I remember putting on my headphones, listening to the audio for the first time, and feeling completely blanketed in emotion. Sh'maya's voice is so soulful, so full of hidden layers. His poetic performance combined with the score by Ryan Taubert completely sold me. We couldn't turn it down.
Tyler and I caveated that we needed to really take our time, though. We didn't want to completely sacrifice our lives to make this happen. We wanted to successfully create a short film without stressing too much. While there was definitely stress involved, we took tons of breaks and Dan was super, super kind and patient. Honestly, it's been a complete dream to work with him. We couldn't have asked for a better passion project to pour our souls into. It was extremely open in terms of style and timeline, but there was already a base concept and a "client" (per se) to please: the perfect balance of structure and flexibility.
Tyler and I were excited to work on a more serious, important piece. We started slowly, gathering reference and storyboarding based on the VO. Dan wanted it to be pretty abstract, but he also wanted people to be able to relate themselves to it; to put themselves in the protagonist's place. Here's one of our original storyboard PDFs. It's funny looking back - so much has changed since that initial phase.
From there, we designed. Both of us designed. We decided that even though Tyler is an "animator" by profession and I am a "designer," we wanted to challenge ourselves and work on all aspects of Cocoon together. Then we both animated. And Defacto did the amazing sound.
We took tons of breaks and vacations. When work (full-time jobs!) and life got too crazy, we didn't worry about Cocoon. All in all, it took about 1.5 years for us to complete it. While we did critique and make changes throughout the process, Dan was extremely trusting of our ability. In the end, Tyler and I got to create a piece that we truly loved working on.
Select Design Frames
Our collective original design frames before we put them into animation (and changed a few characters, etc).
Designed by either Sarah Beth or Tyler. Rollover each frame for more details.
Some rough stuff from our process. Animation tests, texturing, characters, etc. Rollover each image for more details.