The National Museum in Copenhagen recently opened its doors for the largest Viking exhibition in more than 20 years, featuring a fantastic cinematic centerpiece conceived and brought to life by Atelier Bruckner and Shilo.
Among hundreds of one-of-a-kind historical artifacts, at the exhibition's heart is a cinematic audiovisual installation accompanying the longest Viking warship ever found. Measuring 37 meters in length, this magnificent, nearly 1,000 year-old royal treasure is on public display for the first time in history. To present it in all its glory, Atelier Bruckner created a unique media installation, where actual salvaged artifacts are "embedded" into an epic animated panorama which was painstakingly brought to life by creative production company Shilo using original paintings made by hand.
According to Shilo creative director Tom Green, from the beginning, Atelier Bruckner envisioned a very hand-drawn approach which he says, "could really only be reproduced by painting each frame individually." As a result, this project involved a workflow unlike any in the past for the Emmy Award-winning company. "We took aspects of traditional hand-drawn animation and modernized them with today's technology," Tom said.
To dramatize the Copenhagen exhibition, Atelier Bruckner developed with Shilo a dramatic historical narrative that plays out in two one-minute chapters. The first chapter fully showcases the violence of Viking military actions. "We were able to show a more touching side to the Nordic inhabitants in chapter two," explained Shilo co-founder Jose Gomez, "by showing that they were not just raiding a village for enjoyment, but rather, they were doing so to provide for their families. To us, showing that aspect of their lives was definitely key to making the entire story work."
At Shilo's studios in California and New York City, after artists first created their matte paintings, a Flash artist animated each frame by hand, then gave their sequences to designer/animators, who imported the Flash files into Photoshop and added hand-painted textures over the original animation. Those sequences were then rendered, imported and composited using After Effects.
"A key factor that really helped was having the matte painters create an A and a B pose for each character in each scene," Tom continued. "Using those start and end-points, the Flash artists animated the 'in-betweens' and sent that content to the 2D team."