Pause is a film directed and designed by Anna Yang that follows a journey in search of a way to pause time. 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?
As a Technical Director and Animator for the project, my responsibility was to breathe life into the most complex shots in the film. I achieved this by devising innovative solutions that combined 2D and 3D methods.
- Motion Designer
- Technical Director
- After Effects
- Cinema 4D
Invisible glass cube
To create the invisible 3D cube shot, I utilized After Effects to composite layers in 3D space. The cube itself was constructed by aligning four solid layers and adding a Stroke effect. I then individually animated these strokes to achieve the desired emergence of the cube from the shadows, adding complexity and detail to the animation.
To ensure that parts of the cube appeared only when the hero sphere was close to the edges, I used a spotlight with the sphere as the center of interest to light the object. Additionally, I introduced depth into the scene by creating volumetric lights using a series of solid layers with vertically stretched Fractal Noise.
To maintain the 3D appearance of the sphere layer throughout the shot, I ensured that it always faced the camera by orienting it accordingly. Finally, I applied color grading and post-processing techniques, such as Curves, Deep Glow, and Noise, to add a stylized touch to the scene.
Wave & smoke explosion
To create this explosion transformation shot, I utilized Cinema 4D for the 3D animation, which was then stylized in After Effects. The animation can be broken down into two main elements: radial smoke trails and wave explosion.
The radial smoke trails were created using a Loft with two circle splines that were distorted with the Displacer deformer and a large-scale noise shader. Radial and Cylinder Fields were then applied to vary the waviness. The smoke trails were revealed by animating the Y-position from beneath the floor plane and rotating at high speed to simulate the “smokey” movement.
The wave explosion was primarily achieved using a Tube with a Taper in the Y-axis and an extremely high Strength value. A Bulge effect was used to stylize the shape of the explosion.
One of the defining features of this film is its soft gradient aesthetics, which were achieved through Anna’s expert direction. To create this look, we adopted a workflow that involved rendering out flat colors from C4D and then using a combination of post-processing techniques in After Effects.
To achieve the desired aesthetic, we applied a mixture of Radial Fast Blur, Fast Box Blur, Deep Glow, and Noise to the rendered colors. This allowed us to add depth, dimensionality, and texture to the visuals.The breakdown above provides an overview of the stylization process that was utilized to create the film’s unique and captivating visuals.
To create the flying papers that form the candle, I used a plane and Spline Wrap. One unique aspect of this animation was that instead of generating a gradient in a material, Anna painted the texture to be used for the planes. This approach was taken to ensure that the visuals did not appear too computer-generated, which added to the overall authenticity and organic feel of the scene.
The animation process was made seamless thanks to Anna’s preparation of a hand-drawn motion sketch reference. This was extremely helpful as it allowed me to understand her vision and work towards bringing it to life without having to guess her intentions. I highly recommend that designers produce motion sketches as it helps to better communicate their ideas to animators and results in a more efficient and effective workflow.
Designer & Director
Composer and Sound Designer: