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Richard Branson Shares Near Death Experience Across the Pacific Ocean in Latest Animated Short

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Paper Sky Films continues Virgin’s ‘Adventure Series’

Richard Branson Shares Near Death Experience Across the Pacific Ocean in Latest Animated Short

Richard Branson continues his weekly releases of animated short stories as part of his ‘Adventure Series’, produced by Paper Sky Films, with his fourth addition: “Ballooning Across the Pacific.”

In 1991, Branson and his long-time ballooning buddy Per Lindstrand, embarked on their second ballooning odyssey, with the intention of flying from Japan to California. But their record-breaking journey didn’t quite go according to plan… 

Paper Sky Films teamed up with Virgin in 2021 to create twelve animated short films, each telling individual stories following Richard Branson’s adventures.

“Looking back on my ballooning expedition across the Pacific Ocean… I said I’d never try to break another hot-air balloon record again,” Branson writes in the accompanying blog, where the animations are featured. 

“But I’m easily persuaded when it comes to new adventures.”

Setting a distance record of 6,700 miles, it took Richard and Per 48 hours altogether to fly from Japan to Canada. The pair broke the previous hot air balloon distance record of 3,072 miles, set during their Atlantic crossing in 1987 (which, was also told through an animated short film, released a few weeks ago.)

“Ballooning Across the Pacific was a tricky one,” producer and director Adam Young explains. 

“Almost the entire story takes place within the gondola of the hot air balloon, where Richard and Per were more or less confined within this tiny space for most of the duration.” 

Told with a mixture of traditional 2D animation and stylised ‘diagram’ artwork, the Paper Sky Films team found a creative way of telling the story where their options to show what was happening felt somewhat limited. 

“We needed a way to show audiences what a ‘jetstream’ actually is,” Adam continues. 

“For those who don’t know - the best way I can describe it - a jetstream is a current of air that an aircraft reaches after a certain measure of altitude, which Richard and Per intended to use as a means of carrying the hot air balloon from point-A to point-B in record time. Sort of like a surfer riding a tidal wave.” 

“We knew we had to visually explain what that was for audiences, otherwise they’d be totally lost. Also, the jetstream is basically a ribbon of air that’s invisible, so we also had to come up with a way to display that in a way which was consistent with the film’s style and design.”

Researching old sketches, designs, blueprints, posters, brochures and pamphlets from the early late 19th century that promoted or showcased aeronauts and aerodynamics, animator Monica Scanlan found a way to show what was going on outside the balloon and maintained a sense of visual rhythm throughout the film by using a sepia-style art design. 

“I loved what Monica did that with, I thought it was so inspired!” says Adam. “As soon as she showed me what she had in mind, it made so much sense to take that route.” 

The journey itself turned into a near death experience for Richard and Per, despite the journey going beyond their intended destination - landing in Canada instead of California, after being catapulted by an arctic storm - the story is one of the darker tales from Richard Branson’s ‘Adventure Series,’ which challenged Paper Sky Films to strike a balance between the sense of doom whilst keeping true to the themes of adventure and excitement.

“Disaster struck before we even took flight, and there were multiple points where I thought we wouldn’t make it,” Richard writes.

“It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but we finally made it to land… just 1000 miles off target!” This was definitely a case of, ‘it’s more about the journey than the destination!’”

The next Paper Sky Films-produced animated short film for Richard Branson will be released on Monday, 28th of February. 

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Genres: Animation, Storytelling

Categories: Travel, Airlines

Paper Sky Films, Wed, 23 Feb 2022 14:04:47 GMT