‘Z’ is composed entirely of z-depth images - also known as ‘luminance depth’ or ‘depth map’ images. Z-depth is a ghostly black & white data-driven format native only to CG animation. The function of the z-depth image is similar to radar or the MRI scan. It interprets objects within a scene according to distance: those closest to camera are black, those furthest away are white (or vice versa). Details are lost at either end of the spectrum, and are likewise revealed within the middle distance. Functionally, this allows CGI artists to pull camera focus in post-production by using the monochromatic shades in the z-depth pass to isolate and focus on the corresponding depths of the full-colour CG scene.
The ‘selective vision’ embodied by the Z-depth image format has informed the theme of the animation - the production of historical narrative. Z is about how we make sense of the clutter of current events, how we create epochs, and how, in an era of intense global change, we are affected by a kind of longterm myopia that obscures us to the larger forces at work.
Directed and Animated by Alan Warburton.
Commissioned by Animate Projects for Channel 4’s Random Acts series.
Soundtrack ‘Iconography’ by Max Richter, courtesy of Fat Cat Records.
Title Card by I Love New Work.
Special thanks to Mainframe.