MAKE created this wildly ambitious and entertaining opening sequence for the Minneapolis AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers). The project debuted on September 6, 2007, and was created in its entirety in about two months.
What’s particularly amazing about this project is that MAKE was able to sustain a narrative for the entire five minutes. Actually, it’s more like several mini-narratives wrapped up in one larger narrative. The team obviously spent as much time concepting and writing as they did on the execution.
I also really enjoy the way that sponsors are displayed. Because they consistently appear as tickets, we come to expect them throughout the piece, a strategy that I think works well. They aren’t too obtrusive, but they’re still highly visible.
We got a little inside info on the project from Andrew Chesworth and our very own Babe Elliott Baker.
The character designs in AICP were my main focus regarding the graphic element, and beyond that it only extended as far as that I knew I wanted the look to feel old, with a lot of sepia tone and texture. Babe created the style frames with my characters and the textures I’d created for them, and he went ahead and came up with a phenomenal layered background style that combined graphic simplicity with elaborate texture and richness. The characters seemed to feel right at home.
Because of the short deadline, we knew the characters had to be graphic and (fairly) quick to animate, but I knew from the getgo I didn’t want it to feel like simply “cutout” animation. I wanted as much as possible for the characters to have the life, fluidity, and bounciness of quality hand-drawn and 3D animation.
The characters are indeed vector-flat, but they are 2D NURBs surfaces created in Maya and rigged with the standard 3D tools, so they can often bend and deform in ways cutout animation never could. Some characters, like the train, required some dimensionality to work for all of the shots, and are essentially half-3D, and can stand up to about 30 degrees of rotation.
As Andrew and the rest of the team were modeling, rigging and busy animating characters. I was painting backgrounds and building the 2.5D space. Roughing in camera and timing and using placeholders where the actors would act. Everytime a character was finished it was then rendered out of Maya as a high-res PNG sequence to keep things light in the after effects compositing stage.
Director, Lead Animator, Lead Character Designer, Lead Storyboard Artist, Character Modeler/Rigger
Lead Designer, Lead 2.5D Compositor, Background Artist
Babe Elliott Baker
Concept Artist, Background Modeler, Character Animator
Background Modeler, 3D Effects Animator
Producer, Editor, Compositor, Modeler
Steve Horner (Horner Music)
Chase Brandau (Brand Audio)