A few months ago Substance founder, Scott Geersen talked to us about the daunting task of representing the concept of humankind in their impressive TEDxSydney title sequence. Clearly a company which thrives on a conceptual challenge, the Sydney based studio recently turned their considerable skills to conveying the iterative voyage all creators embark on in cinematic title sequence Explore, Connect, Create for motion design festival Node Fest. DN invited Substance to reveal how they weaved together this sci-fi expression of the creative journey.

Here in Australia, we don’t have a lot of motion design festivals – well, none really! So when Node started a few years ago, focused on the AU/NZ industry, it was a godsend for us all. Substance Director Scott Geersen was actually one of the speakers at the first Nodefest in 2016! We were excited to be involved again for 2018, with the opportunity to create titles. For us, “nodes” and Nodefest are about connection – with ideas, techniques, and with other motion artists. It inspires us to explore a wider view of motion design, both in our own practice and with regard to our place in the design industries.

With this in mind, we developed the tagline: “Explore, Connect, Create” as a reflection of Node’s key ideas and a directive that could resonate with all creatives. All our decisions grew from this foundation. So much so in fact, that it became the scaffold of our narrative. To explore we needed an Explorer and a strangely familiar world through which to travel. The connections made on this journey would cause changes that ultimately inform and empower the act of creation. So goes the creative process for us all.

For us, “nodes” and Nodefest are about connection – with ideas, techniques, and with other motion artists.

Pre-production for the titles comprised of R&D to work out what could be achieved in a short timeline, while simultaneously developing storyboards and an animatic. The detailed animatic allowed us to be economical with our builds for each shot or scene, and also gave us something that our audio partners Echoic could begin composing to.

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The Explorer was designed to be an ambiguous figure – obviously robotically augmented, but also unidentified under the digitally camouflaged hood and cloak. Similarly, the motives and ultimate outcome (including the mysterious machine) were left mainly up to the viewer’s imagination. Hints are given, but nothing fully revealed. The next step is, after all… up to us!

Explore, Connect, Create is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.

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