File Not Found trailer is up on vimeo!

room scene 5 hrFile Not Found trailer is up on vimeo!


space age

“no matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been…we’re living in the space age”

whether the inevitability of this statement is true or not, the sentiment is sufficiently pervasive it is worth some examination. what is meant by the space age? it encompasses this projection of the technological achievements of man out into what was the purview of the deities. and with technology come projections not only spatially but projections forward in time. this concept of technology out in space and forward in time holds the promise of a broken world that will soon be “fixed” by man’s ingenuity. … tele-communication, extraction of mineral resources,  maximized production of consumer goods. the Futurist is nearby cheering on: faster, stronger, more. And in this digital age: instant, indestructible, infinite.

the space age indicates a global worldview from which there is increasingly no refuge for the community that wishes to keep the progressivist myth at arm’s length. these usually indigenous communities wish to continue living more directly from the earth, obtaining and distributing resources outside the channels of the governing powers of the western world. indigenous communities have had (and in limited ways continue to cultivate) an intimate and spiritual relationship with the past and the present right here on earth, rather than the tomorrowland technology of a “future out there”.

in many ways the duplicity of this technology concept is appealing in order to maintain the status quo. like religion, technology presents a happy, hopeful picture that is on the brink of attainment-full of promise and redemption. on the other hand, we can never quite keep up with the constant flow of consumer technologies, and in order to participate in this promised land, must keep earning and spending currency. the utopia remains tantalizingly out of reach. similar in function to religion, this love affair with technology as the defining concept for identity will drive behavior,  limit access to information, affect the psychic and spiritual conceptions of self, and in most areas of life subject the greater portion to the lesser few.

“no matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been…we’re living in the space age”

it would seem this is more of a warning and a lament. there is nowhere else to hide, for these ideas and strategies for managing societies, these duplicitious conceptions of technology that leak into the popular consciousness are but another manifestation of the progressivist, the colonialist, the conqueror. like the dedicated missionaries of christendom past, this utopian ideal campaigns around the world, winning the hearts and minds of cultures in all continents. and lurking within its shadows are threats of war, nuclear weaponry, militarization of societies, normalization of surveillance, greater disparity as wealth translates to access (education, food, water, natural space). by hook or by crook, we’re living in the space age.

when i stumbled on this video i was a little bit closer to consciously clarifying to myself what has been an intuitive connection between a variety of influences on the MX-93 film. it is trying to subvert and re-imagine this futurist utopia. furthermore, the religious-like mentality of the participants of Sun Ra’s world follow a kind of egyptian occultism. the power of technology to propel objects through space transforms into the power of the spiritual self to propel consciousness through space. projections “out there” not only move through our reality, but also the further “out there” we go in this film, the more mystical and surreal it becomes.


Nightmare Scene Transition rough layout

These transitions are a brain twister in terms of AE workflow. I want to avoid a very long composition with the transition scene and the two other scenes that bookend it. I’ve uploaded a draft quality version of this pass. Images are from NASA site; robot animated with Dragon; composite and effects in After Effects.

This approach is a modification from the original spiral idea that I had planned. I was hoping for a nuanced indication of both interior and downward movement (into hell) but really I will be happy if the idea of any kind of transformation comes across. One of the feedback points I received recently is that it’s unclear why the stylistic change occurs at this point. I think this transition will help to clear that up. Also I should add that the other half of this transition is not posted – he opens his eyes within the new environment.

Beach Scene blocking

Last time I posted pictures of this set it looked like this. Beach scene blocking: the reverse close-ups are not included (they’ll be shot with a long lens on a green screen background). Many thanks to Lior Chefetz for his DP help in going through each setup. The final image is the lighting design.

Beach Set Pictures

At this point it doesn’t look like much of a beach, but that’s what I’m going to keep calling it for consistency’s sake. I’m pretty happy with the giant circuit board appearance, and probably could have spent a  lot more time creating more circuit boards with more dense detail (it’s really fun), but  I had to put on my producer hat and move forward with lighting and blocking. My main challenge right now is to decide to lift the stage up to create a space for tie-downs underneath, or to go with my original shortcut of just pushing the tie downs into the foam floor. I am anxious to finish all the robot’s animation in the next month and have the holiday break to work on rig removal and digital effects.

The following pictures are not the final lighting at all, just photos of the set as it looks now:

November Progress

So far all of the room has been shot, and although I won’t post the final cut online, I have the first 1:12 of animation shot and (roughly) edited together. There is some post work necessary like rig removal, color timing, and most important, the graphics for the screen. There is also a 2D water effect that needs to be animated for this scene.

I’m currently building the Beach stage, which has since transformed to a landscape made of giant circuit boards. I realized that I was missing an opportunity to play with the robotics theme, and took inspiration from the pile of circuit boards I’ve been hoarding. The shots will probably be adjusted based on the limitations of the set, but my focus will be to show that he is transitioning from the internal psychic journey back to the external material world. The same concept of a standalone doorway remains the same.

Also, I have the cutout Bird Skeleton puppet built. I cut out the pieces myself and attached them together with string and Zap glue. I’m really happy with the way it looks (pictures forthcoming) and can’t wait to test it out – right after I finish up the Beach scene. Even though the great Yuri Norstein does cutouts with totally loose pieces, I know it would have driven me crazy, especially since the bird has about a dozen vertebrates along his neck to keep track of.

This Thanksgiving week I hope to finalize all construction of the set and light the first shot (and dare I hope to animate the first shot!). I am also aiming to go out and get some hi-res footage of those oil derricks off of La Brea.