The Approximate Present

My graduation project at the University of the Arts Bremen in 2014.

A short animated film about the weather – inspired and informed by chaos theory and Lorenz attractors, romantic landscape paintings and the minimalist polygonal look of early computer simulations.

Music: Origamibiro – Flicker (origamibiro.com)
Watching in fullscreen is recommended!

From inception to completion, making “The Approximate Present” took me about one and a half months of full-time work.

The idea that emerged from the premise to make an animated short about the weather was rather simple: using the basic notion of chaos theory (the slightest variation in initial conditions will eventually lead to an unpredictably different outcome) as a narrative structure.

For the film’s look, I knew from the outset that I wanted it to be stylized, minimal and solid (for lack of a better term), somewhat reminiscent of early flight simulators. At the same time, I strived to convey a certain sense of place and emotion, drawing inspiration from my own experiences of various weather phenomena. The way different weather conditions can completely change the appearance and mood of a landscape has always held great fascination for me – a fascination I tried to express through the film’s images as good as I could. That’s why I spent a lot of time on the lighting, colors and post-processing. For reference, I looked at romantic paintings of landscapes and dramatic, overly saturated skies and clouds, for instance those of british painter William Turner.

Finding the right music to go with the images I envisioned was another important part of making “The Approximate Present”. After listening to what must have been hundreds of tracks, I came upon “Flicker” by Origamibiro (which they generously share on freemusicarchive.org). I immediately knew I had found the right track. Besides being a simply beautiful piece, I think it matches, or even mirrors the film’s structure really well.

For modeling and animating, I used Cinema 4D, and After Effects for additional animation, editing, color grading and post-processing. A bit of Processing was also involved in the visualization of the Lorenz attractors – the butterfly-shaped lines.

Cast: Filippo Baraccani

Tags: weather, animation, 3d, edward lorenz, lorenz attractor, butterfly effect, stylized, short film, consequences, atmospheric, rain, snow, sun, wind, storm, initial conditions, chaos theory, animated and low poly

Vimeo / Pixel Animation