The Illusion of Life!
This is where it’s at. When I started this project, I knew that simple tricks in AFter Effects or limited flash animation wasn’t going to do the trick. Why, because animation defined is the “illusion of life”. If the movement doesn’t help the viewer to believe that this character or object has life, then by definition, it’s not animation. That is the distinction between motion graphics and animation. Animation is hard to accomplish. It takes ten times the hours invested if you want to successfully convince your audience that there is a conscience behind your pencil lines or your mouse clicks. It would have been really easy to make simple animatic-style motion graphics and the app would have been completed months ago and I’d still have money in my pocket and some meat on my bones. But I couldn’t let this story go without giving it my best shot to convince all the readers of the depth of the characters and the story. Yeah, it’s not perfect, I know, I see every flaw, but it’s what I have left.
Initially, I was only going to animate rough character animation only that supported the emotions of the characters. But then, after one great inescapable idea to another, every tool at my side was utilized. I don’t proclaim to be a 3d guy, but when the idea came to introduce the heightened anxiety of the baseball game threw a couple of slacker news camera operators, I knew I was headed down 3d row. But trying to stick to my principles of animation, I tried to make that car have a personality, a life, a conscience. Eric Allen rigged up a very sophisticated car rig for me and after the first animation I had successfully broken every constraint and completely disconnected the wheels and axels at times – all in the name of personality! Maybe it works for you, maybe not, but I still get a kick out of that car when it awkwardly comes to a referent crawl before the great statues. (ala Neverending Story story-sphynx gate) Speaking of memorable film moments, see if you recognize the John Hughes reference in the opening animation.