David Knight - 19th Sept 2011

Céline Desrumaux, one half of animation/direction team Céline & Yann, creators of The Giants animation series and signed to Passion - has now completed this personal project, a gorgeous short film/video, pretty much explained by its title: Countdown.

For all intents, it's a NASA rocket launch, faithfully rendered in a minimal illustrative style, and it's absolutely lovely - with Apparat's Granulard Bastard providing the soundtrack. "I began some sketches in May 2009, and I did all the video on my free time for over a year," Céline explains. "My references are various, from Chris Ware for his extraordinary layout and sometimes abstract images, Hans Richter, Len Lye, Stanley Kubrick and Godfrey Reggio (for his Qatsi trilogy). Apparat's music really inspired me too!

"Technically it was done mainly in Photoshop and After Effects. I used 3D for some shots - and sometimes just the shadow produced by the 3D. In particular, all the particles were done in After Effects. The most difficult part was to stay close to the illustration look and make the image alive even though most of the time there's no character in the image. I really wanted to focus on the rocket as a main character. The astronaut is a kind of the heart of the rocket, the organic part."

She adds that about 30% of the film was based on actual NASA film - mostly the classic 'take-off' footage. "I've watched a lot of video footage from NASA, to help me to see how strong a take off can be. I also have a big folder with a lot of images from the control room in Kennedy Center. But I really wanted to play with the scale of everything - the control room, the rocket, the launch pad, to make it more graphic.

"I wanted to feel that it can be a real taking off (as we have already seen dozen of times on the tv), using stereotypes shots, but at the same time I wanted to propose my own vision of a liftoff. I wanted to have the focus on the rocket and not necessary the astronaut. I wanted that people see how majestic it can be."

Countdown Directing/design/animation/composting : Céline Desrumaux
Additional character animation : Florent Remize
Music : "Granulard bastard" from Apparat

David Knight - 19th Sept 2011

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