Mekanism Takes Roadtrip For Ann Arbor Film Festival

Mekanism director Michael Langan created a brilliant promo for the 48th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, held recently at the end of March 2010. The spot was created in slow motion and illustrates … literally …. how the world revolves around film. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest running independent and experimental film festival in the world.

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Mekanism have created a ‘making of’ video which explains, in Michael Langan’s own words, the detailed production process for this vivid and fun animation. Langan’s initial idea was to create three separate rows of scenery, with the items in the back row built smaller to look further away, whilst moving past the camera more slowly than those in the front. The process then evolved into taking the scenery onto three cylinders, as a circle creates a seamless loop which is easier to animate. Michael then had the inspired idea to create the core of the cylinders from a stack of giant movie reels – showing that figuratively, the world revolves around film. To hold all in place, a wooden support structure was built with bike wheels mounted on to a steel dowel, and then the wheels were wrapped in chicken wire to create a base. The road, countryside and general terrain were created from crumpled newspapers, plaster soaked paper towels and a collage of green foam, dirt and lichen.

The building designs were mostly lifted from pictures from the internet, then photoshopped into foldable printable cut-outs, mounted on chipboard and then painted. A projective geometry trick was used to create the titles, whereby the cut-out letters are skewed if you look at them straight on but appear correct from a different angle. A piece of foam core was held in the position on the set viewpoint that the letters would eventually hang from. A photograph was taken and the letters were positioned onto the foam core in the computer. The letters were then stretched out digitally to the same dimensions of the actual foam core sheet. The stretched letters were then printed out, mounted and then hung with fishing line in the exact place that the foam core square had originally been placed. The total shoot took 6 hours and included 800 slow motion burpees through the set. The majority of the effects were created in camera with little post production work required, although Langan did shoot a girl on green screen to sit within the travelling car. The sound track is a song called Campfire by Starling Electric, a group that hails from Ann Arbor.

Mekanism is a San Francisco and New York based creative production studio, housing film, animation and digital content creators. We sprinkle our love of good storytelling on viral campaigns, commercials and branded entertainment to inspire measurable brand loyalty.

About Ann Arbor Film Festival: The Ann Arbor Film Festival is internationally recognized as a premiere showcase for creative, inspiring, and influential films of all types: avant-garde and experimental, story-based narratives, documentaries, and animation. As the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, the AAFF is steeped in a rich tradition of ground-breaking cinema. Thousands of influential filmmakers have showcased early work at the AAFF, including luminaries such as Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, Lawrence Kasdan, Devo and George Lucas. The 49th Ann Arbor Film Festival will take place March 22-27, 2011 in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Festival will open the call for submissions July 1, 2010. 

Creative Credits

Project: Film Festival Promo
Client: Ann Arbor Film Festival
Creative Studio: Mekanism
Creative Director: Michael Langan



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