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Tartarus | Short Film

Motion Graphics
After Effects
​​​​​​​This short film is the result of a different approach to our creative process we tried for several months during lockdown.
To this day, we haven't discussed thoroughly what this story means to us.

So gaze into TARTARUS, the wandering abyss, and see what images it returns.
The deity Tartarus. The force of conquest and destruction. 
Whatever they want, it will be taken. Because Tartarus sees themselves as the owner of everything, as they despise everything.

Their servants—Titans—are to impose this deity’s limitless will, with no guilt or shame. Without challenging it. It has been like this era after era, since the beginning of time.
Until now, when primordial tears announce the end of the Eternal.
Now go get some psychotropic nachos because some mildly cosmic behind the scenes are coming through.​​​​
It all started with a raging need to let our creative energy take some shape.
We were looking for a project that could challenge our skills and understanding of our own craft at that moment.

There were so many things we wanted to try, both technical and creative, we just couldn't focus. It felt overwhelming at times.

After a couple of days (...or was it weeks?), we had a rough concept that kinda worked.
​​​​​​​It was a simple ident that served as a vehicle for some visual and animation ideas.
We weren't in love with what we came up with, but felt we needed to move forward and learn along the way. We knew we'd have a great piece in the end.

Then Juan Barabani jumped on board bringing his fresh vision, his deep love of art and a collaborative spirit, and things started to get trippy.​​​​​​​
He pitched great ideas to us, which in turn made us rethink and pitch new ideas to him (and to ourselves).
​​​​​​​For several days, this was the process. And our initial narrative concept felt more and more out of place after each new exploration.

These were the first styleframes we had, and there we knew it.
We'd been thinking up images to fit the narrative structure we had, but the art was so powerful that a new narrative drive began to emerge.

What if we fully embraced this? 

We then kept coming up with images without questioning our creative impulses. 
We just let ourselves go, and the journey suddenly went at warp speed.​​​​​​​
Ideas kept flowing naturally, and we took every step following  our instincts. Letting our subconscious fill the narrative gaps and sublimate in the visuals.​​​​​​​
The track "Monk’s Theme, Pt.III (Exit)", by James Holden, helped to set just the right mood.
And then the animatic came naturally, too: a reflexive, tranquil pace that let one dwell on the excruciating amount of little details we would be animating. Also, that rhythm felt cosmic and solemn.
Clocking in at around 2 minutes, with few shots, complex designs and subtle actions, we knew animation had to be challenging but survivable, so we set ourselves up for “traumatizing”.
We then established two rules: 

1- Economize. Animate at the lowest frame rate possible to force us to carefully draw each pose and set the right exposition for each keyframe so as to make the acting  look fluid.

2- Be creative with the animation ideas, but don’t go beyond the tone suggested and inspired by the styleframes. 

Some of our most beloved and talented pals jumped on board to animate some shots, so we threw in a few directions, but we just let them do their thing.

And they killed it. Some bold mofos even animated on 6s. The nerve!
What about the massive floating lava-like spurts and sexy fire tentacles? Those were trickier to animate than we expected. 
We tried generating them using plugins, but they looked too cheap.
The old hand-drawn way was the only way.
We knew comp was going to be heavy, with lots of layers, glow, defocus, gradients, and all the usual cosmic stuff. So we had to carefully plan the workflow.

How ‘bout some sweet 4k resolution, extra wide frame huh?!
More pain, more gain.
One tricky part was the orb morphing into its angry mood.
The base texture was animated using After Effects, then imported into Animate, where frame-by-frame adjustments were made.Those adjustments were then reimported into After Effects.
At the end, this is what the layer with the tweaks looked like.
We’ll leave you a nice art dump and call it a day.
Thanks for reading us!
Created and directed by

Creative direction
Mariano Fernández Russo

Art direction & Illustrations
Juan Barabani

Executive Production
Ana Sieglitz / Juliana Millán

Line Production
Carolina Cantero

Animation direction & Animatic
Mariano Fernández Russo

2D animation
Emmanuel Zampalo / Fernando Lamattina / Franco Pelliciaro / Katherine Pryor / Mariano Fernández Russo / Maricel Piazza / Martín Lara 

Clean up 
Alan Mohamed / Gabriela Bosco / Sofía Díaz

Mariano Fernández Russo

Additional comp
Yago López

Music by PAN
Victoria Baraga & Juan Barabani

Audio Post Production
Fede Vilas

Behind the Scenes Edition 
Juan Raimondi

Behind the Scenes Production 
Laura Casadiego

Lucía Vitelleschi

Branding designer
Paula Domínguez

Production finance
Eleonora Villa

Special Thanks
Victoria Pezzoli / Eloy Fernández Pezzoli/ Ignacio de Asúa / Tomás de Asúa Millán / Chloe Maratz / Miumiu Rodríguez / Martín Roma / Dante Millán

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Tartarus | Short Film