Cube & Quote

Overview

The goal of this project was to create a short animated piece inspired by a Winston Churchill quote. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

The Challenge

To visualize the meaning and spirit of the quote through design and animation.

The Process

After much doodling and brainstorming in the ideation phase, the idea for the project was chosen. The quote was to be illustrated by an animation of light triumphing over darkness—suffering a momentary defeat but then returning back to triumphing even more than before.

The next step in my creative process was to find inspiration for the look and feel of the animation. I collected images from the web, magazines, nature and anything I could get my hands on. I then combined all of the findings into one concise document called the moodboard. This is typically a single page collage of the project’s visual style—this is what I reference in the designing phase of the project.

Mood Board

Once the look and feel of the animation was set, the next step was to craft a story. This project’s story was about a light square traveling around a dark cube—illuminating it with vibrant colors as it went along. After successfully illuminating the entire cube, the light square encounters trouble. Darkness begins to surround and ultimately stomp it out altogether, but only for a moment. The hero square soon returns with an explosive comeback that lights up the entire cube brighter than ever. The video concludes with light filling up the frame as the Churchill quote animates in the center of the screen.

This story was then laid out in the storyboard —a document where the script is married with rough visual sketches, giving a good visual idea of the animation’s progression.

After the storyboard was approved, I created an animatic using the storyboard sketches. The animatic allowed me to time out those sketches to the audio track that would be used in the animation.

The storyboard and animatic are incredibly powerful tools for visualizing what the final product will look like. However, for speed and cost sake, they are both comprised of rough sketches that aren’t very detailed. This is why created one fully rendered sample frame to go along with the storyboard and animatic. We call this a style frame . It serves as an example of the quality that can be expected from the completed animation.

Animatic

The storyboard and animatic are incredibly powerful tools for visualizing what the final product will look like. However, for speed and cost sake, they are both comprised of rough sketches that aren’t very detailed. This is why created one fully rendered sample frame to go along with the storyboard and animatic. We call this a style frame . It serves as an example of the quality that can be expected from the completed animation.

Style Frame

As you can see the final look of this animation ended up featuring a dark, high contrast environment with bright and colorful elements that stand out from the rest of the environment. The hero cube in the center may seem simply as a square of white light, but upon a closer look one can see that inside it are faint undertones of all the colors that surround it. Also, the entire piece is overlaid with a static noise texture that accentuates the colorful glow of the squares.

Seeing as this project didn’t include voiceover or any obvious informative visual elements like text or photographs, music had to play the vital role of carrying the animation from start to finish.

The selected song was Jack It Up by Daniel Pemberton—a tune from the Steve Jobs movie soundtrack. This song is a unique blend of cheerfulness and suspense. It begins with an upbeat stringed staccato rhythm, gradually grows more and more tense with the introduction of synth pad sounds and prominent timpani drum hits, making it a perfect audio match for our visual story.

Originally 4 minutes long, the song had to be cut down to around 35 seconds to match the duration of the animation. The challenge was to create a cut down version that still retained the progression of the various sounds that made this track so special.

The Outcome

This was a unique project seeing as the parameters were fairly open: create an animation around a quote. The quote inspired me to craft a story that looked something like this: immediate success, momentary failure and finally lasting success. The discovery & ideation phase produced the idea of using the universal theme of light vs. darkness to quickly establish the protagonists and antagonists while also foreshadowing the expected and desired conclusion of the animation.

The storyboard served as the project’s blueprint, showing the big picture and allowing for pain-free tweaks and revision until everything felt just right.

Seeing as the animation did not have any images or text, it was quickly obvious that music was going to have to carry the piece. Therefore, it was important to find the right song first and then make the storyboard and an animatic with that song’s progression in mind.

This project also illustrated the importance of delivering a style frame as it provided everyone with a better idea of the final quality that can be expected from the animation.

© 2019 Dmitriy Prokhnevskiy