When creating this dreamy animation piece, ‘The Circle Line‘, Adam Wells took a different approach than he normally would when working with CGI. He decided to try animating the polygon shapes frame by frame like you would with traditional cell animation, rather than using the character rigs of regular 3D.
This allowed him the freedom to warp and stretch the characters, making it easier to play with the movement and energy he wanted.
The laborious process paid off with something that is as stylish as it is frantic and abstract. We take a look as Adam talks more about the process he came up with.
The core aim of the work was to try make something fun, chaotic and full of energy. I completed a 18-minute short film last year that is full of considered pacing, in alot of ways this was an antidote to that work.
I tend to work very quickly on these projects, and I wanted to try to inject some of that into the work itself. The story builds in a lot of my experience how it feels to live in London (thus the title). There are quite a lot of visual analogies in the film that people seem to interpret in thei own ways, so it’s probably better not to be too prescriptive here.
In terms of technique; I feel the last few years 3D animation has become a bit stagnated despite been quite a new medium. Visually, it seems to be putting a lot of animation lovers off, so I am trying to push the artform in a different direction with this strand of my work.
I draw polygon shapes directly into the 3D package in a similar fashion to illustrator, I then simply animate each point in a 2D view , frame by frame. 3D animation is often compared to puppetry because you animate with character rigs, that do not give as director control as drawing.
Using this method I have direct control over the appearance of the character, and means I can draw on more traditional animation tricks such as stretching and smearing.
Some might view this as me simply applying retro techniques in a new environment, but I’d argue that the CGI characters give a different appearance and fit better into the environment. I also consciously avoid any kind of cinematography to emphasise that we are watching animation. Not film.
© Adam Wells, 2013