New York, NY -- Two love-struck balloon dogs, one male, the other female, find themselves locked in a passionate pas de deux among the thorns and brambles of a threatening cactus patch in a new three-minute animated short, Tumbleweed Tango. The all-CGI film was produced by New York-based hybrid production, post production and visual effects studio humble, and was directed by Sam Stephens and Christopher Mauch of the directing duo hydra.
As the characters pirouette around the cactus field to a spirited tango instrumental, they get caught up in the transformative power of love. With each step, twist and turn, they turn themselves into something more than just balloon dogs. In the film’s climatic scene, their love for dance – and for each other – saves them from a perilous situation that’s gone from bad to worse.
In addition to co-directing the short, Stephens also wrote the script and performed the compositing on the project, while Mauch created the character designs and handled layout.
Stephens explains that Tumbleweed Tango is one of several studio-funded shorts and projects humble has produced over the past few years, each of which is designed to let its directors, editors and effects artists experiment with new creative and production approaches. Tumbleweed, for example, was designed to let them flex their character design capabilities while also allowing the studio to test drive both compositing techniques as well as new rendering software.
Tumbleweed Tango is the second major project that has been written, produced and post produced entirely at humble this year. In January the studio debuted a live-action comedy short for FreeCreditScore.com and the Sundance Channel, The Trial of Barnaby Finch. It called for numerous effects shots, including animated sequences and high-end compositing and color grading.
What inspired the storyline behind Tumbleweed? “At heart we’re sort of twisted people here at humble,” Stephens explains with a laugh, alluding to the dark nature of an earlier humble short, Homunculus, which allowed them to play with 3D animated characters that interacted within a 2D stop-motion environment.
“That one was a little dark and disturbed,” Stephens continues, “so we wanted something light and whimsical this time. And while we put the tangoing dogs into as much harm as possible, we also gave them a graceful way to escape, so the film has a happy ending.”
Tumbleweed Tango has already begun to make the festival circuit; it screened at the recent New York Shorts Festival in Manhattan, and will also screen at the upcoming Animation Block Party in Brooklyn, N.Y. in late July.