Framestore’s Design Studio has proudly created ‘Coalesce’, the opening film for OFFF Barcelona 2023. Now in its 22nd edition, the festival is the largest showcase of contemporary visual creativity and design, attracting attendees from all over the world.
Led by Art Director Chris Friesen and Creative Directors Jake Cuddihy, Lawrence Jones, Brian Drucker and Timothy Williams, Framestore was given an open brief and creative freedom by Hector Ayuso, the pioneering Founder of the festival.
The original concept was created by Friesen and developed jointly by the Creative Directors, revolving around the idea of lots of different people/things/worlds coming together to make something beautiful. “The tagline of the festival ‘Made for the Curious’ really guided us. We felt it was key to celebrate the process we all go through to find something special and out of the ordinary” says Cuddihy.
With collaboration at the heart of the project, it was important to bring together different artistic styles and disciplines so the team could explore what would excite and inspire them. Throughout the process a secondary theme of letting go of control to let creativity thrive was also developed.
“Our main character is ‘The Curious’. She’s a hard worker, striving to unlock something unique and beautiful by forcing one world onto another. Frustrated by her lack of progress, we witness a big release of pressure through an emotional outburst that leads to a breakthrough. She realizes she has been going about it all wrong by trying to control the results and not listening to the artwork. When she brings the two worlds together, she finds they will play in parallel. This leads to a stunning finale where we see that everything is connected” explains Cuddihy.
Following initial concepting and pre-production planning, live action footage was captured to help tell the story. The shoot was planned and executed at Framestore’s LA Studio, supported by a team of camera/lighting crew members and production designers.
The post-production process kicked off with Williams leading the edit, and each of the Creative Directors taking ownership of designing one of the 5 main worlds- creating an opening and closing shot for each. The film offered a great opportunity to push the existing design pipeline which had been in development before the project began.
“With 5 Creative Directors working together we used Milanote which allowed us to work on the outlines, create story ideas, mood boards.. and was a great way for us to share everything” says Drucker. “We had multiple conversations about imagery, style, how we wanted the lab and the animations to interact and how to bring them together. We had a very iterative process, going over things until we landed on a place where we all agreed. Like our main character, we needed to try new things and get out of our comfort zones to find common ground” he explains.
Liquid Light is a stunning key sequence that is used as a connective piece between the lab and the slides. The initial style frames were completed in Cinema 4D, before being animated in Houdini and added to the environment. Houdini and Vellum were used to run soft body simulation of the bubbles and the finishing was handled in Nuke, making it easier to manage the integration of the live action elements.
Pushing the collaboration even further, all of Framestore’s US based designers were invited to contribute artwork for the film. They were provided with the same open brief, and tasked with creating something that would excite and inspire them using any style or technique of their choice.
Where possible, the team wanted to leverage as much as they could from Framestore’s VFX arm. “In terms of ideology and workflow there’s a lot of great tools and processes that we wanted to utilize whilst keeping a flexible environment for our Designers” says Friesen.
Yessian Music produced the score, sound design and mix, and the film was graded by Dominic Phipps at Framestore sister company, Company 3.
“It’s been a huge privilege to create this Opening Film, and we would like to thank Hector for the opportunity. Connecting our different artists, styles and ideas together has resulted in a unique piece of work that has encouraged us to push boundaries and really challenge ourselves”. Cuddihy concludes.