanye West, Santigold and Lykke Li. Extra mega thanks to everyone who made it out to the Flux premiere.
The N.A.S.A. guys came to us with a dynamite track. They created an album that, at its core, was about the merging of cultures and collaboration between different peoples. The ultimate goal was to have it be as much about the art it inspired as the music itself. A video for every track was planned. What a cool project to be a part of. On top of that, it was basically an open brief.
We put our heads together and knocked out a couple of ideas. They were super into it, and we were off and running. And at the risk of sabotaging ourselves, here’s our original treatment!
Animatic / Design
The major challenge for this project, other than the budget, was a ridiculous turnaround. Originally, it called for a two week turnaround. Easy as pie we thought. It quickly became apparent that 3:30 of HD animation was going to call for just a little bit more time.
We brought in our trusted ally slash design wizard, Mark Kulakoff, to just do what he does. We also wrangled in a new face to the 3L team, Mike Tavarez. Between the 5 of us, we were storyboarding, cutting, designing, collecting, making, and just going straight R&D on this thing. Peep the original animatic.
Oh and check out all of our preliminary designs/motion tests/ and other nonsense.
The astronaut went through a lot of development. Balancing the design with ease of animation, and emotional expression was quite a challenge. The whole piece was based in photographic reality, and this guy would be no different. He’s mostly constructed around one heavily modified photograph, but for all the closeups and other such, a lot of different elements were used to put together his final look.
Thanks to our great friends and business associates Darren Foldes for posing to be the astronauts face, and Rich Pring for being the dead astronaut… sorry Pring.
A week into the project, we looked at where we were at and said “oh shit!”. A desperate call was made to another veteran 3L crew member, our good buddy Dylan Spears. Thus began the series of lonnnnnnnng nights and filthy energy drinks. Below is our progress print one week from delivery…
Keeping track of the 52 shots in this video was a project in of itself. We laid out all the storyboards in sequential order, then began the task of breaking this thing down into its respective challenges. This is pretty standard stuff for any project at any company, but maybe you want to see this stuff. Board 1 (green and black) is the layout progress. Board 2 (orange) was our goal for completed shots on 02.15, aka a week from delivery. Board 3 (red) are all shots that required character/facial animation. And board 4 (multicolored) was the shot assignments, each color representing one of the 5 of us. Wow!
To be honest, this project was a fuck fiesta. A slow and easy start, turned into an insane run for our money that left us all broken men. Fortunately, we snagged a 1 week extension which only worsened our health. The final stretch had us in the studio from Friday morning through Monday evening. Straight through the weekend, with only a combined several hours of uncomfortable sleep at the studio was needed to get shit done. We hadn’t experienced such grueling conditions since our final stretch of senior year at Otis college. Sigh, we aren’t as young as we used to be.
Here are some photos of our trials and tribulations.
We learned a lot on that project, most of which revolved around how outdated our computers are (sidenote: we’ve since treated ourselves to brand new computer muscle, suck it HD). Turns out that full HD can be a real fuckbutt. The render times coming out of After Effects made our jaws drop. It was just pure pain. Pure fucking pain. But the project got finished to a level of quality that all of us are proud of, everyone was happy, and thats all that matters.
We are sincerely indebted to the time, energy, and creative contributions made to the project by Mark, Mike, and Dylan. More than any other project we’ve been on, this one would not have happened without them. Thanks guys.
If you really can’t get enough, peep our sweet little presentation at the Flux premiere.