Backwords Design Co.
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Napping Under the Echo Tree


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Milo's 2015 album "So The Flies Don't Come," featuring "Napping Under the Echo Tree," inspired the direction and design of this short animation. Milo meditates on the words of thinkers such as Heidegger and Nietzsche, attempting to place himself within their words. He stumbles through his rough outline of what he should be, much like the rough illustrations of this piece. He can see his way, and pops of color lead him there.


Creating the Animation

A hand-drawn style of animation felt right for this piece—something reminiscent of traditional cel-animation using a liquid fluency. Utilizing both digital and analog art, and fusing them created the unique style of this animation. Bursts of color appear upon the simple black and white animation like Milo’s thoughts in a monotonous and lost world. At three minutes, and being mostly hand drawn,
I knew this animation would be challenging, and sorting out my ideas would be pertinent to its success. I created a 50 frame storyboard to lay out each most important aspect, as well as annotating the script in order to find exactly what Milo was attempting to say. In order to create realistic movements in the animations, I filmed several reference videos to give myself a foundation for drawing out each frame. With the reference material shot, I then went to After Effects, drawing out each frame by hand (or rather mouse). I then added flourishes in the form of tapered strokes and colored shapes, which used a displacement map, roughen edges, and a turbulent displace effect to make them feel hand drawn as well. Some aspects of the animation, like the large explosions and the type, was done completely digitally. I increased the displacement for these parts to make them shake randomly like the hand-drawn frames do. Some aspects of the animation, like the final sequence, when a heart turns into a sock and then becomes a smile, were drawn out in Illustrator. In order to have the lines be able to draw out each part in succession, I created each object in illustrator. I then redrew each using only three lines. Once in After Effects, I used the trim paths function to reveal only the parts of the lines I needed for each object. The result was several objects being drawn out by only a few lines. Some scenes, like the apartment building, required dynamic movement and accurate drawings, yet I had no way of filming this. Instead, I created a 3D model in Cinema 4D Lite and animated that to use as a reference. The combination of these tricks and effects created an animation that effectively tells a story, and has power. Big ideas can often be held back by a lack of equipment or skill, but there is always a way to accomplish them.


Created by Tanner Puzio
Music: Milo "Napping Under the Echo Tree" © 2015 Hellfyre Club
Font used: Skinny Caps by Jamie Walker