Brazilian graphic novel artist and writer Rafael Gramp√° (“Mesmo Delivery”) turned his powers to the small screen for the first time in “Dark Noir.” The animated short was his directorial debut, a commissioned work for Absolut’s “Transform Today” campaign.
The project was billed as a “co-creation” between Gramp√° and Absolut’s Facebook fans, who supplied concepts and drawings via Absolut’s Facebook presence.
But when it came to producing the actual animation, Gramp√° partnered with Red Knuckles, formerly of Passion Pictures, where they had worked heavily with director Pete Candeland.
Rick Thiele and Mario Ucci, co-founders of Red Knuckles and co-creative directors on “Dark Noir” shared some process behind “Dark Noir” with us.
Q&A with Red Knuckles
How did you guys get involved in this project?
Sid Lee approached us about “Dark Noir” in late November 2013 with the intention of making a live action short film with animated characters.
Their main reference was a project we art directed while still at Passion, Gorillaz “Stylo”, in which we turned Jamie Hewlett‚Äôs famous 2D characters into 3D animation and integrated them against live action plates.
We eventually managed to convince everyone that doing it fully animated was a good idea.
Did Red Knuckles do all of the CG animation? What about the 2D animation?
Yes. Both 3D and 2D. The main reason Red Knuckles exists is to allow us to work with the artists we admire and a lot of those artists happen to be 2D animators.
So when this project came along, we immediately pitched to Rafael the idea of having a mix of 2D and 3D animation, and he said yes straight away. So then we went after those incredible dudes — 2D and 3D — and they were all up for it, too.
Describe the process of working with Rafael Gramp√°. How did you work together?
Well, the fact that we are all Brazilians helped a lot. We had pretty much the same imagination, and Rafael is one of the most incredible artists we know (we were fans of him from way before). The visual communication flowed seamlessly.
He would explain the sequences he had in mind by drawing them, and to us, this is the best way to communicate.
Absolut understood Rafael‚Äôs persona very well and just let him do what he wanted to do without any interventions. With that, we were blessed with an entire studio of artists creating and making decisions 24/7. That is not something that happens often.
The film has a rich look inspired by film noir. Can you tell us a little about the look development process?
The mood of the film was in there since the first revision of the script. It was impossible for us to imagine the film any other way, so we gathered all the references that came to mind into a mood panel. This panel included “Blade Runner,” “In the Mood for Love,” anything by Christopher Doyle.
We wanted to have eveyone coming in and out of light all the time, engulfed in shadows one second and then showered by light in the next. And if the characters didn’t move on the shot, then we would create mechanisms to make the lights move instead, revealing and hiding.
What consolidated the noir look was the combination of the script with the images.
The official making of video (below) says that Facebook fans had input. What was that like?
This crowdsourcing of ideas was a big thing for Absolut, so we knew that it had to be very well planned out in order to make it work with the schedule.
More making of details after the jump →