Full-service design company Elastic detailed the work of Andy Hall, 3D and visual effects supervisor at VFX boutique a52, for the 2009 Newport Beach Film Festival. Working through Elastic and in collaboration with advertising agency RPA's creative director Scott McDonald and SVP/executive producer Gary Paticoff, Hall directed the festival's official :30 opening, which introduced all fare screened at the 8-day event that kicked off last week.
The fully computer-animated opening was designed by Hall to look and feel like one of the epic stop-motion masterpieces of Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton. The content artfully presents a take-off of the strangely similar aesthetic of studio titles - like Hollywood with a dramatic twist - that welcomes viewers to Newport Beach and their 10th annual celebration of film with wit and charm.
"Andy Hall is a mix of pure enthusiasm and sheer talent," began Scott McDonald, creative director at RPA. "Our client understood and supported what we were trying to do and believed in the artistry of the project. Elastic, Andy and a52 contributed such a sharp point of view - the very first ingredient was world class - we just kept throwing gasoline on that fire. I got to see this piece play on the biggest movie screen this side of the Mississippi and, let me tell you, it dropped some jaws."
"Being as this is the festival's 10th anniversary, the initial idea was a celebration of fanfare to the studios," Hall explained. "With that in mind, I wanted to create a narrative that took us on a journey connecting all these pieces. After much thought, it felt right to give the work a sense of style that tipped its hat to those opening fanfares - but in a whimsical way... and getting back to my roots in animation, I really wanted to create a unique vision that would make the opening something special in its own right."
Working closely with a52's CG team, Hall achieved his desired style by focusing on the staging of the various shots in the sequence, while adding countless details and textures to ensure that each world feels like a hand-crafted set, while the separate elements fit together into the action-filled narrative like clockwork.
"I was heavily influenced by the work of Terry Gilliam, particularly 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' because of its theatrical nature," Hall added. "By giving it a lot of texture and layering the lighting, I was able to capture a stage-like quality, and the whole film became very much a labor of love. I wanted there to be layers of detail, so that every time it's watched, viewers might see something new."
The end-frame of Hall's open, showing an iconic 3D sand sculpture forming the words, "10th of a Century: Newport Beach Film Festival," is the image featured on the festival's poster, program and within its print advertising.
The finished content was flawlessly color-graded for film and HD/SD broadcast presentation by a52's Patrick Murphy using Autodesk Flame, and is driven by an original orchestral score from Robot Repair. Elastic's credits include executive producer Alex Gorodetzki, and for a52, executive producer Linda Carlson, producer Jenny Bright, CG supervisors Kirk Shintani and Max Ulichney, and 3D artists Adam Newman, Paulo de Almada and Christopher Janney. The spot's final mix is courtesy of Santa Monica's Framework Sound.
Finally, Hall also confirmed that Autodesk Maya 2009 formed the vital component of the project's production. "Especially with the new feature sets like the animation layers, it allowed for even great flexibility to create this imagery exactly the way I imagined it... if not better."