Charlex: Shape Shifter

Charlex has recently created Shape Shifter, a larger-than-life film that’s been attracting remarkable attention online since its release. From the pieces of an exploded car, a constantly-transforming creature is born, while a fantastic environment unfolds under its feet. It’s a piece full of fluid transitions and finely-tuned visuals, directed by Alex Weil, who kindly shared some insights with Motionographer (full interview here).

“Because it begins with a series of shots of a car at night, the piece is clearly set up like a car commercial, but the film itself breaks down in a stream of conscious fashion and turns into a dream where it becomes unclear what is subject and what is object. As if in a dream, scenarios change suddenly and fluidly; the setting and characters go back and forth between a state of order and one of chaos.”

Visually, it is flawless, with its outstanding transformations and realistic organic animations. Then, there’s the whispered narration by Gabriel Byrne and subtle sound design that combine for the dreamy effect. However, what makes Shape Shifter even more solid is it’s core idea, as explains Diana Park, designer and co-director of the film:

“My initial concept was based around the idea of genesis — the birth and evolution of life. I also wanted to play with the idea of reversing the role of the machine as a creator rather than creation. These concepts led to my first draft and treatment involving a car driving in middle of the night which then enters into a dream like state. As the real world fades away and reality shifts, the car fragments into meteors that take us into a new world where nothing exists. As the meteorites land they trigger life and create a multitude of fauna and flora. The world begins to form and we follow the story of predator and prey in a heated chase that then shifts from land to sea as we watch a school of fish continue the journey. The story then culminates in a fantastic leap through the surface as the creatures transform into flight and take us off into the sunset of a new world.”

The directors stressed that during the completion of the film a lot of space was given for creative input from the whole team (up to 15 artists), in an example of “an extremely collaborative effort”, as Alex says. “The project was a work of love from everyone”, adds Diana. The result can be seen in every frame.

Full interview with Alex Weil and list of Credits


About the author

Daniel Coutinho

Daniel lives in Los Angeles, CA, with his wife. Originally from Brazil, he is currently at Buck.



Top notch, wonder how much time was devoted to this piece. Great visuals and mood. Congrats team charlex!


This piece is absolutely phenomenal. I saw this about a week ago i think and i watched it somewhere around 5 times before finally just going “Wow!” Congrats Charlex!


Nice job guys. this looks really nice! Especially the transformations. (ex-fish to bird). The last shot is so typical though. The camera angle. The bg. The car.


Love this piece in everyway. Great job guys.


Looks nice but that voiceover was painfully silly. And are you really going to call this a “film”? It’s a spec car commercial ffs!


Great transitions and animation throughout. Awesome work.

-But unfortunately the compositing doesn’t do it for me. Too much glow on everything and overall it seems too soft. Also the very high contrast and too shallow depth of field seems to eat away all the details in the picture and give many shots a cheap look.
The last shot with mountains and sunset is just too tacky and cheap looking, I would take it out along with the VO.


Amazing work guys. I love the breaking glass off the car in the beginning. AND THE GLOWING STUFF!! Ha, really great job.


If you didn’t give this piece 5 STARS! Then your bar is set to high! Because this is perfect in ever way.


the panther seems very familiar to me…

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