ENDTRIP is an animated short film depicting a CG ‘trip’, in which the viewer experiences a breathtaking journey through the bizarre and fantastical unconsciousness of a drug overdosed girl. While pretty hardcore, this visually stunning voyage offers a stereoscopic 3D glimpse into the extraordinary and strange workings of the mind. Reality and fantasy become intertwined into a dream where nothing is as it seems.
CGSociety spoke with Rick Franssen, Koen D. de Mol and Olivier Ballast, final year students at the Dutch media school HKU. Dubbed by the guys as a 'University of the Arts', the school allowed the trio to create the piece with a full range of industry standard packages, depicting this controversial subject, in one long, stereo output shot.
The technical background of each of the core crew is reflected in the internships granted to each in their native Netherlands. Koen de Mol took a term in at PostPanic, Olivier Ballast went to the Onesize studio and Rick Franssen had a slab of time at Condor Digital in order to gather industry experience during their tenure at the college.
"The main inspiration was to depict what a 'trip gone bad' looked like," says Rick Franssen. The film-makers say they did some 'hands-on' research, as well as interviewing those who say they have been close to the conditions of a 'bad trip'. The three CG artists tried to depict what the experience would be like, "when someone takes too much and literally, sinks away in their own subconscious," says Franssen.
The school the three students recently graduated from has 3D animation and computer effects courses, as well as some for live action film-making, sound design and direction. The teachers at the college tend to push the students to be creative, to go out on the edge, as opposed to just dig into the technology of the software. Koen de Mol mentions that most of the technical depth is up to the individual. "If we wanted to create something intense with just rocks and paper, we can do that, but we chose to use these packages to create our film because it was something impossible to visualise any other way," adds de Mol.
There is one long camera move in the 'ENDTRIP'. "There was no place to hide things in this short," Franssen continues. "This is also why the composites in post were so huge. They lasted almost five minutes." The voyage down the tunnel as the patient sinks into herself includes a tremendous number of colors, as well as elements that continually morph from one form to another. While the development of the idea came from the research of the relentless drug trip, the extra challenge in the creative process was that the entire 'trip' was generated in stereo. Although the 3D version isn't yet available online, it soon will be. The trio have also released the clip to be played at several festivals that allow the concurrent release on the web and have been astounded at the reaction.
The main software to create the environment and tunnels, then lighting and modeling of the long sequence was Autodesk Maya, but they also brought in MAXON CINEMA 4D, Pixologic ZBrush and the main body of rendering was done in Chaos Group's V-Ray. There were other classes like the volumetrics that were tackled in Solid Angle Arnold. All compositing for the piece as collecting in The Foundry's NUKE. "We were lucky enough at the school to be able to use the best tool for the job," adds Franssen. The three are now freelance, and each is looking forward to being employed, digging into some fantasy CG out in the industry.
The film has already been officially selected for the KLIK! Amsterdam animation festival.
Director: Koen de Mol, Olivier Ballast, Rick Franssen
Music and Sound design: Tijs Ham
Camera: Tim Thuis
Gaffer: Sander Schram, Tom Arkenbout
Cast: Femke During, Cecile Hanrath, Veerle Cima, Myrthe van Gurp, Derk Reneman.