All posts by Emanuele Romano

Stop motion building

What took us a long time at the beginning of the project was designing and planning what we needed for the stop motion shots.

In the end we greatly reduced the amount of building needed for the last scene, by changing the plot. We went with one single set focusing on the accuracy of details more than on quantity.

We chose to do it first since we knew it would have taken long.

One particularly tricky part was aligning the window with the scenery “outside”, to make sure the perspective looked right and the camera zoom out went straight inside the hospital room.

This is some backstage pictures of set building.



Space scene

There is a scene in the middle of the short where the character, dissolving into bubbles, finds himself in a space like environment.

The purpose of having that scene was only to represent the unconscious side of the character, expressing old emotion and lived atmospheres through images.

So we changed several times the content of this short bit.

Here an example of some designs (some of them haven’t been used in the end) and how the look evolved

Robot (part2) and key positions

During this week I finally started doing key positions for some scenes.

The most complex, due to the level of detail is probably the robot scene, so I thought was better to start with it.

This is the design we thought for the creatures working on moving the limbs. The idea at first was to do something similar to tendons shape, as we were thinking of drawing the character made of showing muscles. Then we developed the robot concept so we transformed the tendon-like creature into some sort of square monkey.

Each one of them has some details to differenciate from theothers but, being them very secondary in the plot, we didn’t want any to stand out too much and we kept them fairly similar.

The scene is almost complete now (even though it took me longer than planned). Here are some still shots


One of the symptoms of the stroke would be to gradually lose control over the body movement, until paralysis may occur. In the scene we had to design, we tought of visualizing this loss of control over the limbs, with small creatures activating a mechanism to move them and eventually failing in doing their job.

So we tought about turning the whole character into a robot just to represent this part, and we chose to use a steampunk like machine and structure made with metal pipes and  geared wheels.

at first the debate was to use a more modern and smooth design for the robot, but being an old man we agreed that this kind of material would suit him better. this is the rough creature’s scene order as we designed.

We tried to keep it as simple and short as possible to not create confusion and still deliver the idea we wanted to tell.



Animatic (early march update)

It seems like today we managed to complete our story!

before we had doubts about the ending and other small scenes troughout the story, but finally we found an agreement and made up our minds.

This is how the last scene should have looked. It is where, during his second allucination, he enters this world where the emotions he visualized previously, turn into material objects.

giving an explanation for the beginning of our story, where the main character is an actual puppet, to how his world has obtained this deeper, tridimensional look.

Now, as in the new animatic version below, we replaced this environment with a simpler one, still to be built as a stop motion material scene, still with clouds and bright enivronment, but without all the elements present in the picture above.

Instead of those we will have the main character walking and interacting with the same paticle visible at the beginning of the short, in the ospital room, which will turn him and his world into a “more real world”

Main character

The character we decided to use is a middle age/ elderly man.

We tried to design a serious look, from a person who takes life seriously, believes in the importance of society and having a stable job. Basically somebody who relays on classic, widely accepted values.

We thought we needed that to create contrast with the visions and revelation he was going to experience in this film.

he started looking very serious but later on we decided to characterize his facial features a little more and ended up this way

And this is the transformation he went through

His name is Robert.


These are the first and second versions of animated storyboards we got to.

Here is when we tought of introducing stop motion puppet at the beginning of the story and going back in a flashback form to explain how the experience he had gave him a new perspective (materials meaning a deeper perception if we want) about life.


Developing the story

As I mentioned in the previous post, our aim was to emphasize how a commonly seen negative experience, as physical or mental disease, can turn later on in a widened perception of a person’s reality.

To start, we broke down the story to find where its core was, and we tought of finding a way to separate the bad experience from the visions. A possible solution was to show this with the rythm of the story; starting by giving more time to the normal perception to describe character and location, increasing gradually the distortions lenght to show the alienation taking over.

Here a few notes we wrote to pin down the process:

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Regarding the left emisphere’s stroke symptoms, we did some research, other than referring to those described in Dr.Taylor’s talk,  and saw that they often occur in this order:

  • Headache
  • Difficulty in moving body parts
  • Inability to read or recognize simbols (as one apparently completely forgets them)
  • Limbs paralysis
  • Inability to speak or understand language

So we inserted all of them in the story, more or less in that order, alternating those with several hallucinations, due to the right brain’s activity taking over,and relating the visions to the occurring symptom.

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Finding an idea

Since of a good mutual understanding with my classmate Jiani Zhao we were thinking for quite a long time to cooperate on the final project, so at last we started working together.

It took a few weeks of research and brainstorming to find an idea that both of us would agree on. We found that when we watched a Ted talk, Jiani had seen long ago, My Stroke of insight, who gave us the right inspiration to start thinking of an animated transposition.


The talk tells the story of the brain scientist, Dr. Jill bBolte Taylor, waking up one morning, with an emorragic stroke in her left brain’s emisphere.

We tried to contact Dr. Taylor’s attourney and enquire on the possibilty to create a short film inspired to her experience, and we discovered that she had sold the right’s of the book, My Stroke of insight, to a Film production company. We contacted them as well, but unfortunately, after an initial encouraging response, they decided to disappear, leaving us with no answer.

This would of course not stop us from taking the positive message contained in the talk and putting a different character in a similar situation, to be able to tell the story we wanted to tell anyways.

More than focusing on the traumatic experience of the stroke, we found the relation between struggling on a physical problem and the new perception one can gain, in a certain way, thanks to the suffering, very interesting, so we started thinking in that direction.