“The Holy Chicken of Life & Music”, a short film by NOMINT recently won the Community Choice Award in the Experimental Category of the Vimeo Awards.
Building on the tradition of Classic Greek literature, NOMINT takes us on a surreal journey that is both comedic and tragic. Their unique characters, architectural design, and compelling audio challenge the viewer to step outside the boundaries of conventional Motion Graphics. We meet a larger than life beast invested with the powers of Life and Music, yet subject to the whims of scientists and audiences that seem tiny in relation to the Holy Chicken. This piece explores the fine line between worship and exploitation through humor, surprise, and irony.
Creative Director Yannis Konstantinidis shares about the process after the jump.
What inspired the overall aesthetic and approach?
The process of the project was quite unorthodox to us, as we didn’t have a script or even a narrative to work with, like we are used to. Instead the project evolved through visual concepts. We first thought of a huge monster, then we thought that the monster could be some sort of multi-headed poultry. Then we said what if this monster lived inside a building and we could see through the building. This added a narrative quality to the project and many ideas (like the sentimental male head) started developing at that moment. Of course the above process wasn’t that straightforward and it took us more or less 3 months before anything really made any sense at all!!
Themes like science, scientific process, natural selection, evolution and creation, many times end up in some way or another in our projects. Both Christos and I who directed, as well as Marilena who was the assistant director on this project, have studied architecture which was an obvious influence. As far as architecture goes, it’s methodology is something that resonates with us in every project. It was therefore especially enjoyable that for this project we even got to do proper, detailed plans, sections and interiors and we got to see the finished “product” in a few months, rather than a few years! Another thing that influenced us was that during preproduction we were also working on the video projections for Handel’ s beautiful baroque opera “Theodora” for the Athens concert hall! This collaboration came in the right moment to put the operatic spin to the concept.
Although the spot is strangely surreal and magical, it also seems to speak of sadness and loneliness. Are their certain feelings you hope your audience will experience?
Early on in the process we created a mood animatic from various sketches, just to explore the mood we were going for. After that we knew that the project will be both surreal and comedic but also evoke some feeling of isolation. As the project progressed the character(s) of the Beast started becoming clearer and clearer. Their idiosyncrasies and the suggestive nature of the story leave lots of room for personal interpretation. Some people laugh when the chicken appears for the first time and some respond with a sweet/ sad “awww” when the male head cries in the night scene.
I think the story touches on themes that naturally allude to a second level of reading but when we were coming up with it, we never thought past the chicken that creates all life through music. When working on the project there weren’t any specific metaphors or symbolisms that we wanted to communicate. The story is after all a life account, by definition more complicated than a single message. It is bound to be saturated in metaphors, contradictions and a full spectrum of emotions. All these emerged naturally through the narrative and the characteristics of the Beast.
There are some really interesting techniques used in the spot such as a monumental sense of scale, where the Chicken seems bigger than life. Please tell us about the process of establishing the style / look of this piece?
As the project started from a strictly visual concept: A gigantic chicken monster standing next to a building full of people somewhere out there. Scale, light, level of detail were quite intrinsic to the idea. But as the narrative started evolving, things turned around and form started following function instead of the other way round. We spent many hours discussing how the eggs could get to the top floor to be hatched and then back down to be painted. Most of this thought process might not be very apparent to the final result but actually helped a lot with the development of the narrative.
What software did you use in the production of this spot?
The building was fully designed in autocad and we had visual references for the look and feel of each room to the wallpaper and fixings! After that the actual production of the project was pretty straightforward and we didnt encounter any serious hiccups. The 3D modeling and rendering was done in 3D studio Max and the compositing in AE.
Which was your personal favorite phase of production/ scene to work on?
This was one of these projects that changed significantly from the first idea to the moment we went into production. It was not only an exercise in style but also an experiment of a more haphazard way of writing and authoring. The pre-production stage lasted roughly 3 months in which time we changed the design, style and narrative several times. We went back and forth several times and it sometimes felt that the story is getting absolutely nowhere. There was one particular ‘eureka’ moment when all our ideas just came and it was this great feeling of cracking the code.
Can you describe the culture / work environment of your studio?
Within the last couple of years our studio rapidly grew into a very closely knit team of 9. We do commercial projects and we also indulge in more personal work where quite often the whole team participates in every step of the concept and production stages. Its definitely a team work culture with lots of discussions and communal idea generation. The core of our creative work is the directing team and the design team that influence one another. Next to the creative department is our lovely production team that makes sure we have everything we need to realize the vision: resources, collaborators, time etc.
Direction/ Design/ Animation:
Christos Lefakis, Yannis Konstantinidis
Christos Lefakis, Yannis Konstantinidis Director’ s Assistant: Marilena Vatseri
Christos Lefakis, Yannis Konstantinidis, Georgios Xanthos, Marilena Vatseri, Manolis Mavris, Andreas Helmis, Manos Gerogiannis
Andreas Helmis, Konstantinos Diamantis, Konstantinos Petrou
Yannis Konstantinidis, Christos Lefakis, Marilena Vatseri