‘Tank’ by Stu Maschwitz

Check out this uber cool retro short animation about a gosh darn huge tank!

“In a visual homage to vector arcade games of the 80’s (like Battlezone and Star Wars), Tank tells the story of a team of pilots that must take on a weapon of mass destruction in a battle to save their world. Putting aside current 3D modeling techniques, Stu looked to the past and built the world of Tank entirely in Adobe After Effects, using math, code, and hundreds of hours of painstaking animation work.”                                                                                                                                         [1]

Stu, film maker and chief creative officer at Red Giant. With a background in visual effects and a degree in Animation, this is actually his first animated film. He admits that he went about making this film in the most roundabout crazy way you could imagine. The process began in high school, as an idea, which ultimately never went anywhere. After working on Star wars movies at Industrial light and magic he got to work on some amazing projects and spent a lot of his time learning everything he could about After Effects. It was this tinkering day after day in After Effects which brought the retro Tank project back from the dead. Stu used a lot of different techniques to bring the film to life, and is a great example of just how much you can get out of After Effects if you know what you’re doing.

The process from idea to final film:

  • The ‘Textomatic’ – short lines of text synced to the music. Story lines which line up to the beat. This is important so that the music beats line up with the story beats.
  • Storyboard – rough. Getting the visual composition down on paper.
  • Storyboard – cleaner (timings) Making sure it all flows right and looks good. Stu did this in After Effects and then began animating straight away in the same file.

One of the coolest things about this film, in my opinion, is the effect Stu created to make it look like the film was being shown on two monitors side by side. He also animated in 60 fps comps, then simulated how a camera would film that at 24 fps, which created a flicker and a subtle double image, simulating motion blur. Which matches the look of arcade game machines and how they look to you when you are playing them. This takes the retro style idea to a whole other level and really create this unique feeling to the film.


[1] – https://www.cartoonbrew.com/cartoon-brew-pick/short-pick-of-the-day-tank-by-stu-maschwitz-160607.html

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