Even if it had been created by an establish production company with an army of animators at their disposal, the relentless race through evolution which unfolds in Speakman Sound’s sumptuous Babamimoun music video would undoubtedly be an impressive achievement. The fact that it was crafted single-handedly over the course a year and a half by London-based 3D artist Eidy Knowles is astounding! A film which holds clear parallels with our own looming climate crisis, we hand things over to Knowles to discover how her love of old sci-fi films and B movies inspired Babamimoun’s epic visuals.
I have always wanted to make a short fantasy sci-fi animation since I was very young, unsure about what medium to use I spent time experimenting with different formats as I grew up. I forgot all about the desire for a while as life got in the way, however after first finding, studying and eventually working in 3D for a few years I realised that perhaps I could give it another go. The tools have improved so vastly over the years in terms of 3D software and computing power, it has allowed a new breed of 3D short filmmaker to rise, one who can produce everything themselves all inside the computer.
After a stint in the industry I decided to go freelance, to take advantage of these new tools and techniques, and so Babamimoun was born! The environmental theme came naturally to me for the project as it’s something I feel very strongly about, especially with current events being so polarised. However, I didn’t want it to be factual, rather, I wanted it to be based in fantasy, to allow people to have fun with it and perhaps to view the problems of the world through a different lens.
I started off by writing a script outlining the story, gathering reference images together to get a feel for the environment. Then I storyboarded a sequence of timed scenes to the music, with a series of rough sketches for each shot. Rough viewport previews were used for previsualisation and locking down the edit.
When I was young I used to watch lots of old sci-fi films, B movies and classics. These inspired me to chase the visual characteristics of a widescreen anamorphic 35mm film camera, of course, because the whole thing was going to be 3D it meant it had to be emulated inside compositing which was a fun challenge. I have always liked stylised 3D and stop motion films and so after experimenting with a more realistic style in my previous music video, I decided to expand my horizons with a painterly look. Hoping to allow the viewer to let go of reality a bit more and enjoy the fantasy world shown.
Throughout the whole film, the contrasting colours blue and yellow are used to represent the two conflicting forces of man and nature and the fight to find a balance between them, personified by the yellow and blue grains in the hourglass falling down.
The film was created over a year and a half period using two machines, one for rendering and one as my main workstation. I also used a couple of Kinect cameras alongside iPiSoft to create custom motion capture for some scenes. In terms of software I used Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini, Nuke, Redshift, Topaz Studio, Photoshop, Gaea, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Prism Pipeline and DaVinci Resolve.
I built up a lot of the scenes’ visual detail using various modelling techniques and some kitbash assets. Then I did FX simulations, after which everything was rendered and composited. The final stage was bringing everything back into the edit and applying final colour grading and adding sound design from Patrick Lee at Speaking Sound Ltd.