A producer friend of mine contacted me about creating an animated flashback sequence for the above hip-hop theatrical production. I was intrigued by the premise. It was basically a variety show decorated with incredible talents (singing, dancing, spoken word, etc.) ,framed around a simple yet strong arc of tragedy, trial, and redemption. I was most interested in the setting: an old time circus. Circuses by nature have such a mesmerizing design aesthetic. From the playful yet haunting music, to the grandiose and chilling promise of the absurd, wondrous, and thrilling. I was hooked, but…
… I turned it down. My wife had just given birth to our beautiful and long awaited baby boy, Charlie Bastian. So in many ways I was deep in the maelstrom of early parenthood. I was still adjusting to my new responsibilities, which made accepting any gigs very risky. Especially one that was a major plot point for a very ambitious stage show. It was hard to turn it down, but I didn’t know if I could make the time commitment.
Our correspondence continued, with me promising to help find another willing animator. However the more we talked about the details of the project, the more I found myself planning ways to make time for it. Eventually, I said that I’d do it.
The original premise starts with a mother running from an threatening yet ambiguous entity. Eventually after a long chase, she is forced to leave her baby at a nearby circus in hopes of leading her pursuer away from her child. At which point the innocent baby is discovered by the circus’ mysterious ringmaster.
Once I was briefed on the background of the story and it’s myriad collection of captivating circus dwellers, I was ready to get to work! Figuring out where to go stylistically was the hard part. Although I had accepted this as a project, I was still bound by fatherhood and very much a part of my child’s welfare and upbringing. I couldn’t devote nearly enough time to create a traditional animated piece. I proposed doing it in the style of a motion comic. This would allow me to create quality drawings without having to magically create the time needed to draw frames of motion. Fortunately, that got the green light. I storyboarded each scene based on the basic outline of events along with musical score (thanks to Sam Genovese for editing the clip down to manageable size). After, I painted each scene in Adobe Photoshop. My goal was to use many separate layers that I would later animate in Adobe After Effects, composing the final product.
Below was the result of my undertaking!
The Final Render
The show was surprisingly entertaining. Not because I didn’t think they had the chops to put on a quality show, but because I didn’t anticipate the incredibly high level of showmanship and dedication displayed by all performers. Bravo!
• Be sure to check out http://soulciety.org/. They’re the awesome bunch responsible for this production. They do a lot of great things for the youth and community and are totally worth supporting.
• My good friend filmed and edited the Empower trailer above. He is a talented filmmaker whose works are collected at http://nelsonnunez.com/.