Animated Shortfilm

Client: Teacher
Type: Graded Exam

They lived in darkness. Then came the light and now they continue to send the spark out to find other dark worlds.


In order to improve my latent 3d design skills I signed up for a 2 months/full-time course learning about Maxon’s Cinema 4D software. As a final project we could choose between rendered stills or a short animation. Most decided to do stills, but I wanted to do the latter. Despite the short time frame I knew I could do it. Unfortunately there is no sound (yet) as I couldn’t source free material that suited my idea.




During the course of the workshop we learned with the usual objects of donuts and cubes. Eventually I couldn’t see them anymore and challenged myself to design a little cubistic figure I could use instead. That’s how the first Dude came to be. The idea for “bringing the light” evolved around the notion how in design, especially in 3D Design nothing works without good lighting. Being trained in film production certainly helped me here.




I used the laptop at the workshop place to render most of it (we had to), and also my machine at home in the evening (+ one sleepless looong night) to render a couple of extra things, like the intro with the paper plane for example. The most important goal for this project was to tell a story in under 3 Minutes, but to also keep render time to a bare minimum in order to get it all done in time – no second chances there. I did test renders with Global Illumination and really love the subtle glow GI creates. It’s a lovely tool. Everything else would have destroyed the overall look. But GI was not an option because it takes days to render and I only had 3 in total. Time I didn’t have. So real GI was not an option here.



I spent probably an entire day only on lights and setting them up so it looks almost like the GI in my test renders, and doing this did not affect render times dramatically. I am pleased by end result and though the film is very short and a bit abstract, I think the emotional aspect works quite nicely. As the camera fly through the town is short I only added decoration in places that needed it without distracting the viewer and reduce render time. Setting the camera was the easier part for me, and I enjoyed it very much.

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As I like the polygon look of 3D models in general I wanted to include that feel in my project too, but not overdo it. The matte papery look and feel of the landscape and town I created remind me of my old Playmobil toys. I used colored paper for the texture and material of most objects. When creating the house and the glowing globes I was inspired by things I see around me. There is actually an alleyway close by with these kind of street lights. It also helps that I love Interior Design and Architecture and have a good knowledge of both.

The other big challenge was how to make that plastic Dude walk. I have made models in 3d Max before, but never made anything walk. The test worked out okay, but somehow messed up again and started bugging out. The “skin” of the dude isn’t very stretchy, so to find the right amount of movement without distorting and displacing the entire model wasn’t as easy as maybe with a model with proper limbs. Again, I really like the end result and was moved when the little guy walked his first steps.

The final edit I did in Adobe Premiere Pro.