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An original sci-fi hand-drawn animated feature from graphic novelist Dash Shaw and producer John Cameron Mitchell.
An original sci-fi hand-drawn animated feature from graphic novelist Dash Shaw and producer John Cameron Mitchell.
243 backers pledged $26,367 to help bring this project to life.


Hey everybody!

First of all, thanks for the amazing support—we’re past the 50% point and only a third of the way through the duration of our campaign… our calculators say: “this is good!” Yay! Thanks so much! I didn’t know what to expect going into this, but my belief in the kindness of strangers, acquaintances and internet users (humanity) has been temporarily restored!

Your donations are assisting in the completion of an animatic—a version of the movie told through rough sketches. In animation, like bank robbery, everything must be planned out in advance, otherwise lives are wasted and the perpetrators are humiliated.

This is a sequence I storyboarded yesterday that Lily Benson, our lovely editor, will compile with mock-sound into a moving animatic. I chose this to share because it shows how complicated some of the scenes are to plan, and it introduces you to some of the loopy interior/exterior worlds of the story. 

Michael Malone, the creator of the sandbox glass-encased city Argus, is on a news show. The news set is decorated with theatrical elements, like the curtains on either side. Scarlett, a test subject, is reflected over the image.

As the TV screen zooms in on Malone, we zoom out to reveal that Scarlett is watching the TV through a storefront display. It looks like it’s raining inside the store. Scarlett is wearing a t-shirt with the image of her face on the back of it, so that her face “rhymes” as it zooms out. Mostly, it’s about this play between all of the different things being revealed as the screen widens.

As she turns, we see her face, and she walks away…

…The camera continues to zoom out to reveal that the storefront is a fake—like a movie backdrop, placed along the inside of the glass-encased city. We’re in Argus. It’s raining Outside. These backgrounds are going to be fun to paint. The other artists working on the project and I can channel that Old Hollywood artificiality into the set pieces. Since this is traditional, hand-drawn animation, all of the planes of the zoom out are drawn separately, as if for a multiplane camera.

As we zoom out even farther, we see that we’re at a party celebrating the creation of these trompe l'oeil storefronts. On the stage, Hazel, the designer, is being praised. Hazel is the wife of Malone.

We zoom out even farther to see the crowd applaud.

The long zoom-out sequence ends. Malone is away from the crowd. Even though it’s a wide shot, we notice him immediately because of his placement and the fact that he’ll be moving. In animation, like in life, there’s a hierarchy of moving over non-moving things.

He looks at a “No Running” sign that Hazel has painted. We know it’s his perspective because the screen is tinted green from his green glasses. We’re now “inside” Malone.

From here, the scene continues. As you can see, we have to plan out all of these different pieces in the animatic to determine how to execute it. All of the editing has to be done in this sketchy phase. Besides technical things, we have to see if it’s working emotionally. This is just a little example of why the animatic is so important.

Thanks again! Any help spreading the word—tweeting, blog-posting, snail-mailing, PMing, telegramming, morse coding and sky writing—is super-appreciated and will no doubt be noted come Judgment Day!


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