A SHADOW OF BLUE

The idea for this short film had been turning over my head for a while,since I saw a printed image that caught my attention: there were two little girls, in their school uniform, walking through the remains of a city destroyed by a war. I thought how amazingly strong those girls were, moving on with their lives on such an adverse environment, even playing around the rubble. And then I realized that maybe it was not that they were strong, it was that children are usually protected by some sort of childhood magic that help them keep their fantasies and imagination alive even when surrounded by despair.


I do like to tell stories on a metaphoric way. I also like to give the audience a chance to interpret the metaphor on the way that suits them best. I don’t like to be so despot of giving one single meaning to the story and pretend that everybody will be left only with that.


However, I like to approach the metaphor on a subtle way, avoiding clichés. For example, when writing the script for this short film, my intention at the beginning was to create the environment as resultant of a war, as impressive as the one I saw in the image of the two little schoolgirls. But I thought that showing it on an explicit way (tanks, rubble, destroyed buildings, smoke) would influence the perception of the audience. So I tried to show its adversity on a very subtle way, represented on one single character and her struggle of dealing with her own plight. Some people will see it, some people will not, but those who won’t will surely identify their own misfortune with the character’s. To me, as a director, obtaining that response is enough.

This is a story I’m very fond of, a story I have been wanting to tell for a long time. A story about dreams, about how they fight to become fulfilled. By making this short film I am actually fulfilling one of my dreams.

There are few things more satisfying for an artist than the response from the public to your work. So I hope that people will relate to the story. My intention with the script was to reassess the importance and the power of dreams. I wanted to pass on the message that those dreams that are followed, through rain and shine, can modify our reality to make it a bit closer to the one we wish we’d had

The main challenge I faced was how to approach the storytelling, I found the premise of telling the story through shadows quite interesting: it would allow me to have you creating in your mind an image of something you´re actually not seeing. An image of something I´m not showing you.


That subjectivity helps unleashing both our imaginations, providing and interesting turn to the story and allowing me to play freely with the character and the environment she is in.

Long rehearsing hours were needed to simplify the movements and achieve expressivity using only silhouettes.

Myriam Soto, the actress that brought life to the girl’s silhouette (above) / One of the long chroma key sessions at Blueberry Studios in Madrid (below).

There were three main things that differentiated this form other procedures I’ve gone through with other animated projects:

Having the character represented by an actress:

For the shadow sequence I wanted to bring the character down to a more realistic level, so instead of an animated character, I used a real person. Since we were going to use only her silhouette, she had to face the camera in a way that would not leave a weird shape. Every movement had to be carefully planned, since her body had to express a wide range of emotions that could not be supported with facial expressions.

Working with an actress also allowed me to obtain certain creative feedback from her that was later applied to the character.

Casting the shadows over the scale models:

Once the actress’ moves were shot, they were completed with some 2D animation and most of them were cast over the scale models (bench, buildings, gates, walls, etc) using a projector. The camera was mounted on a motorized slider so I could repeat the camera movements with exactitude, in order to later synchronize the shots.

Characters made out of a combination of hand-made puppets and 3D:

The main character is a marionette of about 25 cm high. The torso and the head were tracked and then replaced by a 3D model. The head, arms and the hands were animated entirely in 3D and created by the talented team at Eallin Motion Art.

As I try to experiment with every new project I face, pretty much the whole process is challenging. However, for this one I think the most surprising thing I’ve found is that I had to rethink the eye-integration technique I had been using so far. First, because this time the face of the character was made on 3D (so far I have had only used real puppets), and second, the head rotations were so pronounced that the eyes had to be shot from several different angles.


Even if I love working with this technique, this time I really needed to use real eyes because the girl was sitting and her body movements were limited. So it was a must to provide the character with a wide range of emotions, and transmit them in a way that only real eyes can. Working with an actress allowed me to obtain from her real emotions that are very hard to express using computer-generated eyes.

MAIN CREDITS


WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Carlos Lascano

PRODUCERS: Carlos Lascano - Paula Lema - Alexandre Charlet - Jonathan Hazan

ORIGINAL MUSIC: Alex Conrado

LINE PRODUCER: Paula Lema

3D ANIMATION DEPARTMENT: Eallin Motion Art

LEAD MODELING AND LIGHTING ARTIST: Libor Batěk

LEAD 3D ANIMATOR: Ondřej Přidal

DESIGN OF PUPPETS AND SCALE MODELS: Carlos S. Moya and Carlos Lascano

EDITING AND VISUAL FX: DreamLife Studio

DSLR CAMERA OPERATOR: Bernardo Casali

SOUND DESIGNER: Paul Wardlaw and Mark Vogelsang

DIGITAL COLOR GRADING: Jan Černý 

PRODUCED BY: Dreamlife Studio (Spain) - Les Films du Cygne (France)

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Eallin Motion Art (Czech Republic)

The marionette of the girl has been built in cardboard, wood, wire, fabric and porcelain.

Here’s a view of the scale set where the shadow scenes were shot.

The scale models were built in wood, cardboard and plaster.

As always, one of the parts I enjoyed the most was the final composition, the putting together of all the elements generated so far, plus the beautiful music created by my friend Alex Conrado, and the sound effects by Paul Wardlaw and Mark Vogelsang from OIART.

Paula Lema (Producer) and Myriam Soto (Actrees) discussing how to approach a scene

WATCH THE FULL FILM

Here you have the password to watch the video: shadow