Flight of Fancy

The daz­zling, Cg-an­i­mated short Space­bound launches School of Vis­ual Arts grad­u­ates’ ca­reers. by Ellen Wolff

Animation Magazine - - Content -

The daz­zling, CG-an­i­mated short Space­bound launches School of Vis­ual Arts grad­u­ates’ ca­reers. by Ellen Wolff

Life and death in outer space pro­pels the megahit Grav­ity, but that’s not the only re­cent film to tackle this theme. A CG-an­i­mated gem called Space­bound also uses a lost-in-space premise that leaves view­ers pondering the ques­tion of how to sa­vor life right up to its end. Space­bound de­picts a boy and his dog romp­ing through a daz­zling galaxy— even as their oxy­gen sup­plies run out.

The two-and-ahalf-minute piece of pure an­i­ma­tion was cre­ated by Kyle Moy and Ellen Su as a the­sis film for their Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts de­grees from New York’s School of Vis­ual Arts (SVA). But the film, which was cho­sen as a Vimeo Staff Pick, went vi­ral and has sparked emo­tional re­ac­tions from view­ers. As SVA teacher Joe Bur­ras­cano ob­serves, “It taps into a much deeper level. The boy is sad but the dog is not, and the dog shows him that no mat­ter what their cir­cum­stances are, they can en­joy them­selves. The boy has trou­ble with that at first, but by the end of the piece he trans­forms and em­braces that fi­nal mo­ment. That tran­si­tion is some­thing any­one can un­der­stand.”

Moy and Su first pitched the idea for Space­bound to the SVA fac­ulty by pre­sent­ing a pro­duc­tion book of Su’s con­cept art and a three-minute pre­viz an­i­mated by Moy, who used down­load­able Maya rigs from CreativeCrash. com. “It was a very rough pre­viz,” Moy re­calls. “A lot of the ideas in it were cut af­ter­wards, but it got our point across. We fig­ured we’d worry about the de­tails later on!”

“The ba­sic story was ham­mered down from day one,” notes SVA teacher Seth Gol­lub, Moy’s the­sis ad­vi­sor. “What we did play around with was how to cre­ate the best com­po­si­tion in each shot to sell the emo­tional con­nec­tion be­tween the char­ac­ters. Since there was no di­a­logue, it re­lied wholly on body lan­guage and ex­pres­sion.”

It was by no means cer­tain that SVA would per­mit a col­lab­o­ra­tive the­sis, and Su notes, “If two peo­ple pitch­ing to­gether have the same skills, it won’t be ap­proved. Kyle is mostly an an­i­ma­tor, and I’m mostly not an an­i­ma­tor, so our skills worked out.”

As Su’s the­sis ad­vi­sor Joe Bur­ras­cano re­marks, “Ellen is great at paint­ing and de­sign­ing, and the film stayed true to her con­cept art. Kyle is great at cre­at­ing the il­lu­sion of life and un­der­stand­ing per­for­mance and tim­ing. She might have a clear idea of how some­thing would work ar­tis­ti­cally, while he’d have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent take be­cause he was com­ing from the an­gle of an­i­ma­tion.

They weren’t al­ways in agree­ment, and some­times I felt like their mar­riage coun­selor! But the chem­istry that came out of that made the piece so strong.”

Gol­lub agrees, not­ing, “We try to pre­pare stu­dents for when they’ll be hired to be pro­fes­sional artists, and they will be ex­pected to de­fend their opin­ions and ac­cept crit­i­cism.” (Both Gol­lub and Bur­ras­cano are grad­u­ates of SVA, and cur­rently work at the N.Y.C. an­i­ma­tion shops of Frame­store and Nathan Love.)

Space­bound was an­i­mated in Maya and its tex­tures were painted with Pho­to­shop and Mud­box. The shots were laid out in Af­ter Ef­fects, and the piece was ren­dered in V-Ray, which was a first for Su. While she ad­mits be­ing in­tim­i­dated by us­ing a new ren­derer, her ad­vi­sor Bur­ras­cano says, “Some of her class­mates un­der­stood the ben­e­fits of V-Ray and could help her. She was flex­i­ble enough to em­brace new tech­nol­ogy and not be afraid to evolve.”

Su and Moy were also un­afraid to put their ideas online when they sought a sound­track com­poser. They posted an ad on Mandy. com, ex­plains Su. “We said, ‘Stu­dent project.

“What we did play around with was how to cre­ate the best com­po­si­tion in each shot to sell the emo­tional con­nec­tion be­tween the char­ac­ters. Since there was no di­a­logue, it re­lied wholly on body lan­guage and

ex­pres­sion.”

Very low bud­get.’” And they found Swedish com­poser Jo­han Eric­s­son Degerlund. “This was the first piece of an­i­ma­tion he ever scored,” says Moy. “But he hit the emo­tional notes per­fectly.” Degerlund now is of­fer­ing his Space­bound sound­track for sale on the web­site Band­camp.com.

The pro­duc­tion came right down to the wire, ad­mits Moy. “It was like those cook­ing shows were you take ev­ery sin­gle sec­ond to fin­ish.” But when Space­bound screened in

— SVA teacher Seth Gol­lub

front of a jury of in­dus­try pros and a pub­lic au­di­ence, it earned high marks from the judges and was voted the au­di­ence’s fa­vorite. Space­bound was sub­se­quently ac­cepted for SIGGRAPH Asia and sev­eral other film fes­ti­vals.

Mean­while, Su and Moy have be­gun their ca­reers as free­lancers on the N.Y.C. pro­duc­tion scene. Moy has an­i­mated com­mer­cials at Nathan Love, while Su has done projects at R/GA and The Mill. There’s lit­tle doubt that Space­bound (which has its own Tum­blr site) will con­tinue to spark emo­tional re­ac­tions. Su re­marks, “It’s great read­ing peo­ple’s com­ments online, where some say: ‘That light at the end isn’t the sun—it’s the light of a space­ship com­ing to res­cue them!’ Every­body has their own view of what hap­pens.”

“That’s the best art, when a piece leaves things open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion,” be­lieves Bur­ras­cano. “I knew it was good when I cried at the end.” Ellen Wolff is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist who spe­cial­izes in vis­ual ef­fects, an­i­ma­tion and ed­u­ca­tion.

A Team­work Tri­umph: School of Vis­ual Arts stu­dents Kyle Moy and Ellen Su first pitched the idea for Space­bound us­ing a pro­duc­tion book of Su’s con­cept art and a three-minute pre­viz an­i­mated by Moy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.