Special Guest, the multi-talented sibling of 1st Avenue Machine, recently summed up the company's eclectic creative spirit with an 80-second stop-motion style animated film entitled "Special Guest: The Journey."
The film is the debut for the studio's newest addition, Director Vinicius Costa. In the studio's tradition of having new directors create a film based on their idea of The Special Guest, Vinicius Costa created "Special Guest: The Journey" The film employs the metaphor of travel using a neatly-packed suitcase to reveal the company's diverse and multi-faceted capabilities.
"I was visiting New York on business, and saw an interesting book on perfect packing," says the Brazil-based Costa. "It occurred to me that just looking at someone's luggage could tell you a lot about the owner's personality. The idea stayed with me, and I started thinking of Special Guest as a suitcase full of unique techniques, options, and creative styles, all right there for the taking."
Opening with a full-screen shot of neatly folded shirts and other apparel, "Special Guest: The Journey" widens out to reveal the scene on a t-shirt. A pair of arms reach forward to deftly fold the t-shirt and place it in a suitcase. As the camera pans to the left, the suitcase extends to reveal a wide variety of brightly patterned shirts. The shot continues smoothly as the patterns begin to interact with one another. A chest pocket opens like a door before emitting a long blue ribbon which just as quickly becomes a roadway complete with moving cars. Surrounding patterns spring to life, revealing moving airplanes and trains, as cars attempt to park between the black keys on a keyboard. The scene changes to one of dimly illuminated space before changing utterly to reveal a doorknob.
"In keeping with the theme of luggage and travel, I started working with hotel elements," says Costa. "I came up with a doorknob tag in the shape of a G, sort of like a 'Do Not Disturb' sign. I knew I had an important symbol that would connect the video together."
Drawing out from the doorknob, viewers are presented with a tiny person ready to enter a tiny doorway on the giant doorknob. As the door opens, the epic music swells and the camera drifts upwards to reveal a colorful, whimsical environment that seems equal parts Salvador Dali and Monty Python.
Brilliantly colored, illustrative images combine with flying beds and pink jellyfish, and precede a cartoon-like rendering of the company name backed by rays of heavenly light puncturing clouds. No sooner is the scene complete than the camera pulls back to reveal a Special Guest t-shirt, which is duly folded and placed in a suitcase, bringing "Special Guest: The Journey" to a close.
"While in New York, I also saw the incredible Salvador Dali show at the Museum of Modern Art," says Costa. "It blew me away and inspired me to combine my illustrative techniques with elements of surrealism. Back in Brazil, I enlisted the help of my colleagues at Studio Animatorio to put all of this together. It was a big challenge, because we used so many techniques and styles to create a very unusual scene. I wanted all the elements to be realistic in their interactions with each other, but I also wanted a playful feel. In the end, the film is so packed with details that it needs repeated viewings. Since it begins and ends with the same shot, I liked the feeling of it turning into an infinite loop, a symbol of Special Guest's renewable talent."