A few weeks ago, we posted the incredible Pause Fest 2014 ID by Váscolo. We were so captivated by this piece, we had to learn more. In addition to this “making of” we are excited to share our interview with Vascolo’s Director, Martín Schurmann, about their work on this piece.
Digital Canvas: Pause Fest in Melbourne seemed to grab any and every top notch design studio to create a piece for them, and you guys certainly set the bar incredibly high! What was the process like creating for this event? Did the client have specific instructions, guidelines and themes or were you basically given creative freedom?
Martín: First of all, thank you very much for the compliment and the opportunity you’re giving us to explain our process behind this piece.
In July / August 2013 the Pause Fest organization invited us to participate of the creation of an ID or Pause Cribs. We decided that we wanted to create an ID because they gave us freedom to make a 90 seconds long piece. We’ve been meaning to do an experimental piece for so long, play with various mixed techniques, and unleash our imagination without the typical restrictions we have to deal with when we work for a client. There was only one specific request: the theme of Pause Fest 2014 was to be connected; if possible, the ID should reflect this concept or at least so we understood.
Digital Canvas: How did you go about conceptualizing these incredible designs and elaborate transitions? What is the ultimate message behind your creation?
Martín: To fully understand the way in which we conceptualized the designs and transitions, I would like to tell you what the process was like in a chronological order.
While we were invited in July/August, we had other projects to finish, and we could just get started with the first in-house meetings of brainstorming in early October 2013. Honestly, materializing all the ideas that we had was way more complex that we could imagine. On one hand, working without restrictions is really rewarding, but it is also very hard; freedom can work as an infinite space where you may feel lost at first, but this happens because you want to play with everything you have.
Managing to choose one or two ideas out of the 10 we came up with, and, at the same time, feeling convinced that it could work at graphic level was a very difficult task. We actually started to sketch a quite different idea to the one that we finally chose. At that point, with the very first sketches, we realized it was not going to work. It was the end of October, we had some sketches and an idea which weren’t satisfying, and we had to deliver a piece in mid-December.
Finally we decided to work on a second idea which we had kind of liked best. By and large, we wanted to be able to show different devices that allowed us to be connected in different eras and reveal it through a journey with complex transitions. We made a list of the situations we could create and at first, we just sketched the most relevant or interesting ones. We noticed, with those first sketches, that this piece shouldn’t be just an inventory device, it should have something implicit, we didn’t have to give to the viewers something already digested, but let them do their own process, otherwise it wouldn’t be graceful. We had to generate a different approach, mix up the devices, the eras, in an almost surreal journey.
We created a freehand storyboard and that’s how we came up with the idea of a hand turning into a mouth that screams ‘Morse code’, which turns into a planet with smoke signals. These could be SMS in a cell phone, from where a bird comes out crossing the city which is, in turn, of a palm of a hand, to end up with what we consider the most basic and primitive connection of all: the human contact.
And this is the message we wanted to convey, to be connected today is essential, but that connection becomes cold, distant, indifferent, unless there is human contact, a hug, a kiss.
Digital Canvas: Did you go through rounds of designs and motion tests before you saw what you were looking for, or did you have a general idea of what you wanted right from the start? And where did this vibrant, gorgeous color palette come from?
Martín: To tell you the truth, it was a quite different process to the ones we usually carry out for other projects. Once we’d finished the storyboard, we verified that the idea could work, then we started to design every layout and that’s when we felt we were on the right track. We presented the idea and the design to the Pause Fest organization and they just loved it which made us feel at ease.
We also liked the color palette, we wanted to play with vibrant saturated colors because being connected is something almost abstract, we wanted the colors to convey a specific message, a direction, and a connection.
In general, we usually work with vibrant colors, we feel comfortable with that, and we look for other color references too. We could say that this palette came from references and color tests that we liked.
Regarding the motion stage, it was something totally different, it wasn’t clear until the piece was almost done, ha-ha.
Digital Canvas: In terms of the animation, do you mind just taking us through the general pipeline? This is such a unique and complex piece, I’m sure many people are wondering where you would even start? Did you build out any of the moves in 3D beforehand to get perspective and timings correct?
Martín: We knew that in order to animate the different scenes we had in the correct way, we needed to work with different resources and techniques in each of the takes.
Every scene and transition had certain complexity. But probably the most complicated ones were the one of the smoke turning into clouds, and the one of the bird flying across the city. In the first one, we thought we could solve it with C4D and we started some tests. We knew that the scene of the bird had to be done frame by frame, but we needed a good camera animation beforehand.
We started in parallel with these tests and with the camera animation for every scene; the idea was to join everything in a first animatic. We adjusted the internal and general timesof each scene; we must have worked for two weeks until we reached one animatic with harsh internal animations, but with a perceptible camera flow that made us feel more convinced. So, with the finished animatic, we started to animate each scene. We did some very quick and domestic shots of the hand selecting an application, of two hands joining, and a mouth speaking, in order to be able to copy the movements in C4D. After several tests, we found the necessary fluidity for the clouds. We gave the camera setting to our friend Juan Andrés Molteno for the scene of the bird, and we gave him complete freedom to surprise us with his incredible animations.
All things considered, the animation process was the following:
1- Animatic / first tests
2- Camera setting
3- Internal animation of each scene
5- Animation of details.
Digital Canvas: What were the programs you guys used, and how large was your team?
Martín: We used the basic programs: Illustrator, Photoshop, C4D, and After Effects. The team consisted of a creative director and an executive producer, two designers, one animation director, four 3D / after animators, one frame by frame animator, a producer and a sound designer. All in all, 10 people participated in the creation of this piece.
Digital Canvas: Was it a tight turnaround, or something you were able to take your time with and enjoy the process?
Martín: Honestly, there was some of both things. At the beginning, when we were called to create the ID, we were really excited to have the opportunity to develop an experimental piece for a festival like Pause Fest. As time went by and some things weren’t working out, we started to feel a little bit nervous, especially when we had to drop the first idea and sketches; I think that was the point at which we hit rock bottom on a creative level.
As we decided to change course, things started to flow again and we started to enjoy the design and animation processes. The last two weeks were amazing because we noticed that everything was working, and therefore, we could focus on the details.
We always learn something with each project. In this case we learned that when you feel something is not working out or it’s being forced out, it’s necessary to start from scratch. Deciding to take a different direction and seeing how everything started to flow naturally was very liberating and gratifying.
See the final piece: