Not on the List is a stylized 2.5D animated short where two strangers work together to solve a surreal mystery in a bizarre nightclub.
Not on the List is a film by Rhythmic Renders, as part of the Senior Capstone Project for Drexel University’s Animation and Visual Effects Program, class of 2021. I served as technical director(pipeline scripting, rigging, look development, crowd work, rendering), character and prop modeler, compositor and editor.
The Character art and the Environment concepts were highly stylized and so we understood that we wanted to be incorporate a 2.5D look that you very rarely see in the standard 3D medium. Major inspirations for the aesthetics was borrowed from the anime medium and more recently, Into the Spider verse. From a compositional viewpoint, our primary visual inspirations was Edgar Wright and Hiroyuki Imaishi; their esoteric cinematography palette felt best suited to the hyperstylized, surrealistic setting of our short.
We decided that to accommodate for the fact that we did not have motion blur and for the aesthetic of the project, we decided to incorporate post chromatic aberration in each of our frames. This was done mainly by adjusting the Red and Blue Channels separately in Nuke.
The post processing aspect of the project was perhaps as important as the 3D aspect. We manually had to introduce Depth of Field using Depth passes within Arnolds AOV system. To keep the toon look vibrant, thanks to the aiToon system of Arnold, we also hand-painted Toon lines on our characters.
As we were heavily inspired by the anime medium, I knew we wanted to incorporate a 2D facial rig into our 3D rig solutions. The key was to incorporate the hand-drawn expressions of our characters blending with the toon lines created by the Arnold Engine. Each expression has its alpha information stored within them, so that when rendered, they only render the expression contained within the hand-drawn toon lines. The rig system is driven by planes with an aiSurface on them, working on multiple switches for the animators to jump between expressive poses, while the pupil retains X and Y Translation and Scalability, to further convey an immersive yet stylized performance. Due to the fact that the lip poses were key poses of each expression, we decided not to have too many in-between poses for our mouth expressions, to keep our lip flaps feel like they were animated on 2s and feel more like an anime-esque aesthetic.
I also worked as an editor and 2D graphics specialist. Most of our editing was done in After Effects and that worked perfectly for us to incorporate 2D effects as well. I also designed and animated the official logo animation of the short.
Here are some stills from the short