Treat Studios directors Daniel Boyle and Alex Robinson are fascinated with the idea of taking their work outside of the computer and working in ways that leaves the viewer unsure of how it was created. This short experimental piece of animation was was created using several processes, all of which began life inside the computer.
With the help of simple laser cutting, an iPad, a homemade motion rig and DSLR Boyle and Robinson created a stop-frame animation using long exposure photography to bring all these processes together.
The film began life as simple animation of a whale swimming. Each frame of the animation was then saved as an individual CGI file. This file was then turned into a movie, whereby the form and position of the whale was recorded, “CAT scan style” from head to tail.
These movies were then played on an iPad which was attached to the motion rig. As the movies played out, the iPad would steadily move along the track, re-drawing the shape of the 3D whale in real space. This process was captured using the DSLR camera via long exposures, the camera would record the light from each movie, as the iPad moved from A to B on the motion rig, turning the movie on the iPad into a single photograph on the camera.
The secondary process was creating the environment for the whale to exist in – our “looping seabed’’. This was designed in the computer as a tiling CGI model, which was then divided into 2mm thick slices and laser cut from MDF wood. The slices stack back together in real life creating an infinitely looping seabed for the whale to swim over. So, combining the movies on the moving iPad with moving one slice of the seabed, the camera would capture the animation one frame at a time. This laborious process was repeated many, many, many, times over, resulting in a beautiful holographic image created with the light trail left behind by the iPad.