This is a breakdown of how we created our award-winning short “The Beauty,” which imagines an underwater world integrated with the plastic waste mankind has dumped into the oceans.
Early on, we kept asking ourselves “What if plastic could be integrated into sea life?” We wanted to explore a kind of detachment from our environmental guilt in the film. At this point, Pascal started sketching creatures that would help embody this idea. After many iterations, he ended up creating three main creatures: a tire eel, a bottle whale, and a bubble fish. He followed that up with three secondary creatures: a flip flop swarm, jellyfish bags and straw weeds.
Once the concept and creatures were figured out, the next challenge was to find a way to tell a story around it. Should the creatures communicate with each other? Should there be some sort of relationship between them?
In the end, we decided that we wanted to document these creatures as they would exist in nature. We took inspiration from typical BBC documentaries where you get an inside view on animal behavior. From that point on, all the puzzle pieces started coming together: the voice over that talks about how plastic is living in our coral reefs, the irony that comes with that, and the ending of the film that shows the real world consequences of our collective actions.
Once we decided that we were going to create a twist on a documentary, the main challenge became how we would achieve a photorealistic aesthetic. One of our solutions to this was by shooting real footage underwater, and the other was by using the most advanced technology and talent to generate the creatures. At this point, we got a team together to tackle the film: Marc Angele (VFX Supervisor), David Dincer (Underwater Cinematographer) Noel Winzen (Rigging TD and Animator), Aleksandra Todorovic and Tina Vest (Producers).
David and Pascal started diving together to figure out how they could capture underwater images that were usable for a CG workflow. During that process, Marc and Pascal started with some rendering and lighting tests to see if we could render physical objects in an underwater environment. After both aspirations proved successful, we were all set to go, and Aleksandra and Tina found this amazing location at Diving DE in Egypt. They allowed us to shoot everything we needed in the most amazing scenery.
We shot the coral parts and all our references in the Red Sea in Marsa Alam, Egypt. For the garbage scene in the end, we went to France. Brittany and Normandy are famous for their “nature pools,” which are public swimming pools built close to the sea, so that when the high tide comes in, the pool gets flooded with ocean water. This proved to be the perfect location for us to shoot our plastic trash scenes: clear water, no environmental reflections, and small, ocean-like waves. Most importantly, none of our handmade garbage items got lost at sea!
Last but not least, we captured some soft corals in front of a green screen in a coral store close to our film school.
We started off by analyzing all the references we shot, to get a feeling of how the materialsContinue reading