Motion designer and 3D artist Rich Nosworthy was one of several animators, designers and studios asked to help create an ident for this year’s Pause Fest in Melbourne, Australia. Titled “Airspace,” the ident served as a sort of animated logo for the annual digital film festival, and was shown frequently throughout the event.
Working with a very open creative brief and the festival’s theme, which this year was “connected,” Nosworthy used Cinema 4D and After Effects to create an ident that shows how unusual and interesting things can happen when inspiration and all sort of disparate ideas meet. “It was a great opportunity for me to play with a lot of ideas,” Nosworthy recalls, explaining that he started with a general concept involving unique objects in the sky connected by wires.
As the objects meet, they react and transform in time to the music, which was created by Wesley Slover of Sono Sanctus. The goal was to bring to life the way all kinds of weird ideas get conceived of during the early stages of a project only to be thrown out later for being off-brand or just too strange. “So the whole thing needed to feel like this landscape of unused ideas that were too silly to be used in the real world, but over time they start to grow and take over the space above us” he says. “To be honest, it was just a good chance to have a lot of fun with this style and let the imagination run riot.”
A Love of Design
Currently living in Auckland, New Zealand, Nosworthy taught himself to use C4D and After Effects in 2009 after first learning Maya while studying computer science in college. Though he is a skilled visual effects artist, he’s become more interested in motion graphics over the years because he likes the opportunity to work in more abstract ways and do more with design. (See his reel here.)
In addition doing personal and freelance projects, Nosworthy works full-time as a motion designer and 3D lead for the New Zealand-based creative studio, Bunker. He was invited to create an ident for Pause Fest by Melbourne-based motion designer, Caspian Kai Pantea, one of the curators of the event. Though he’d never done anything like that before, he was excited to give it a try.
In all, Nosworthy figures it took about eight weeks working nights and weekends to create “Airspace,” a name he came up with when the project was nearly finished and it stuck. After first doing a few sketchbook doodles of different ideas and choosing what seemed to be the strongest, he worked closely with Slover, the sound designer, who is based in Seattle, Washington. “I would send him test animations and images and he’d send back clips of sound design and music,” Nosworthy recalls. “It was a cool dynamic where the inspiration kept moving back and forth around the clock.”
A Little Bit of Everything
Nosworthy says that “creative block” was the biggest challenge he faced while working on “Airspace.” While it was great to have a lot of creative freedom, it was no easy task to tie together all of the ideas he had for the abstract piece in a way that looked the way he wanted it to. Cinema 4D helped because it allowed him to try out ideas quickly and keep moving. “It’s very modular, so you can plug in deformers and effects and see what works,” he explains. “It’s a great concepting tool from a designer’s point of view.”
Once he’d chosen the ideas he wanted to include, Nosworthy modeled various objects in C4D and starting putting bits and pieces together, each piece building up more and more over time in a way that sometimes felt like the objects had minds of their own. Much of the modeling was achieved using simple geometry, MoGraph cloners and C4D’s rigging and Xpresso tools. (Watch a project breakdown here).
One of the things he enjoyed most about working on “Airspace” was the chance to use many of the skills, tools and techniques he’d learned over the last few years for one big project. To animate the lottery ball machine, Nosworthy used dynamics and softbodies with spline IK (inverse kinematics) controlling the attached horns “to give them a bit of personality,” he says. Dynamics was also used to fire the ball in the pinball hammer scene in the middle of the ident.
ZBrush came in handy when creating the giant squid creature that appears toward the end of the ident. A fun oddity among the other creations in the sky, the squid was modeled in DynaMesh and then the base mesh was imported into Cinema 4D. Rigging the model with deformers and dynamic joints allowed the tentacles to react to wind and turbulence fields.
Nosworthy used C4D’s cloth for one of the final shot of the sails expanding. An Xpresso rig controls the connecting wires between the sails, allowing them to be blended between expressions and spline dynamics. “I learned a lot about C4D’s dynamics, especially cloth rigging and spline dynamics for this project, and it was a lot of fun to dig deeper into that stuff,” he says, adding that working on an ident of this size was challenging, but a whole lot of fun.
Feedback on “Airspace” has been overwhelmingly positive, which was something of a surprise to Nosworthy and Slover who weren’t quite sure what to expect. “Honestly, there was quite a bit of time during the middle of the project when we were weren’t sure how it was going to come out, but as we got towards the end, with the sound and visuals getting tighter, we were both pleased with the result.”
Meleah Maynard is a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis.