Production company Blacklist and their wunderkind animation team Polynoid collaborated with 343 Industries to create five atmospheric and at times frenetic openers for “Forward Unto Dawn,” the highly anticipated web series promoting the November 6 release of “Halo 4,” the latest installment in one of the most successful franchises in video game history.
Polynoid’s microfilms illustrate the intense relationship between Cortana, an artificial intelligence entity and indispensable aide to Master Chief, the long-time hero of the Halo series. Set aboard a spacecraft, the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, as it drifts towards imminent doom, Cortana must battle to awaken Master Chief from cryo-stasis before it’s too late.
“For us, Cortana was the centerpiece around which we spun our story,” said Polynoid’s Jan Bitzer. “When we started working out the scenes and shots, we did it under the premise that Cortana is the only ‘alive’ being we could play with.”
With elegantly framed shots, drifting cameras and gloomy lighting, Polynoid emphasized the soul-crushing loneliness aboard the nearly empty spacecraft. To effectively communicate the passing of time, Polynoid switched from the relative calm of zero-gravity to intense time-lapsed action.
“[The time lapse sequence] was technically the most challenging. We spent a lot of time tweaking it; always try to improve every shot simultaneously to guarantee a consistent quality for the overall piece,” Bitzer noted.
Polynoid and Blacklist collaborated with 343 Industries every step of the way, carefully guarding production from the massive press surrounding “Halo 4.” “Polynoid are gamers, and this was a dream opportunity,” said Blacklist Executive Producer Adina Sales. "This project was a perfect fit for our team. 343 was looking for a sophisticated interpretation and they encouraged us to push the artistic lense. Polynoid had a clear vision from the outset and we were determined to deliver in spades. We’re very proud of the results.”