MAKE: PSISF Opener “Palm Springs”

Several days ago, we received the latest from MAKE: a knock down, drag out homage to film noir style crime dramas of old Hollywood, called Palm Springs. The piece was created for the Palm Springs International ShortFest, which runs from June 22nd – June 28th. Rather than opining on the merits of the work, we asked MAKE’s Director and Lead Animator for the opener, Andrew Chesworth, to summarize how the team of artists executed the piece, in detail:

Palm Springs was created using primarily traditional animation drawn directly into Photoshop with Wacom Cintiq tablets.  The idea was to achieve the aesthetic of classical animation but to do it in a completely paperless fashion.   The creative workflow was near identical to that of traditional analog animation – starting with rough layouts buried in construction lines, and gradually working toward more finished scenes through a layering process of drawing.   In several scenes, assistants in-betweened and touched up the drawings of key animators, and finished animation was passed on to the colorists who painted each frame of animation with the dry-brush styling.

3D animation was employed for a handful of inorganic subjects, such as the vehicles in the car chase, the ceiling fan in the office, and the movie projector.  The modeling, animation, and rendering was all done in Maya.  Mental Ray’s contour shader was employed to achieve the outlines on the objects, and the models were built very specifically to accommodate the line work to match the drawn designs.  Hard shadow render passes, animated texture overlays, and a great deal of rotoscoped hand-drawn effects were composited onto the 3D elements to mesh them within the hand-drawn world as much as possible.

Compositing was all done in After Effects, where additional treatments were placed over the drawn elements to achieve a more analog aesthetic.  Subtle texture overlays, diffusion filters, and in many cases film grain and noise were added to conform the elements.”

For more, check out the Q&A and behind-the-scenes artwork that went into creating the opener here.