Earlier this year Passion Pictures was approached by Unity the games engine developers to partner with them to create a CG animated short film. Using the new Unity 4.0 software and highlighting its real time rendering capabilities the creative brief was to create a fresh looking film unlike anything that the games industry was currently producing.
From a number of treatments Unity chose to make The Butterfly Effect which was written and directed by Dan Sumich. The film is a homage to classic action films from the 1970s through to the 1990s, with a soundtrack by the legendary heavy metal vocalist Steve Grimmett. An ordinary looking guy wakes up one morning feeling the worse for wear and realises he’s run out of milk. As he drags himself out of the house to go and buy some, an extraordinary sequence of events draws him into a journey of mayhem on the streets of San Francisco.
View the film below:
Director Dan Sumich says: “My inspiration for the film came from my love of action films, and explosions. The staring point was thinking of what’s the most boring and annoying situation someone might have to deal with, such as running out of milk when you have a hangover on a Monday morning and having to go to the shop to get some more. That’s annoying and boring. Then I thought about what would make this worse, and so the narrative for the film started to take shape. My hope was to entertain people, which I hope I did, and to have the viewer feel like their brain had been put through a blender and to make them think ‘what the hell?!’”
Making The Butterfly Effect involved considerable challenges for the animation team at Passion Pictures. It was the first time that the crew had used Unity 4.0, which was still in development as the film was being made. We worked very closely with the developers at Unity to modify the software tools to produce the best possible animation, effects and rendering for the film. Motion capture was used as a base for a large percentage of the character animation, which enabled the team to get through over 200 shots that were required in the film. The motion capture was shot at Centroid with actor Jonny Freeman.
Sumich adds: “Another Interesting part for me was working with the legendary heavy metal vocalist Steve Grimmett and watching as he sculpted the bespoke track “Outta Control” for the film. The track helped a lot to drive the film and give it the late 70s early 80s vibe I was after. Very cool.”
The film was launched at Siggraph 2012 and since then has had over 90,000 views on Vimeo.
Client: Unity Technologies
Product: Unity 4.0
Production Company: Passion Pictures
Director: Dan Sumich
Producer: Ryan Goodwin-Smith
Exec Producers: Hugo Sands, Michael Adamo
Sound Design: Sam Ashwell, 750mph
Motion Capture: Centroid
Music: 'Outta Control' by Steve Grimmett, Dave Newby