I was interviewed by Animation Mentor to discuss This is a Ball andmy passion behind creating the film. It was a real honor to be included on their blog. Read it on their site or below.
This month’s Where are they now? series features Jeff Starr, a 2010 graduate of Animation Mentor. Since graduating from Animation Mentor, Jeff’s been a part of a couple cool projects, one being his first short film – what an accomplishment.
Short films are known for their meaningful stories bound with compelling themes. Read along as Jeff takes us through a personal experience where he sheds light on a powerful topic that’s relevant in today’s society all over the world. Allow his story to inspire you in more meaningful ways in both life and when you animate
– The Animation Mentor Crew
ANIMATION MENTOR: The message of the film is so inspiring and opens up a dialogue about bullying. What inspired you to make this short film?
One of the questions I get asked from time to time is, “If the ball is called a ball and not a circle, why isn’t the square referred to as a cube and the triangle a pyramid?”
The idea is that the Ball is the only character with depth to his personality. The bullies are just one dimensional, hence the flat geometric terms. The only hint of the bullies having any “depth” to their soul is in the shot after the credits when the square tries to literally move forward in it’s life. In many way’s that could be the start to the next film.
Plus, I just liked the idea of calling the bully a “square” because of the slang aspect. That way when the Ball tells them off at the end and say’s, “I’d like to see you bounce, you square” it has a secondary meaning.
One element I have been most proud of is the soundtrack to the movie. I was inspired by a song I wrote with my great friend Ryan Fitzsimmons. I took the framework we had created and ran with it.
It also holds special meaning for me. Ryan had just left NYC to move to LA, so this gave me a great way to honor that friendship. Best of all, it fit the movie perfectly – even the title I Really Like Your Style – was a serendipitous element, especially once you know the message behind the movie. Because I knew that Ryan would be listening to the final audio with extra insight, I had to ensure that the final composition would meet the high standard he deserved. That kept me on my toes and made sure I asked myself tough questions along the way.
…Plus, I was able to work in a few tiny musical jokes that only he will get. I hope that those “inside jokes” give it an extra spark of life that others will feel, even without knowing the reference.
I am making my final pass to adjust the movie’s sound effects and I plan to release the completed film in Jan 2016. The abstract images in this video relate to the final movie.
A short time-lapse video of me working to resolve some rendering issues in Maya.
Four shots in the movie had a problem where random dark spots would appear on the geometry. I worked for a long time to try and figure out the cause. Eventually I had to resort to manually retouching over 100 frames in Photoshop.
At the end of the first shot I wanted the ball to exit on the right side of the screen. This caused more headaches than it should have.
In film theory the right side of the screen is often viewed (or felt by the audience) as being the open and unknown side of the screen due to our western method of reading from left to right. In the history of western cinema characters often leave “home” by traveling in this direction. When they return they often travel to the left side. (In Asian cinema this screen is often reversed.)
2001: A Space Odyssey has many great examples of this, specifically when Bowman leaves the spaceship to collect his fallen cremate Dr. Poole.
Well, now my problem… While my first render follows the color scheme I had developed it felt dark and the background distracting. While I really liked how some of this looks it wasn’t working for me overall. Was I wrong? Share a comment and let me know.
Because we are conditioned to expect north to be on top I had placed the sun to the right, or the east.
As we know from my last post, I wanted the sun to rise and set during the duration of the film. Since I had decided to have the ball travel screen right during the film this would mean that instead of walking off into the sunset in my last shot, the sun would be shining on his back. This doesn’t have the same romantic look. Trust me. I tried it.
The original placement of the sun on top. Final shot on the bottom.
After I revised the colors, I moved the sun to the left side of the screen.
Flipped 180 degrees, the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Since this is the first shot I wanted to make it clear that this was a sunrise, not a sunset. To communicate this, I made the colors cooler. I also backlit the ball because if you live north of the equator the sun travels along a southerly path. So, I guess the movie takes place in the northern hemisphere! This also helped to make the opening colder and less emotional. Hopefully this will contrast the warm romantic sunset that concludes the film.