Written by Callum Luckwell
This is the second draft of our animatic.
Major changes involve:
- Making the Warren more likable. They appreciate the company of Marshmallow and show concern for him when he doesn’t immediately cross the stream.
- Timing changes. Some scenes that originally went by far too quickly have been lengthened. The same has been done for scenes that went on for lar too long, they have now been shortened by several frames.
Colour overlays were added to give us more of a guide on how to light/colour the scenes when it comes to that stage of production.
As the time approached to set up a 3D animatic, I put together a cohesive list of all the scenes and shots in the 2D animatic, and counted all the frames in each shot so that the timings matched.
This was done for every scene and every shot in the movie (with a grand total of 101 shots).
As I wanted to give our short film the aesthetic of Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) I went looking for some behind the scenes videos and came across this gem from the lead animator of the game.
It is a wonderful and comprehensive presentation about how the tiny team working at Moon Studios managed to make an absolutely beautiful game whilst overcoming their limitations (team size, experience etc).
A lot of the presentation is to do with game design which isn’t really relevant, but it is still fascinating to see how everything came together.
As Callum and I are proficient at very different skills, we decided to allocate the main bulk of the work fairly evenly.
- Character Design
- Concept Art
- UV unwrapping and texturing
- Sound design
- 3D environments
The climax of the story is the most important part, and we were given feedback from Mike that our climax was probably the weakest part of our film, and needs to pack much more of a punch. I thought of a scene that would be similar to what we originally planned, but would be a lot darker and more surreal.
She turns around and comes face to face with the wolf, the culmination of all her worst fears. The wolf stands still, towering over her, and snarling. Drool pouring from it’s mouth like water, clouds billowing from it’s fur like fog, and lightning burning in it’s eyes. The rabbit is unable to scream, she is so terrified. All of a sudden, the great black wolf lunges at her, but instead of biting her, the rabbit is forced into the water. The lake is dark and overwhelming. The rabbit desperately kicks and looks around, but can’t see the surface. She begins to panic, thinking of how much of a failure she is, and how she can’t even cross a stupid little stream and how much better off her warren would be without her. In the end, she gives into her fears, closes her eyes and is still. But not dead. Breaking the silence, the buzzing of a bee can be heard. The rabbit opens her eyes. She spots the bee flying through the water as if it wasn’t there. The rabbit follows it with her eyes as it flies towards the field of dandelions below. The rabbit realises that she is floating above the flowery hill that she was initially trying to get to. She floats there, amazed, watching her warren just beneath her, eating the flowers. She can even see the tree, with it’s silhouette still visible under the water. For a moment the rabbit forgets that she needs to breathe, and suddenly snaps out of it. She swims towards the surface and takes a deep breath. She pulls herself back onto the log, and the wolf is waiting.
Following on from Callum’s research, we decided to make our story about a rabbit, as they experience anxiety most closely to humans. We also felt that rabbits are very cute and likable creatures that the audience would want to root for. I myself had never actually held a rabbit until a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the animals.
Callum and I sat down and spent an afternoon writing the story. Our idea for the actual plot of our short film is as follows:
A warren of rabbits is busy eating dandelions in a pleasant forest clearing. We see a smaller rabbit, most likely the runt, trying to squeeze through the masses of fur to get to the tasty flowers, but she’s not quite strong enough. Just as she thinks she might be able to grab a bite, the sentry lets out a squeak and the warren moves on. Our rabbit is left behind with only the nibbled stalks of the dandelions and a few scattered petals. She turns to see where her family has gone; they’re a few feet away, eating more dandelions. She hops over to the rest of the warren, but by the time she reaches them, they’ve already moved on. She is yet again left with only stalks. Our rabbit is visibly upset. She looks to see where the warren is running off to next, and sees that they are running over the crest of a hill. The sentry stops and looks back to her, expecting her to follow. Our rabbit springs into action and hops after her warren. As she runs over the hill, her destination is revealed: a beautiful hill covered in a blanket of yellow dandelions. On top of the hill is a curved golden tree, almost acting as a beacon. Our rabbit binkies in excitement. There will be enough flowers for everyone! However, as she runs over the hill she comes face to face with the obstacle that lies before her: A small, trickling stream. The larger rabbits are already beginning to cross, hopping over the water with ease. Our rabbit freezes. The water terrifies her, even if it is only a trickle. So much could go wrong. She could slip and hit her head, she could drown, she could be attacked by a predator in ambush. The sentry squeaks for her to follow, snapping her out of her panic. She takes a deep breath and plows forward. She inches up to the back of the stream, and gently dips her paw into the cold water, but fear takes hold of her again and she jumps back from the stream. Getting angry at herself, the rabbit looks at her reflection in the water. She tries to convince herself that she is just being stupid. The water won’t hurt her. All of a sudden, a drop of water breaks her focus. The rabbit looks towards the sky, which is now greying over. It is beginning to rain. The lush greenery of the meadow is now changing to a more muted tone. The rabbit blinks, confused. She then realises that something feels wrong. She looks down at her feet. They are submerged in water. The rabbit panics and leaps back out of the way. Frightened and confused, she looks to her warren across the now river. They don’t even seem to notice that the water has risen. They happily eat the dandelions and don’t pay her any mind. Even the sentry doesn’t care. Our rabbit screams to them, trying to get their attention, but nothing works. A gust of wind blows her sideways and she stops, turning her attention instead to finding shelter. She spots a leafy shrub nearby, and runs towards it, abandoning her warren. She hides in the shelter of the leaves for a moment, shivering. She is unsure of what to do next. Should she just return to her burrow, or should she try to brave the river and rain to get to her family? She begins to think about what might happen in both situations. If she stays she might get forgotten about, and be alone and exposed, or even starve. If she goes, she might drown. She doesn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, the heavy rainfall on the leaf becomes too heavy, and it snaps and falls on top of the rabbit. Soaking wet and shivering, the rabbit gets her to feet. She thinks, I’m already wet, I might as well continue. Using the broken leaf as an umbrella, she begins to walk through the rain and back towards the stream. She feels incredibly exposed, as the rain and fog has made it look as if the forest itself has retreated. The rabbit keeps seeing bird claws in the trees, and fox scratches in the shrubs. Afraid, she picks up into a run, but slips on a patch of mud and is sent sliding down the hill. She is stopped short by the water. The rabbit looks up, and realises that the river has now turned into a gigantic lake. She grips onto her umbrella tightly, hoping for any shred of comfort. She can’t possibly swim across, she’ll drown. There could be pikes, or worse, lurking beneath the surface. She looks up and down the bank for any signs of a narrow crossing. But, as luck would have it, a fallen tree makes is carried by the currents and stops just by the rabbit’s feet. Our rabbit cautiously moves towards the fallen tree and sets a paw on it. She looks out to see where it leads. We see that it stretches into the horizon with no apparently end. But it is the only crossing she has. Afraid of what might happen if she stays behind, the rabbit carefully steps onto the tree and begins to walk. She is trying her hardest to be brave, but the buffeting winds and lapping water makes her footing uneasy. She is also certain that she sees shapes beneath the water. The storm begins to get worse. She also begins to think that she sees hawks in the clouds. The storm escalates until a flash of lightning lights up the scene and thunder shakes our rabbit to the core. She freezes, gripping tightly onto her leaf umbrella. A gust of wind blusters around her, and sounds eerily familiar to a wolf’s howl. This terrifies the rabbit and she begins to run. The storm is continuing the swell and get worse. More lightning flashes and rips open the sky, but this time the lightning reveals the dark, intense silhouette of a snarling, hungry wolf. Lightning continues to flash as our rabbit darts along the log, avoiding the ravenous waves and they crash along the tree. A bolt of lightning strikes just in front of the rabbit and she rapidly skids to a halt. In her panic she lets go of her leaf. She has nowhere to run. She turns around and comes face to face with the wolf, the culmination of all her worst fears. The wolf stands still, towering over her, and snarling. Drool pouring from it’s mouth like water, clouds billowing from it’s fur like fog, and lightning burning in it’s eyes. The rabbit shrinks and curls up, defeated, and crying. She fully accepts her death. A few moments pass and nothing changes. The storm is still raging and the wolf is still snarling, but the raging wind almost becomes muffled as the rabbit softly cries. All of a sudden, she hears the distinctive buzz of a bee. She opens her eyes and pinpoints where the bee is coming from. It is beneath her. She looks down, and beneath the waves she can see the hill of dandelions all swaying in the breeze. Even the distinctive tree can be seen. All the rabbits are beneath her, eating the dandelions as if nothing was different. The rabbit realises that the water can’t be real. The storm subsides and the wind calms, leaving a perfect mirror reflection on the lake. The wolf still remains, standing still and staring at the rabbit. The rabbit slowly walks up to the wolf, and carefully places her paw on it’s nose. The wolf disappears in a cloud of ash. The rabbit is alone. She looks around and realises that she is still in the middle of a gigantic ocean, but all is still. She stands at the end of the tree and looks in the water. She takes a breath, and takes a step. But instead of stepping on water, she feels soft grass beneath her feet. She opens her eyes, and sees that she is back beside the stream, but has made it to the other side. Her warren is just a few feet away, eating dandelions. The sentry turns and looks at her, acknowledging her presence, and draws her attention to a special patch of dandelions just for her. Our rabbit takes one last look at the creek, then turns back to the warren. She has conquered her fears. With a look of pride, she hops over to join her family.