Crafting a film for planetariums

New media and storytelling are tools that can transport the audience to other worlds, through this immersion we can boost the curiosity and inspire on a higher level. But, what are the opportunities that we should not lose sight of when creating content for immersive media such as planetariums and vr devices?

Cosmonaute 360 is a project by Dessignare Media that explores the use of fulldome content to present an audiovisual narrative proposal for family audiences. In this article we will share some of the learnings obtained by the director of the film, Damné Jesús, and the composer of the original music, Ini Vázquez.

Creating a film for planetariums it’s more than just placing the visual elements in a 360 environment, it’s about inviting your audience to join the adventure and to deliver the promise of an experience. Follow our process for creating a meaningful content!

Defining a concept

This project started as an independent short film whose main purpose was to study and explore the use of audiovisual language in new media and creating a story aimed specially to children.

From the beggining the project was developed with the collaboration of two artists from different professions, “two different worlds“, despite the fact that they express themselves in different media (music and animation), they were able to communicate, helping each other to build something together, thats why we chose “frienship” as one of the ruler concepts of the film.

Crafting a narrative should always be imaginative, intentional and relevant in order to captivate the attention of your audience. After defining our main concept for this first episode we continued brainstorming the general ideas to communicate.

How does a frienship start? Sometimes with a simple act, helping a unknown person, being nice and gentle. Exploring questions. This is how we came with the inspiration for a story.

You don’t need reasons to help someone.

Based on this premise, the aim of the story was to tell a story about looking beyond the selfishness and mistrust that we live day by day and remind the viewers of a natural characteristic of children, innocence and the value of nobility.

You don’t need reasons to help someone

How does the script was developed?

A great story progresses towards a clear central message. With our main idea defined, now we needed to give the story an introduction, develop a conflict to engage the audience and from there walk to a conclusion.

Every great storyteller will recommend you to embrace a story that means something personal and share it in way that can be clearly understood, something that feel reletable and can connect with people.

This is how we approached the structure of our story:

When a stranger approaches us, the first thing we do is take a defensive posture and forget that there people in the world can have good intentions.

Our story is based precisely from a daily experience, something as simple as that moment when a car tire goes flat and someone unexpectedly approaches to offer their help without expecting to receive anything in return.

But maybe, this wouldn’t sound funny or interesting, so let’s give it a bigger appeal for audiences with a bit of fantasy without losing the main axis of the idea. What if instead of a flat tire our conflict is that our rocket is stuck in a unknown planet? Maybe adding a little drama, how about our main character is desperate to go home and reach his family?

Visual Storytelling

For our film we decided to pay tribute to the beginnings of cinema. We embraced a monochromatic style and put a bigger effort in communicating through visuals and actions without dialogues. Story is driven by characters and the audience will get immersed with the support of the sounds and imagery we crafted specially to evoke emotions.

The key ideas to support the design and language were:

  • Create recognizable silhouettes
  • Appeal for a connection with children
  • Add a touch of adventure and fantasy

Character Design process

The basis of our designs seeks to present simple and clean graphics that are easy to identify, to remember and to ellaborate, just as a the doodles of a young artist. The models are based on geometric figures and curved lines to achieve a more visually friendly image.

Through symbols we sought to generate a connection with the children’s audience. The symbols on which they worked were the marshmallow shaped explorer representing sweetness and innocence, and the space rabbit to represent tenderness and curiosity.

From this shapes and concepts we had direct references for the character design.

One of the first images generated defined one of the key scenes in the story, as well as providing ideas of what the final image would look like.

The development of concept art is very important to generate and discard ideas, this was very useful when it came to finding those scenes and elements that did not provide significant content to the story.

For example the exploration of character design initially proposed that the space traveler would always be connected to his rocket through a hose. In the end, it was concluded that this element did not provide significant content and that inclusive it could interrupt the flow of the story.

The concept art also addressed the environment design. To create the universe where the story unfolds, a mixture of elements extracted from classic science fiction stories was generated. Outer space and the marine world were the basis for creating the environments and settings.

The chase sequence proposed a journey in which the characters would discover a field of jellyfish on the edge of a lagoon, one of the first concepts presented the image of a colossal bridge.

This scene, despite generating a very attractive image, was eliminated, since there was no coherence when presenting architecture in a world that is not inhabited by people. In the end the bridge was replaced by a trunk giving a more natural touch to the chase sequence.

Storyboarding

Once the conceptualization stage was completed, a final version of the storyboard was drawn, specifying frames and duration of each scene.

After finishing the storyboard process we can jump to production. We are now sure of the elements we need to model in 3D and the lenght of the scenes we will be animating.

The best thing about this whole process is the projection of the content. Seeing families enjoy a moment together has made all the effort worthwhile!

Discover the story behind our distribution to museums world wide in this article!

Published by Dessignare

New Media Production & Digital Animation focusing on cultural promotion and edutainment. Developing projects from Mexico City to the world. Founders of Dessignare Media, international network for the creative industries.

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