September 4, 2008

‘Butterfly’ was my first commissioned short animated film, made in 2002 for the Irish Film Board.

It was made using Lightwave 3d, Xfrog and After Effects (and little bit of cine 8mm), long before my current direction using the Processing language. But at the time I was exploring what kind of art and films I wanted to make as a computer animator.

‘Butterfly’ took me a full and passionate 10 months to complete. Half of this time was spent tearing up storyboards until I gave up all together in trying to script a logical narrative and followed my more sub-conscious feeling of what the film should be.

What the film was ‘about’ relates to how I came up with the initial idea, which started as a simple thought experiment. As a freelance graphic/web designer at that time, I was always in a position of having to ‘think’ up ideas quickly, with not much time, and get it realised into the computer.

What bothered me about this kind of process was that I always seemed to be forcing ideas into my ahead, begging for them to materialise, or logically trying to construct an idea based on lots of other busy thoughts.  So one day I decided to just stop thinking all together and allow my mind to settle, and allow any creative thought to appear by itself, without force, without expectation.

It was a thought experiment, and for a while it looked nothing was going to happen, but then, literally out of nowhere I saw the image of a butterfly appear from the darkness of my ’empty’ mind and fly out from my head and disappear. This all happened in an instant moment, and fascinated me, that by stopping the thoughts and mind movement, creative ideas of much more original nature can still manifest.

It was the nature of this experiment that became the nature of how I made the film over the 10 months, following my intuition, not trying to think about what was going on, but approaching it like meditation, with an open mind, not trying to control things.

Butterfly went on to win me several awards, screened at more than 30 international film festivals, was a British Animation Awards finalist, and drew me to the attention of London agencies whom I’ve been working with since.

In my new direction with Processing, I now see ‘Butterfly’ not just as my first film, but now more of an extended project in exploring these ideas that connect the mind, computer art and sound.

You can view the film on Vimeo below.

4 Responses to “Butterfly”

  1. […] I got a taste of cinematic animation and film making, and inspired me to take the next natural step, to conceive and direct my own films, the first of which was ‘Butterfly’, the mini story behind this is here. […]

  2. shaman4d said

    Cool movie. Did you used some script system in LightWave?

  3. Yeah I used some noise effectors on the camera position to create random movement.

  4. […] first short film, commissioned by the Irish Film Board in 2002, which made rounds at film fests (blog post) The Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus (4:45) a short animated guide to Buddhist breath meditation, […]

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