Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Spicy (3D Animation)

Blake Harris 01.21.2016

Have you ever ordered a lizard from Mexico and then dressed him up to look more like a vampire? Me neither. But that strange question serves as the premise for our PICK OF THE WEEK: an exciting and endearing 3D animation called Spicy.

The animated short was created by a talented quartet, who each wore several hats in the process of bringing Spicy to life:

  • Sofian-Hugo M’Rad (Story, Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Lighting, Rendering, Post- Production)
  • Matthieu Rubio (Story, Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, Lighting, Post-Production)
  • Marine Triadou (Story, Art Direction, Modeling, Texturing, Matte Painting, Animation, Post- Production)
  • Julien Bellanger (Music and Sound Design)

As much as we enjoyed the short film itself (which we elaborate on below), we almost equally appreciated the “Making Of” video that Team Spicy created to provide a glimpse into the process of bringing this story to life.

Spicy Making 3

Spicy Making 1

Spicy Making 4

By taking us behind-the-scenes, we’re able to gain insight into the modeling, rigging, texturing and several other aspects. But enough about the process, let’s check out the final product itself. So without further ado, here’s our PICK OF THE WEEK…

3 Things We Loved About This 3D Animation:

1. Point of View (and the Power of Empathy): Although not much of the film is actually depicted from a first-person perspective, Spicy does an excellent job of connecting the viewer with the protagonist and transporting us into his lizardy skin. This is accomplished through a judicious use of 1st person POV and cleverly shifting camera perspectives. And it begins right from the first shot.

This is how we first meet Spicy:

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He’s trapped in a box with his eyes poking through, which immediately engenders a sense of both empathy and curiosity. From there he is unboxed, and as he takes in his new surroundings–and the potential danger of this new situation–our empathy builds through a quick zoom and a closer look at the uncertainty in his eyes:

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Although that zoom feels sufficiently effective, the filmmakers sweep in even close.

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At this point, with our curiosity already piqued and concern already growing, we fully see the fear in his eyes and can’t help but connect with this endearing lizard. He has our empathy now for the rest of the story, enabling us to experience the ensuing narrative along with our titular character.

2. The Beauty and Effectiveness of Lived-In  Worlds: As established above, the centerpiece of our narrative journey is Spicy. Our enjoyment of this story will go as far as he can take us which is why, unsurprisingly, he’s designed so intricately. This is a good thing–it’s a great thing, actually–but it risks a common problem associated with character-driven stories: animators focus so much on the protagonist/s that they pay little heed to the environments.

In Spicy, however, that is certainly not the case. The environments here are as detailed and dazzling as the characters itself. Look no further than the room of Spicy’s new owner.

There are the hilarious and horrifying photos of the owner’s previous “guests”

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Then there are the pop-cultural touchstones scattered throughout the room:

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And last but not least there are elements of everyday human existence. Beverages by the keyboard, gum on the desk, etc.

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Think about how easy it would have been not to include some of the details like these. But the filmmakers made the extra effort and it pays off handsomely. Because taken together it creates what feels like a live-in world. Like these characters and environments existed before we ever watched this movie. Which not only adds a cohesiveness to the final product, but it also adds a layer of realism and drama.

3. The Ending: We won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say that when a hero meets a princess, there isn’t always a happy ending…

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If you enjoyed this 3D Animation, you may also enjoy these other animated videos that were amongst our favorites from the past week…

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Paper Hedgehog (0:57)

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NYC Gifathon (2:09)

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Funloft (0:24)

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Jose Cuervo- Scar (0:46)

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Home (7:49)

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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