Oblivion – Behind the Scene

It was a fun journey being in a Big Screens team.

None of us is a professional animator, scriptwriter or director, but we made this film, and we are so proud of it.

The story

Oblivion was not the first story we come up with. We had a story called “Mr. Rabbit” about a man trapped in a room, and there is a hitman coming to kill him. We made it like a suspense movie and finally the viewers have all the clues leading to the answer.

Click to view the complete storyboard

This was the first time we try to utilize the divided screen and leave some clues on the left part of the screen.
And the feature continued as we move to our second script, Oblivion.

The IAC video wall is gorgeous, which means it has the highest contrast we can get. So we really wanna to create some astonishingly beautiful scenes, to satisfy our viewers.

So we created this story based on this classic arch plot structure.

Click to view the complete storyboard

Before we begin, each of us brings some intriguing elements, such as giant, space, stars, death, abyss, infinite ocean, and mirror, then we brainstorm to put them together to create some plot.

In the first part, our protagonist gets his motif, which is to save his dying sister. And in his inner mind, he sees a blink in the dark which he believes is the thing he needs. Then is the turning point one, there is an inherent challenge which there is a monster warning him he will not get what he wanted. As he insists on going, the monster blessed him, and he goes to the third scene, the turning point two, which is an external obstacle, an ocean that is not able to across. Luckily, a giant is willing to help, so he finally gets to the light. But to save his sister, he must sacrifice himself.

Now, here is the climax. Why would one save the one he loves? For me, it’s because I wanna to stay with him/her. But sacrifice is such a subtle thing because you are still divided into two worlds though you successfully saved your beloved.

Thus the ending, the sister wakes up but the brother is no longer around, and the brother seems to achieve his goal, but he got trapped in this world and cannot meet his sister again.

The making

Once the storyboard is finished, we tested the sequence on the IAC screen, and we like it, including the rough 2D hand drawing style.

So we wanted to make it 2D, but the workload of a 2D animation is insane. So we decided to animated it in Cinema 4D but using the Cel and Toon shader to create a sense of 2D animation.

The film was animated in Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects, then edited and cut in Adobe Premiere.

We have never used C4D before. However I had some experience modeling with Maya, so I learned how to use C4D real quick.

I drawn, modeled and rigged the protagonist and his sister, and the water monster in the abyss, while Ivy and Carol made the scene of the ocean and their aesthetic is great, then we start to animate them together.

In the beginning we designed the two little creatures as cats, then we wanna them to be more like residents from another world, so we redesigned them. By the way the only difference between the brother and the sister is the hair bow.

The water bubble was inspired by a creature from this YouTube episode. But when we actually modeling it, our character is much more cute.

Time flies by, and suddenly it was the last week before the show. Our animation was far from finished, and we must start to compose the music.

We made a bold move that we cut the low-resolution sequences first and settle down the pace and rhythm of the story, and then our composer started to work on the music. And from this point, we can no longer change the story.

It works out pretty smooth, though we sure lost the change to final fine tune the editing.

Then we must face the last challenge, the render pressure since we need to render it in a super high resolution —— 10240 * 920.

We found a render farm and spend all the trial credits we can get and took advantage of the NYU public computers to make a team-render-raid to boost our rendering. Then by the noon of the very day of the show, we finally made it!

The show

Most of us only slept a few hours in the past two days. We were so exhausted while so excited for the show!

We 3D printed some souvenirs of our project, including erring and pins and 3d figures. Ivy even made a miniature of the second scene of our animation!
[ errings, 3d figures, miniature]

[giving the figure to MIMI]

[ documentation of the show]

We were afraid that we couldn’t tell the story clearly and the audience will get confused, but it turns out just fine.

Thanks to everybody in our team, and thanks to out teacher Mimi. This was an amazing journey of our little boy and also a great journey for us.

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