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Pause

Pause is a film about a journey searching for a way to pause everything, and designed and directed by Anna Yang. My roles in this project were a Technical Director and Animator responsible for bringing the most complex shots for the film to life by coming up with unique solutions of combining 2D and 3D methods. 

Tools and Software used: After Effects, Cinema 4D

Design

Styleframes

Designed by Anna Yang, her vision stemmed from her sentiments on growing up and the overwhelming pace of life:

I was eager to grow when I was little. Everything felt slow, even time. But as I grew older, time didn't walk, it ran. Everything felt so fast and there is always the moment which I just want to pause everything. The grown up world is so different than what I expected, yet I tried to search for a way, struggled and perplexed. The answer is neither. What if the thing I need is not a pause, never a pause…then what is it?

Anna Yang

Production Shot list

Organization is a key component of creativity!

Animation

Invisible glass cube

For the invisible 3D cube shot, it was done completely in After Effects using layers composited in 3D space.

  • The cube was made by aligning 4 solid layers together and adding a Stroke effect. These strokes are then animated individually to reveal the emergence of cube from the shadow to introduce complexity and details to the animation.
  • In order to have parts of cube appear when the hero sphere is close to the edges, a spotlight with the sphere as the center of interest was used to light the object.
  • To bring depth into the scene, volumetric lights were created using a series of solid layers with vertically stretched Fractal Noise.
  • The camera movement is then animated, and the sphere layer was oriented to always faced the camera so it appears 3D throughout the shot.
  • Finally, to stylize the scene, color grading and post-processing was done using Curves, Deep Glow and Noise.

Wave & smoke explosion

For the explosion transformation shot, the scene was first animated in Cinema 4D and then stylized in After Effects. The 3D animation can be broken into two elements:

  1. Radial smoke trails This was made using a Loft with two circle splines distorted with the Displacer deformer with large-scale noise shader and Radial & Cylinders Fields to vary the waviness. It is then revealed by animating the Y-position from beneath the floor plane and rotating at high speed to simulate “smokey” movement
  2. Wave explosion — This was primarily achieved using a Tube with a Taper in the Y-axis with a extremely high Strength value, and a Bulge was used to stylized the shape.

Stylization

The attractiveness of this film is no doubt the soft gradient aesthetics produce by Anna. To achieve this type of look, the workflow was to render out flat colors from C4D, and then post-process into After Effects using a mixture of Radial Fast Blur, Fast Box Blur, Deep Glow, and Noise. The breakdown above demonstrates the stylization process.

Candle

The flying papers that forms the candle was made using a plane and Spline Wrap. The unique part of this animation was that I had Anna painted the texture to be used for the planes instead of generating a gradient in a material; this keeps things from being too CG.

In addition, this animation process was a seamless one because Anna had prepared a hand-drawn motion sketch reference for me to understand her vision. I found this extremely helpful as there was no need for me to guess what Anna had wanted if she had just given a single style frame to look at. I highly recommend designers to produce motion sketches to better communicate their ideas to animators.

Credits

Designer and Director : Anna Yang

Technical Director: Desmond Du

Animators: Anna Yang, Anna Vallario, Alexandra Marca, Sabrina Guyton, Marybeth Morgan

Composer and Sound Designer: Harley McCumber