A is for Al….

About

“A is for Al....” is my second short film and tells a story about a man’s search for things he forgot. The film took almost two years to produce in my own time and is the first in “The Mellifluous Peculiars” short film series I am currently working on.

Background

I started working on the film in 2016 with the idea of creating a series of short films about peculiar characters. I wrote a lot of different stories and in the end decided to start with the character who forgot his own name.

A background story of a character who would be too obsessed with his work that in the end caused him to forget everything that is not connected with his work, appealed to me. What would a character do once he realizes that he even forgot his own name?

Design

Initially I drew a few concept sketches of the main character just to see where the whole film might go visually. I always design character with animation in mind. So when the story called for a bicycle in the middle of the room to start electricity going I wanted the character to have long legs and a smaller bike. I liked the idea that he built his environment that actually works against him and he does not realize it. He would over complicate his environment. The set design came from that idea. Everything makes sense, but in an odd sort of way.

Below are some of the initial character and set design sketches.

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Production

Production started in mid 2017 with the modeling of the main character and sets. A lot of things had to be researched at that point. How to build shelves of glass bottles each different than the other without building each and every one? How to control hundreds of buttons on the computers without manually touching each one? How to control the character cloth without resorting to cloth simulations as they are tedious and usually slow? These and other technical questions had to be answered first before starting animation.

Since I was working on the film in my spare time, things would not always go at a steady pace. Sometimes I would produce 10 seconds of animation per week, the other times maybe just 2 seconds. But I always tried to create something every week, so the film would never come to a halt. Once the storyboards were finished and character and sets modeled, it took about 4 months to animate the whole film and another 4 for lighting, rendering and compositing.

Below are some of the props that were built to populate the sets.

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Music

For music I chose an orchestral dance piece by Johannes Brahms pretty early on. Once I heard its recording from Audio Network, I instantly knew this is the recording I have been looking for. When I also heard the solo violin version I decided to change the intro of the film and use the solo version in the first shot and continue with the full orchestra throughout the rest of the film.

Film stills