Find out how these wonderful CG shorts helped to shape future productions as we take a closer look at Neill Blomkamp’s Tetra Vaal and Japanese anime Voices of a Distant Star, by Makoto Shinkai…
We’ve got two of our favourite animations ever to share with you today as part of our Indie Film Week.
First up there’s Makoto Shinkai’s Voices of a Distant Star, which was created on so thin a shoestring that Shinkai and his girlfriend originally provided the voiceover work themselves!
Voices of a Distant Star (2003)
>It’s not the story at the heart of Voices of a Distant Star that sets it apart. The tale of boy and girl exchanging love letters against a backdrop of interstellar war is typically romantic anime fare.
Nor is the quality of the animation particularly noteworthy. Instead, it’s the fact that every single frame of this 30-minute short was created solely by ex-video game animator Makoto Shinkai.
A mix of 2D and 3D pieced together on his Apple Mac, it was crafted with so little money that Shinkai and his girlfriend originally provided the voiceover work themselves. Those who believe the 10-year gestation period of Steamboy (2004) to be typical, take note.
WITHOUT IT … Countless animators wouldn’t have been inspired over the last few years to start up their own solo and team-based indie animation projects.
For Voices of a Distant Star Makoto Shinkai seamlessly stitched 3D and 2D elements together using the power of his Apple Mac
Next, we’ve a real treat in store: You’ve probably heard of District 9, and Neill Blomkamp, but you might not know about the short that inspired it: Tetra Vaal.
Tetra Vaal (2003)
>It would take a slide rule to calculate the number of ways in which this audacious short has inspired the CG community.
A personal project put together by The Embassy Visual Effects Inc’s co-founder and music video director, Neill Blomkamp, Tetra Vaal draws on its creator’s South African heritage to portray an uneasy vision of townships patrolled by a robotic law enforcer.
You may have heard of District 9 - well, Tetra Vaal was the short that inspired the full-length feature film
Seamlessly blending its CG protagonist with grainy handheld footage, the result is as photoreal as any multi-million dollar effects work, the subtle character animation adding further resonance by cleverly tapping into familiar soldier and police force poses and behaviours.
Other VFX-enhanced shorts have explored serious topics, but the quality of Tetra Vaal’s CG and its flawless documentary/reportage directorial style carried a visual and emotional resonance quite unlike anything previously seen.
A series of ads from The Embassy have since built on the techniques and themes pioneered here, and away from The Embassy, Blomkamp has founded new studio, Ratel, and continues to refine CG techniques and directorial skills, most recently with the poignant Alive in Joburg, and Tempbot – a light-hearted short film starring Lynda ‘Wonder Woman’ Carter alongside the original Tetra Vaal droid. Who could have guessed that the menacing metallic law keeper had such range?
WITHOUT IT … There would be no Citröen dancing car ad. The short established a style that undoubtedly prompted prestigious clients to beat a path to The Embassy’s door. Voted best ad of 2005 in a UK survey, the Citröen spot itself inspired a slew of spoofs.
FIND IT … Watch it via YouTube below:
Like robots? Fancy creating one like a Transformer? Have a go with our free online tutorial