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Method Studios Reimagines 3D Animation for Painterly Motion Poem

Short film adaptation of the poem ‘Monsters’ by Dorothea Lasky employs highly technical workflow to convert 3D VFX elements to 2D animation.

In adapting the poem “Monsters” by Dorothea Lasky into a short animated piece for Motion Poems, Deluxe-owned Method Studios visualized a simple story told by an imaginative young girl as her worlds of dreams and reality start to blend together.

To keep the tone upbeat and open to interpretation, artists created a painterly, slightly gothic aesthetic reminiscent of moving Van Gogh artwork, with a red, purple and dark blue color palette. The fluid, constantly moving strokes create living images designed to communicate that reality is just out of grasp. The film premiered at the Young People’s Poetry Day event held by the Poetry Foundation.

“We wanted every frame to appear as if it was an illustration,” said Method Studios director Ivan Girard. “The animation style is very organic and the color composes the scenes in an otherwise flat image devoid of depth of field. We took a multi-tiered approach and basically turned traditional 3D animation on its head.”

Method achieved the 2D animation effect by applying the type of FX typically used for explosions and similar activities to 3D animation in a highly technical workflow. After creating the initial 3D animation pass, artists projected renders onto that geometry and a proprietary stroke system scattered points to define stroke length, flow direction, and lifespan, allowing the colors of the strokes to evolve over time, and the strokes to grow wider or narrower as the camera moved closer or further away.

The system allowed artists to customize each shot and art direct how the images moved, ensuring that they appeared to be drawn by the same individual and could withstand complex camera moves. For the final render, every other frame was dropped, providing the stop-motion-like feel and flickering of 2D animation to the final piece.

Source: Method Studios

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.