Scott Naturals was a rare chance for myself and the team at Bent to explore the commercial and artistic possibilities of Strata Cut animation technique with a series of stenciled out paper sheets, which were lined up in deep continuing space.
This Strata Stencil idea was first explored by animator Javen Ivey in his 2006 thesis project ‘My Paper Mind’ at Pratt, partly inspired by Bent partner David Daniels’ original plasticine technique. After graduate school, Javen later came to intern at the Bent. Aaron Noffsinger from the Tris3ct agency in Chicago was also very familiar with David’s Strata Cut, and thought it would be a great artistic starting point for Scott's first broadcast spot, and a great exploration into the animation realm.
I was brought into the project as a director to design and conceptualize with David using “Paper Mind’ as an influence, but not an ultimate destination. Together, we created a more complex and highly produced space. Executing it all in CG as opposed to by hand, was an absolute production necessity due to timing and content changes up to the very end of the short deadline.
We explored both negative and positive spaces in the stencil effect, and also introduced a very unique “Rolodex effect“ that was made out of animated cut-out layers overlapping each other over an long camera shot. The clean factor of CG forced us to find ways to add irregularities to the paper, as well as and color and exposure shifts to bring back more of the ‘folk’ accessibility and ‘hand made charm’ to the audience.
Creating some of the silhouetted stenciled shapes in CG also allowed us to do some interesting slight perspective changes. It’s brief and underplayed, but helps the subliminal flow and clarity of each scene.
We used a physical (practically shot) paper towel roll at the end from which pull out with the assistance of a motion controlled camera. This assured the realism we were looking for in the end product tableau, while continuing the flow and drama of a continuous camera move coming out from the CG world.
In its essence the project was highly technical and demanded constant collaboration between our compositing and CG teams, but it allowed us enough creative space to experiment and innovate in many ways.
Client: Kimberly-Clark Worldwide
Director: Nando Costa
Executive Producer: Ray Di Carlo
Senior Producer: Tsui Ling Toomer
Producer: Mark Axton
Coordinator: Chris Barber
Storyboard Artist: Dan Schaefer
Principal Animators: Eric Scheur, John Lally
Additional Animators: Aja Bogdanoff
Stopmo Director of Photography: Dan Ackerman
Stopmo Animator: Eric Urban
Art Department Coordinator: Evan Stewart
CG Crew: TD – Fred Ruff. Modeling/Lighting/Rendering TD – Stef Kofman, Galen Beals, Shirak Agresta, Josh Cox, Eric Durante
Graphics Artists (2D): Dave Manuel, Traci Cook, Ken Nguyen
Editorial Company: BENT
Editorial Supervisor: Jeff Dawson
Editor: Jeff Dawson
Assistant Editor: Ben Blankenship
Visual Effects/Compositing Supervisor: Randy Wakerlin
Composite Artists (After Effects): Orland Nutt, Sean Saul
Colorist: Downstream Digital, Portland, OR – Jim Barrett
Sound Design: Deaf Dog Music
Music: John Ovnik
The short film "The Me Bird" is a free interpretation of the homonym poem by Pablo Neruda. The inspiration in the strata stencil technique helps conceptualize the repetition of layers as the past of our movements and actions. The frames depicted as jail and the past as a burden serve as the background for the story of a ballerina on a journey towards freedom. A diversified artistic experimentation recreates the tempest that connects bird and dancer.
Art Direction: 18bis
Music: Conrado Kempers, Pedro Carneiro
Ballerina: Ana Luísa Azêdo
I am the Pablo Bird,
bird of a single feather,
a flier in the clear shadow
and obscure clarity,
my wings are unseen,
my ears resound
when I walk among the trees
or beneath the tombstones
like an unlucky umbrella
or a naked sword,
stretched like a bow
or round like a grape,
I fly on and on not knowing,
wounded in the dark night,
who is waiting for me,
who does not want my song,
who desires my death,
who will not know I'm arriving
and will not come to subdue me,
to bleed me, to twist me,
or to kiss my clothes,
torn by the shrieking wind.
That's why I come and go,
fly and don't fly but sing:
I am the furious bird
of the calm storm.
– Pablo Neruda