I have always loved space. Since I was a child, I dreamed of traveling to other planets and experiencing space as I witnessed in my childhood book inspirations and movies. Recently, I recalled that childhood admiration for astronomy and wanted to bring the dream of stars and space back to me via CGI.
Epoch is a result of merging my love of design with space and moving imagery. It is a visual exercise intended to communicate that childhood wonder and enjoyment without any commentary. By primarily utilizing visuals and music, it will allow the viewer to experience the passage through their own imagination.
I knew when this project began that this was going to be a somewhat linear journey, from one point to another and beyond. The basic core idea was to shadow the symbolic tale of David and Goliath, where in this film, David = Humanity, and Goliath = space and the unknown. Through similar scale, humanity is such a small presence in this vast universe, and it must overcome many unknown adversities to survive. The great unknown is indeed just that, unknown. It is hard to grasp just how large of a presence humanity must face as the resolve of one unknown only yields a new horizon of unknowns.
The original cut of the film totaled just over 15 minutes, and it was developed in 3 months of time between other projects and personal obligations. Epoch’s running time at the final cut is 11:11:11 and equated to 16,115 frames.
With a project as vast as Epoch, it was essential to have visual milestones such as a style frame to keep our minds focused in the right direction and avoid easily veering off course.
Here are some various still frames from the film to further demonstrate how everything started from a primitive idea, to a design storyboard, then to a style frame, and finally to the finished edit of the film.
Chris and I knew that the ship portrayed on this voyage needed to be special in form. It needed to carry us through different scenes and allow us to experience the film on many levels. We did many different iterations during the first week of pre-production on Epoch, but ended up with the final decision to focus on the core design principles and formation of an atom. I loved the idea of using an already existing universal form like the atom to guide in the construction of the vessel and create a simple, yet iconic, shape.
Since the viewer is never exposed to the true scale and size of the vessel in comparison to the size of a human, we were able to play with its scale by the distance to the camera and nearby objects.
The vessel can be seen from many different vantage points, but three main visual symbols were repeatedly portrayed in the film to support the basic design storyline.
The first viewpoint was the full vessel visual which resembles the letter “K” mirrored on itself. This form also resembles the human body portrayed in da Vinci’s Vitruvian man. In this formation, the ship is fully formed and composed; it is in control of itself and its destination.
The second vessel formation exposed is the “+” (plus) sign. Universally, the plus sign is a mathematical symbol used to fundamentally represent notions of positive or more. When the ship is shown in a plus formation, it is representing its ability to overcome or control itself in its surroundings. As you watch the film, you will find many scenes where the ship is in transition towards the plus sign; it is constantly reforming its position in the linear graphic narrative.
The third key vessel formation is the shown as the letter or symbol “X”. There are many different meanings attached to “X”, but for Epoch in particular, we chose to use the meaning of caution or chaos. Two intersecting points throwing one another off axis in comparison to the steady “+” as mentioned earlier. When the vessel forms into an “X”, it is graphically signifying chaos or lack of control.
I have always been particularly fond of Mars and the rings of Saturn. I daydreamed about the sun cascading its effects over the crest of these massive star dust formations as it rises and sets. Utilizing the latest in computer technology, Chris and I were able to bring views of these planets to the film in rarely seen formations, light, scale, or size.
Many of the planets were textures and assets initially gathered from NASA and other resources, and then rebuilt to fit the scale and size we needed for Epoch. We attempted to portray somewhat photo real results with minimal embellishments. We wanted the planetary bodies to feel like you could reach out and touch them, and so this took many different iterations and attempts until we found the right formula for each planetary body and their moons. Depending on the vantage point and the scale, each shot needed a new texture formulated and uniquely applied as a bespoke creation all its own.
Epoch was a true labor of love.
Every frame in Epoch was crafted around a core unveiled purpose to convey a particular thought, idea, and emotion. It might take a few viewings to fully realize this embedded theme, but if you do discover it, your journey will be further enveloped in the visual experience.
While manifested initially as thumbnails in my sketchbook, the frames below are a practice in basic core graphic design using Adobe Illustrator and primitive shapes to convey a story.
I have been a longtime fan of Ben Boysen. He has incredible talent and amazing sensibility for building emotion and tone through his many layers of sonic tonalities. Chris and I first used one of his amazing scores for our other short film, NONE. So after we finished that film, we asked him if he wanted to join us on another adventure into space. Ben loved the concept and agreed to jump onboard with us for Epoch.
Ben was particularly enamored at the time by the incredible sounds of Yair Elazar Glotman, and so he felt it was a perfect piece to explore in collaboration.
On most of my projects, I will generally instruct the focus and goal for the musical direction of the project. However, for Epoch, I allowed Ben and Yair the liberty to create the score entirely on their own, without my due influence. They composed the tone of the score based on their own journey they wanted to present to us all, and it was an incredible honor to have them involved on this film.
If you enjoy the score as much as we do you can get it here for FREE.
As most of you already know, I absolutely love posters and prints. Therefore, we couldn’t help but explore some possible ideas we had floating around our minds for print. Since Epoch is essentially an exploration in design itself, these posters came together incredibly naturally and everything tied together effortlessly. These are all concept images and we have not decided on whether to make physical copies for distribution. So if you have any input or interest in owning a print, please feel free to email us and let us know your thoughts. If there is a strong outreach and demand for them, we will consider creating a special sale of prints for all to enjoy.
First and foremost, we would like to thank our amazing friends and families for their continuous support through the long nights and weekends, as personal projects like Epoch take tremendous effort and time to construct. Without their love and understanding, these projects would not exist. Therefore, a very special thanks to the Thorp, Boyen, Glotman and Bjerre families. Also, many thanks to our numerous friends and colleagues, especially… Anthony Scott Burns, Raoul Marks, Yambo, Cornelius Dammrich, Rapheal Rau, Kirill Chepizhko, Boris FX, Maxon, Otoy, and NASA.
Here is list of applications and useful plugins that we used to create Epoch:
Adobe After Effects
Sapphire plugin for After Effects
Red Giant plugin for After Effects
Maxon Cinema 4D
Octane for Cinema 4D