Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Time Smash (3D Animation)

Blake Harris 04.06.2016

If we, as a society, have learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that time travel can be a dangerous endeavor. How dangerous? Well, if you accidentally leave your cat behind, that could potentially wipe out humankind as we know it. At least according to Ben Reicher’s smart, stylish animated short Time Smash, which we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK.

In just over two minutes, Time Smash manages to tell a complex–yet entertainingly accessible–tale in which a scruffy-faced time traveler accidentally leaves his cat behind and inadvertently undoes history (and the present) as we know it. The film’s director, Ben Reicher, is no stranger to the craft of creating animated shorts. During his time at CalArts, Reicher made three such films: Awesomeforce Part 2 (2013), Mirage Maker (2014) and Valor Cat (2015).

mirage-maker

Mirage Maker (2014)

valor cart

Valor Cat (2015)

In Reicher’s latest film, he returns with a hyper-futuristic flair reminiscent of Valor Cat, and delivers a tight, thought-provoking look at time travel and cultural evolution. Below is a link to the 3D animation, which we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK:

Credits: 

  • Written and Directed by Ben Reicher
  • Beats by Nacho Cano
  • Cat paintings by and Maureen Kuo, Allegra Jones, Victoria Van Patten and Ben Wickey

3 Things We Loved About This 3D Animation

1. The Subtle Humor (and its Bearing on Narrative): Time Smash contains many humorous moments. In particular, sequences like these stick out in my mind:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.38 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.34 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.40 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.42 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.49 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.48 AM

Each of these moments made me chuckle, but it’s really the ones that made me silently chuckle–the more subtle moments–that impressed me the most. Especially upon repeated viewings. Not only because they provided unexpected whimsy, but because they really helped the engine that powered this story along. By which I mean that more than just a laugh, the humor of the detail stuck with me and me think about the narrative at greater length (and in a different way).

For example: the note. Unlike most time travel stories–where the fate of humanity rests upon our hero’s shoulders–this one begins with a much simpler notion:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.03 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.04 AM

Wait, what? Don’t go to Cynthia’s New Years Party? While those earns did indeed earn a chuckle, I got a bigger (and quieter) laugh fro the realization that this less-dramatic mission is, indeed, what actually seals the fate of humanity.

But wait, let’s go back to that message: Don’t go to Cynthia’s Party. How bad could this thing be to necessitate a hand-delivered time travel message. We’ll never know, but here’s what we can gather: whatever happened there was bad enough to injure our time traveler who limps throughout our entire story. Although the limp is rarely played for laughs, each stuttered step becomes slightly humorous in hindsight and also adds a nice panache of enigmatic pacing for our story. Well executed, Mr. Reicher!

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.23 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.23 AM 1Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.24 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.25 AM 

2. The Time Machine: When crafting a time machine, it must be quite hard to both create something original and something that also doesn’t aesthetically clash with the various “times.”

Reicher does a real nice job here of coming up with something relatively simple in shape and color scheme, but that feels distinct and unique via its details.

The neon-ish coloring and flaring of light is a nice touch:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.21 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.22 AM

The versatility of that fluorescent feel also enables the machine to camouflage nicely with various settings. Whether hurtling through time…

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.11 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.12 AM

Parked on the street…

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.06 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.21.05 AM 1

Or back in Ancient Egypt…

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.22.14 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.22.14 AM 1

3. The Ending: We won’t spoil it, but will just say we wish we could go back in tour ourselves to warn the traveler that this was about to happen…

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.22.38 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.22.38 AM 1

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

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

Similar Stories