Saturday, July 16, 2011

Working On The Ray Bradbury Odyssey: Part 4 (Why Mars?)

Out space is a particularly fun thing for me, to animate in After Effects. I've actually found that creating the elements in Adobe Photoshop can make for just as convincing stars and planets, as the 3D programs. That may be a bold statement, but when you're working on a project that can't budget for expensive 3D rendering, it can be done, and it can look good.

In this case, producer Michael O'Kelly wanted a slow run through the solar system while Malcolm McDowell read the Ray Bradbury poem, "Why Mars". A problem arose, though. The animation which was being crated by a 3D artist didn't look very convincing. In addition, the concept wasn't fitting the Mars theme of the poem in quite the way that was hoped, as well as the fact that the render time was far longer then we had. Action had to be taken. The result is this animation...

Why Mars? from Christopher (Moonlight) Cooksey on Vimeo.

Okay, so, that went by fast. You didn't think I was going to make you sit through a slow zooming vista of Mars, did you? No. You get the idea though. So, what did you just see? After talking with Michael, it was decided that we would use several moments from the script that we liked, but had to be cut for time. Ray has a love of old Sci-Fi movies so we wanted to show some of those, but didn't see how it fit in the play. Ray also ha a vision of Martians that wore golden masks to hide there emotions, but we didn't know how to fit that in, anywhere. I suggested that since the whole play is a journey into metaphor, we might be able to show these things as we slowly descend into the red planet. It could be as if Mars was sending them out to us. The final moment also inspired one of the two finished posters for the play.

An aside note, worth mentioning here is the look of the mask. Ray had always thought that the Martians were very much like the ancient Egyptians, so I based my design for their masks on the sarcophagus of King Tut.

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