Ash Thorp shares process behind “NONE,” his latest personal project

Set in a futuristic metropolis mysteriously devoid of humans, “NONE” is a quiet study in world-building. Though minimal in its palette, each vignette is rich with the interplay of light and shadow.

We asked the film’s co-creator, Ash Thorp, to tell us more about the process behind the project — and where he finds the time to take on such projects amidst his busy schedule.

Q&A with Ash Thorp, co-creator of “NONE”

Where did the idea for “NONE” come from?

Chris Bjerre and I had just finished working together on an upcoming feature film project, and I had miraculously managed to squeeze in a small break between client assignments. So we felt that this open window would be a perfect opportunity to make something fun together.

Still from "NONE"

Since I had recently been exploring some material shaders and fog emulators in Octane (the render engine that I use with Cinema4D), I proposed we play in this world a bit and create a special little short film.

We wanted to push ourselves creatively and agreed to strive to complete a three-minute animation video in a maximum time of three weeks. We quickly dove into pulling ideas and shots together, and then the sequences began to quickly take shape.

Still from "NONE"

Why do you take on personal projects?

I firmly believe that passion projects are a huge part of creative growth, and “NONE” was a very personal exercise in artistic expression. It allowed me the opportunity to experiment with new techniques, sharpen my visual eye, and further strengthen the abilities of my craft.

How did you and Chris collaborate on this?

Chris and I agreed to keep the team incredibly small in order to really test our personal abilities and further our creative partnership. Therefore, for the first week or so, it was really just the two of us working on “NONE.” We get along really well together as we both work extremely hard and love to create and express ourselves through various mediums.

Cinema4D screenshot

It wasn’t until the last half of the project that I brought on my friend Alex Figini, who is an amazingly talented Zbrush character artist and instructor at Learn Squared.

Speaking of Learn Squared, how is that going?

Learn Squared is amazing and growing so fast. We sincerely appreciate all the wonderful teachers and students who have helped contribute thus far to our success. We developed Learn Squared in order to offer an elevated and unique way of thinking and learning for every creative. Whether you are new or a veteran in the industry, it doesn’t matter as Learn Squared teaches across levels.

There are still many more amazing things on the horizon, including the announcement of some additional big name instructors very soon, so be sure to keep a lookout on our site.

What have you learned from Learn Squared?

Managing a massive online platform has been full of learning curves and understanding how to best utilize time and efforts, and I feel that all these lessons learned are then carried over into strengthening all my other work, especially directing.

It seems like you’ve got a lot going on in your life. Are you keeping it all balanced? 

I love to live a full life, as I want to have no regrets in my old age. I want to look back on my life and have pride on my efforts.

I honestly don’t think there can ever be true balance for anyone, as different aspects of life will demand various amounts of time at different points, but I like to think that I do a pretty good job of juggling them all without letting anything hit the ground.

Making it rain

I wear so many hats that range from running my freelance firm (ALT Creative) with my wife Monica; co-directing Lost Boy; co-managing Learn Squared while also teaching courses and participating as an apprentice as well; hosting the Collective Podcast; working on passion projects such as “NONE” — and all while simultaneously keeping my client work at top quality.

There is never a dull moment in my life, and each day brings new challenges and tasks that I would have never seen without taking it all on my plate.

Any tips for others?

I think the greatest advice I can give (if at all) is to just really devote your time to whatever it is that you love to do in life, as that is the fuel that will keep you going.

It is very important to understand the power of time because that understanding is what will impact how well your life can be lived. We all share the same currency in life, and that currency is time. How you manage time will define your own personal success in life.

You’ve managed to bridge the commercial and entertainment industries, something that many motion designers have not been able to do. How did you do it?

We all share the same currency in life, and that currency is time.

I make a conscious and direct decision to select projects that can maximize my growth or will potentially help get more work in an area that appeals to me. It can certainly be tempting to do jobs for money alone, and I admit that I have done so a few times in my career, but it usually instantly results in regret.

At the end of the day, doing work without true passion will leave you dry and empty, so I try to keep focused on making choices that will steer my path in the direction I ultimately want it to go.

Do you think we’ll see more motion design work in the entertainment industry?

I think we will continue to see great motion design work and the fusion of interests and curiosities will blend industries together. I don’t like to put many labels on things or set limitations on my work or career path. I think great work will always be great work regardless.

It is our task as creatives to break barriers by staying innovative and curious.