Next Flight Home is a short film about the journey of realizing what the important things in this world are. The story follows a pigeon as he goes about his daily life. At the beginning of the story, he has everything a pigeon could ever want - food all around the city, a cozy pigeon apartment, and pigeon friends to poop with. However, one day he meets a dove while eating pizza, and things quickly change for him. He realizes that being with the dove brings him more joy than he has felt in a long while. But, as they go to fly away, the pigeon holds back and goes back to his friends, unwilling to so quickly give up the life he has built for himself - the food, the friends, the apartment. After making this decision, he begins to realize the monotony of his daily routine. Everything is the same, day to day, and he grasps the importance and energy that the dove brought to his life. Then, he gets the idea to return to the place where they met. As he returns to the pizza slice they both shared, he looks around hopefully before the dove makes a return. They quickly reconnect, and without a second thought this time, the pigeon flies off with her, away from the city, to begin his new life. Please enjoy, Next Flight Home.
As is the case with any story, it is much easier to tell when it has relevance to the creator. And for this story, it is a direct reflection of the last year of my life. In December of 2017, while living in Lyon, I met my girlfriend on a train. We had a very short time together, less than a month, but it was overwhelmingly good. However, I wasn't quite ready to give up the life that I had built up for myself, and decided to head to Dublin, and ultimately back to Seattle. After a short time, I began to reflect on how much I missed our time together and the joy that she brought to my life. Less than a year later, when we met for a second time, I was adamant to not make the same mistake again. I decided to move out of Seattle and join her in Canada, leaving the city and flying to the mountains. Making this piece acted as a sort of therapy for me during the time of transition. Leaving a city that you love, and friends that make it home is never an easy transition. However, pouring those emotions into a short film about two birds ended up being much more productive than gazing out at the Puget Sound wondering endlessly if I was making the right choice. At the time of writing, I am not sure what the future holds for the the pigeon and the dove, but the choice to be together was undoubtedly the right one.
Below, you will find a series of breakdowns showcasing the work that went into making this piece - the development of the story, the design of the characters, the simulations and procedural systems, and more. Projects like this are a fun way to showcase the variety of tools and techniques that I get to use on a daily basis, and I hope that you enjoy seeing the process I used to bring this piece to life.
Below are a few of the initial character tests that I created. In the early tests, the characters did not have wings, and the mouth could not open. Through the initial exploration, I was able to identify what additional controls that I needed to incorporate in order to give the characters the full range of emotions and actions that I needed to communicate the story.
I want to thank all of the friends and colleagues that gave me feedback, advice, and encouragement while I was working on this film. The additional input into the story and edit truly helped to make this film better than I could have made in isolation. On top of that, I want to thank my friend Jordan Ruiz for taking this animation to a whole new level. I originally planned on using stock music for the film, and instead, Jordan composed something that not only fit with the animation, but elevated the emotion and impact that it has. And lastly, I would like to thank my girlfriend Phoebe, who alongside being the inspiration for this film, put up with me working on a surprise project for two months without showing her anything.
Below you can find some still frames taken from the final video. Thank you for spending some time to view my short film, Next Flight Home.