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Creating an Animation Film

Dissertation is considered an important part of Stage 3; students have to choose a topic and explore it, either as an 8000 word essay, or as an Artefact, accompanied by a 4000 word essay. As I have loved films since a young age, it was obvious to me to choose something related to film-making. This gave me the possibility to study in depth the analogies between architecture and films and produce my own film.

The fascination for Science-Fiction and my personal love for London, the biggest, and greatest, town on earth, gave me the idea for a short adventure taking place in London, in 2050.

Mega-London is a Sci-Fi short-film, about a young boy, Mark, visiting London for the first time in 2050. The city, despite maintaining its British look, has changed its face. New, and gigantic skyscrapers decorate the skyline. Trees are planted wherever possible. The city’s new buses and trains look slick and futuristic. On his first day in the British capital, Mark will discover new places and the meeting with a femme fatale will change him.

Bringing Mega-London to life was initially not an easy task. A film about London in the future was a pretentious project. My first intention was to film myself in London. Then, I would have incorporated the sequences with other scenes, where small sets and models would have simulated the new skyscrapers. However, I would have needed too many models and the budget became too high.

The second idea was CGI; programmes like 3DS Max and Photoshop make it possible to create some spectacular cityscapes. It was a shame to discover that the time needed to render is excessively long for even a single frame. After a screening, in the school, of the film Akira (my personal 6th vision of the film), as part of ‘Movie Mondays’ hosted by MA Architectural Visualisation students, it became clear to me that traditional animation could have been the key. Drawing is a skill every architect should be familiar with. With hand-drawing, you can create whatever you want; the only limit is your imagination. After a little research, I found Adobe After Effects to be the perfect programme to produce an animation. The decision was taken: Mega-London would have to be an animation film.

Learning how to use the programme took roughly less than a week, thanks to the Adobe library and the YouTube tutorials. The drawings were made by tracing over my personal pictures of London. Then, I added new architecture, scanned the drawings, photoshopped them and placedthem on my sequence. Making the entire film took almost four weeks.

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A very fun part was composing the music and recording my voice. As I wanted everything to be done by myself, music was no exception. After asking the Music Department for permission to use a music room, a synthesizer and some drums, I composed my own soundtrack, taking inspiration from great artists such as Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, Tangerine Dream and Daft Punk. A friend of mine, Laurent, recorded everything with his laptop and microphone.

Joseph Kosinski, director of TRON: Legacy and Oblivion, is an architect who became a film director and a great inspiration for my work. In an interview, he describes the analogy between a director and an architect to be the ability of communication. The architect can have a great vision for a building, but he will never be able to build it, unless he convinces other people that his idea is brilliant and worth the money. At the same time, a director must have a perfect vision too. His film must be engaging. This experience has definitely helped me enhancing both my computer skills and my communication skills. It was a tough and exciting challenge and I would do it again.

By Marcello Seminara, Stage 3

To watch the full version of Marcello’s animation, click here.

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