Gorillaz Spirit House [Scribble Kibble #63]

Gorillaz Spirit House [Scribble Kibble #63]

November 15, 2019 100 By William Hollis


Welcome to Scribble Kibble, an animation show
about how animations are made. I’m going to dig into my animation pile
for something that will make an easy, straightforward episode. Maybe something 3D? Like 3D is ever straightforward. Oh I know, Gorillaz Spirit House. That’s 3D, I think. Let’s do that one. Check the link below. Wait! Wait. Wait. I’m going to give you the link to the 360
version. If you’re watching on your phone, hold your
phone up and turn around to look around the environment. On a computer, click and drag around on the
video screen or use WASD keys. Or put on your VR headset. Go! Now, satisfy my curiosity. Did you try to stay focused on the characters,
or did you end up looking around at everything else? I stared at the sky for the last minute to
see if anything happened. If you found your eyes wandering, that is
the major problem with animating movies in 360, let alone Virtual Reality. How do you keep people watching the story? Ha! Trick question, you can’t. You can’t force someone to stay focused
in a true free-to-wander environment. For that reason, traditional storytelling
doesn’t work. Watch the regular version of Spirit House
and it’s a completely different experience than the 360 version. There’s a level of editorial control in
the flat version that you won’t get in the 360, just like there are fully rotational
spaces you can look around in 360 that you don’t see in the flat version. I mean, geeze, in the 360 version you might
not see the first minute of the animation because you end up looking around the train
car you’re stuck in. Is one better than the other? Not really. They’re just different. See, the 360 version is designed so that even
if you do wander, you still get the magical trippy music video experience. Especially in the asteroid field. You can enjoy the music and watch those fruity
pebble rocks float by. Like almost every other Gorillaz animated
music video, everything about Spirit House is superb. Both the 2D and 3D animations are top quality. The textures on the 3D environments could
fool you into thinking this is a stop motion set. Look at this. Looks like tiny little props made in the real
world. And the set artists couldn’t just do whatever
they wanted – their art had to fit inside the limitations of Google Spotlight to look
good in 360 YouTube. All this pizazz comes with a price tag, though. 800,000 dollars. Woo! One particularly interesting thing to me is
how the snake monster’s mouth appears to be a movie clip projected onto the 3D model. In other words, an animated texture. The flat, violently ugly mouth is pretty horrifying. There’s at least one scene where the 2D
animated characters clip through the 3D characters. Whoops. This is probably the 3D character animator
wanting to keep the monster centered in the shot and look like it’s shouting in Russel’s
face. The clipping would go away if the 3D model
were moved up a bit. You’re trying to keep a 2D piece of paper
art with fake depth from intersecting something with real depth. It’s a fun dance of planning, layer stacking,
and masking. If you’re thinking of making a YouTube 360
video yourself, this is what you do. Either buy a camera that can record in 360,
or get software to stitch together videos to make a 360 degree setting. Then, download a YouTube application that
will apply metadata to the video to enable 360 degree compatibility. Upload it. It sounds deceptively simple. There’s plenty of bad or mediocre 360 videos,
where you can see the seams where videos were stitched together, or where the depth of field
sucks and you feel more like you are looking at a ring of video that surrounds you, rather
than standing in the environment itself. For 360 animations, you need to design them
in 3D. In Spirit House, the 2D characters are placed
inside a 3D program. The artists could have also drawn the 2D surfaces
for everything in the backgrounds, and set those drawings up in the 3D environment to
create an animation that would stylistically look like it was pure 2D. No matter what style you’re using, in the
end everything has to go through a 3D program. Otherwise the 360 video will look like a cylindrical, but flat, painting.