Brainwashing sequence

As i have been putting my storyboards and animatic together and experimenting with which way I want to take the story and which sequences I think are more important to the film, I have been thinking about how to really get across what I want to in those scenes. When Pinkguy is being brainwashed by the big green head and shown paradise, he is being drawn into something that will inevitably be bad for him – like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, he is transported into this controlled state of being where he is manipulated and believes what ‘they’ want him to – so he can be made to travel to a location and fight.

I have been thinking a lot about how i want to visualise that on screen. There are so many directions to go in and ways i could represent that, so I wanted to do a post with some of the influences I have been looking at for inspiration for this sequence.

2001 A Space Odessey

This iconic sequence from the cult classic film when the main character travels into the interdimensional alien portal is really something special. It starts small and grows, becoming incredibly vibrant and made up of every colour – mixing and changing. It changes and warps, vertical and horizontal it adapts and pulls the viewer in. It is organic and also structured and blocky – it constantly changes and doesnt let the audience get too comfortable and used to what is going on. Close ups and Extreme close ups are worked in of the main character who is flying through this beautiful cinematic experience – to remind us he is journeying through this incredible and ominous experience. The extreme close ups of his eye remind the viewer he is seeing all of this, but the angle is tilted making us think something is going to go wrong and he’s not safe. The colours also change which makes things even more unusual and creates this feeling which makes the whole experience more impactful for the audience.

Then he comes out the other end and everything slows down and becomes more peaceful but still chaotic. Then it goes back to travelling forward, but the speeds are slower and the imagery changes. To finish it looks like we are travelling over a psychedelic landscape that seems out of this world – alien and unusual – with strange flowing colours that melt together. The whole sequence draws the viewer in and keeps your interest and attention throughout  – and it’s a beautiful spectacle that delights and is like a moving artist painting that’s come to life.

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It’s a really long sequence, so I wont be able to do as long of a build up or devote so much time to it in my film – but i probably don’t have enough production time to make something so lengthy anyway. I think it is breathtaking, and the haunting music really brings it to life along with the operatic style singing creates this chaotic sense of something being wrong, or unusual – setting you on edge, as if we are leading towards something, and we’re not sure what it is, whether it’s good or bad.

I could experiment with some real life footage that have been heavily edited, so that it is not obvious what it is to the viewer – as long as it’s travelling and flowing and creates this sense of urgency and change.

Star Wars A New Hope

This scene from the first Star Wars movie is where the hero (Luke) is flying an x-wing through a narrow trench on the enemies Deathstar as he is pursued by the enemy. He uses his on board targeting computer at first to help him aim his lasers when attacking, and it’s this visual that I want to look at as inspiration.


It’s a really simple repeating visual. Yellow and red on a black background. The lines mimic the exterior environment, as it is supposed to be a real-time representation of what is outside the cockpit – targeting the middle. so the red lines move slowly and steadily towards the center, as we feel like we are moving forwards towards the middle – getting closer and closer to the end. This simple graphic is really effective at creating some suspense and movement, and makes the action seem more dramatic.


The jump to Hyperspace!

This short iconic visual shows the characters flying through space at superspeed – and all the stars leave long light trails, like when you take a photograph with a long shutterspeed – which makes the audience think that they are moving very very very fast! Which is precisely the point of this sequence, to show them jumping through space faster than is humanly possible, as they are travelling vast distances through space.

There is a build up as the star light trails extend and then a jump cut to the millennium falcon (spaceship) speeding away into a tiny dot and then disappearing altogether as it presumably flies across vast distances in space. Hyperspace_falcon.png

The Lego Movie

This sequence when the hero (Emmet) is falling from the lego world to the real world is a great visualisation of the sort of thing I want to do for my film. It’s very colourful – and is a kids film which doesn’t want to be too scary, but it works really well. It’s like a kaleidoscope, and then becomes this digital, blocky thing, similar to lego, which is very square.

Pinkguy is metaphorically falling into a deep state of control, losing his memories and this is the sort of thing I want to show the viewer. Having Emmet visually falling through the tunnel is a great way to metaphorically show he is falling from one state to the other – although in the Lego Movie he literally is falling from the table to the floor and also from the lego world to the real world – but for my film it would work to have Pinkguy fall through a tunnel as well.

Pinkguy – very small – could fall from the top to the bottom of the screen, flailing his arms and screaming all the way down as part of this sequence.

Dr Who

The Dr Who opening sequence are always slightly different every season. They are like flying through a wormhole, as the tardis flies through time and space, the audience flies towards a centre point. Some of these are like a kaleidoscope, lots of colour and symmetry.

  • Travelling through different outlines of shapes.
  • Things flying towards the screen and passing by
  • Reflections of light and colour – shimmering
  • Speeding up and slowing down
  • Going through a lightning storm tunnel

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I like the symmetry of this one, but it isn’t drawing you in, like the others, which move towards the centre, drawing the audience in. It is very organic, like water, rippling across the screen.

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This one reminds the audience it is a sci-fi adventure, set in space it feels extra-terrestrial, like the lights are forming shapes in space. It converges around this centre point.


In this newer sequence we fly towards the middle of the screen, as we spiral down with the roman numerals of a clock face – which reminds us we travel through both time and space. The geometric spiral shapes subtly remind us of the scientific approach Dr Who often has to solving problems with reason and thinking is really important, not just wild courageous action.


In this sequence the main characters are travelling through the stargate across the universe. You are dragged through the stargate and towards this bright middle, as the world spins around you, and the light at the centre grows and encompasses the screen. Then it opens out into space like a rollercoaster and you travel along this winding path.

The character are digitised or broken down into atoms as they travel through the liquid stargate. The world spins as they are dragged towards this bright centre point, which grows and blinds us. Then the stars come in from off-screen and form the backdrop as they rush towards us (or we rush towards them). Then we go on this rollercoaster ride through space, passing stars and taking wild turns this way and that. It’s a rapid and disorienting ride.

This one is way less colourful than some of the others, and the contrast works really well – and obviously makes you think of space, this black and white, light and dark landscape that the characters are traveling through.

Rick and Morty

This sequence is a bunch of strange things happening to the character (Gerry) who is experiencing them. But there are some parts which I think are really interesting.

  • Gerry becoming a bunch of colourful bubble or balloon like shapes merging and moving together in this strange mass. His face grows and changes shapes as he falls into the sequence.
  • Gerry spinning and screaming.
  • Everything digitising into small squares of colour, while Gerry’s face melts and pans across.
  • His eyes being replaced with clocks – odd visual
  • The sort of kaleidoscope sequence – colourful and merges to the middle.

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Doctor Strange

This sequence from Doctor Strange is brilliant. The character is taken on a crazy trip with no control, falling from one crazy place to the next.

  • He flies through the room he is in – through the walls.
  • Close up of his face as lights reflect from different directions
  • Flies through different incredible environments
  • Lights flying past him quickly – light beams
  • Many different versions of him
  • Crashes to the ground at the end
  • He is scared – screaming – as this is a scary experience throughout.

(The music is not from the movie)


After looking at the above example in a bit more detail there are things I want to draw inspiration from when animating my brainwashing sequence.

  • Flying towards the centre – moving from one state to another
  • Space (stars) – it’s bigger than just Pinkguys world.
  • Seeing Pinkguy falling – flailing his arms and legs – out of control (then becoming more controlled and stable, as the brainwashing takes effect)
  • Many Pinkguys -melting together
  •  Colour! Lots of colour and reflections and light contrasted with the dark
  • Spinning around – during the out of control portion of the journey

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