Work-Page-The Night Goes Pop

The Night Goes 'PoP'

Commission for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Fine Art

While working at Hint, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Fine Art commissioned a unique experience for guests attending their annual gala.  One that would explore the theme of the evening: Pop art.  

Our small team tailored a story of a single, personified red zipitone. It's ripped from it's Lichtenstein painting, and thrust deep into the world of Pop.  Exploring Rosenquist, Warhol, and others, the tiny dot travels down the rabbit hole, trying to fit in, and trying to get home.


Animation Direction
Key Animator

The project was largely crafted by myself and my co-animator, Jeremy Casper.  It was written and produced by my creative director Travis Schlitter.  We worked very closely with Noel Selders at Substream Music + Sound Design early in the process for the audio.

Re-imagination of  Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks  by Claes Oldenburg

Re-imagination of Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks by Claes Oldenburg


We played out our fable as a triptych.  In the center screen lived the bulk of the narrative. (the video you see above). On the two wings of the triptych, we had mirroring animations that complimented the main story.  These served to add an immersive quality to the night - surrounding the viewers within our world.

The audio was brilliantly crafted by Noel Selders.  He worked nearly the full length of production, designing a deep and cinematic soundtrack with sound design that carried the emotional weight of the zipitone. Having a character driven narrative without dialogue, the sound design was imperitive to fill the gaps.

The entire project was one large master-study. All the featured work either needed to be dissected of their parts, or rebuilt with whatever means.  In some cases, they needed to be completely reimagined altogether.

To pull off the styles and texture of the era, we implemented a myriad of techniques and even created some inventive tools.  One such tool allowed us to believably recreate Jasper Johns' viscous paint style in After Effects in a completely procedural way.

Using Particular, we were able to create and rig our main character, the Zipitone.  This rig responded to speed and direction, creating a lively creature to tell our story.

Re-Imagination of While the Earth revolves at night by - James Rosenquist

Re-Imagination of While the Earth revolves at night by - James Rosenquist

Panoramic view of the space.  Obstructed sightlines added a challenge to telling a dialogue-free narrative.
The far wall had the major narrative, and the two side running walls had supporting animation to completely immerse the viewer.

The runtime of the piece is just under 5:20. And with only about a month to completion. Jeremy and I hit the ground running. Researching the artwork of the pop masters, choosing the work that would best fit our narrative and then we began piecing together everything through some storyboards. Jeremy tackled those mainly, meanwhile, I began RnD on a few of the techniques we would need to develop.   

This synthetic texture was made in After effects to recreate the aesthetic of animated dry-brush.

This synthetic texture was made in After effects to recreate the aesthetic of animated dry-brush.

Jeremy and I took complete ownership of our tasked scenes. Individually, we would animate every pixel including the characters that lived within that period of time.  We had discussions describing the character of the zipitone, so it would keep the same personality as it passed between the hands of the animators.  We somewhat leapfrogged scenes too, animating until a logical break in the scene.  This allowed us to mentally step into a new part of the animation periodically, which helped trick us into believing huge strides were being made.

We also took turns working on the side wall animation. These animations were directly taken from moments of the main story.  They served to either extend the scene, or specifically bring attention to the main storyline.

The project used nearly every hour of production, and the days leading up to the deadline.  I think I lived at the studio for three of the four weeks.  Testing took place the night before, and I had to make a series of adjustments, animate the ending, and render the final within the 24 hours leading up the the event itself.  I was not able to attend, but I heard that it was well received.  Hint made an overview video that ends with probably the greatest reaction I've ever seen from an audience member.  So I'm certainly happy.