Raj Davsi, The Mill
Ideation / Creative Direction / Direction / Production / Design / VFX / Editorial / Colour
“Odd is strange”, “Odd is peculiar”. To celebrate the 5th year anniversary of Forward Festival, their creative team presented an open brief to Mill Director Raj Davsi centered around the ‘odd’ number 5.
Taking inspiration from a rare and majestic creature, Raj and the team set out to craft a technically complex and emotionally stirring film from concept to delivery.
A memorable and captivating title sequence to lead the visuals across a major design festival. Upon launch, the film instantly won a Vimeo Staff Pick as well as an awards for Best Animation at the Berlin Commercial Film festival.
Mill Director Raj Davsi explains ‘I immediately wanted to create a story that celebrates the individuality of being “odd” and how everyone should be proud to be different.
I also feel as artists, we all try to stand out from the crowd and make work that is distinct, which is something we can all connect to.’
The initial focal point was to tell a story about an animal, to use their raw and unfiltered emotions to allow the viewer to build a strong connection with the message of embracing ‘the odd one out.
Raj adds ‘I also wanted to transport them into an ‘odd’ space. I love telling stories through abstract art whilst trying to make an emotional connection with the viewer’.
Having conducted extensive R&D, the team found their inspiration in the black panther. A rare, unique and majestic animal, rarely filmed or seen in the wild. People know they are there but they remain hidden.
The team experimented with various patterns, colours and even feathers for the panther, using inspiration from bird patterns and unusual skin pigmentations to develop the aesthetic, the highlights and contours of the panther’s muscles and facial features were key.
The initial shots featuring the panther sprinting through the forest established the look for the wider environment. The viewer is then transported into abstract worlds where macro cameras were used inside the panther.
Raj’s inspiration for the contrasting scenes came from real world references. The eye scene took inspiration from liquid drops which contained the pattern to give a powerful and iridescent feel. The teeth world was inspired by the Cappadocia Mountains in Turkey, an incredible landscape which bear real similarities to teeth.
Lighting and rendering was used to give the piece a fantastical feel. This meant strong volumetric, 3D fog and a lot of play with lights and shadows. As the panther was black, lighting within a dark environment was a challenge for the team. With minimal diffuse values, only the fur would catch the specular highlights.
The film used multiple disciplinary soft wares and was a real collaboration amongst teams from design through to VFX. Everything was computer generated and carefully considered from the huge epic landscape to how many trees should be in the forest. Every pixel was meticulously designed and needed to be good enough to print.