It may seem so obvious that it generally skips the mind, but the shape of the frame is one of the most basic qualities governing visuals. Traditionally speaking, we're locked into this pretty successful sort of rectangular thing (no complaints), with some variability brought to us by the likes of format spec limits and the option of shooting anamorphic. Rarely do we have a reason to even want to break out of this box -- but as visual creators, the power to do so is there should we require it. The yearly Fête des Lumières (or Festival of Lights) in Lyon, France has recently provided one such opportunity for a group of art Masters students -- given that their animation would be projected on the side of a building, they chose quite the interesting shape for the frame of their vibrant and charming CG short.

Needless to say it took NASA-level coding and some serious aspect ratio calculation to make the above embed fit everybody's favorite filmmaking site (or one of them, at least :), but the result speaks for itself. Then, it's just one mental step further to imagine that projected onto a real-life 80 foot-tall building -- at the proper angle for its shape to precisely fit the silhouette cut by that of the structure -- or, better put, achieving the form-matching nature it was designed to have, given the creators' understanding of the placement and positioning of the projector itself. This is, at least, what I can only assume was done, given its success upon projection -- which, by the way, you don't actually have to imagine, because shots of its debut are included in this making-of clip:

Cartoon Brew, who featured the short and the making-of soon after the recent festival and had a chance to speak with Yann Moriaud, one of its creators:

This project is dedicated for a specific program of student experimentation, to intentionally bring a new vision to the installations. Students were constrained and informed of technicals aspects which are proper to the monumental projection.

We were given a free hand concerning the choice of subject and its complete design, so we felt free to propose our own vision for the event. Because of our studies and our personal desires, we naturally followed the structure of a very short 3D cg feature. We also brought in some cartoon humor with our little gags.

The tools we mainly used are 3DSMAX for all the CG part and the animation, and After Effects for the compositing. Concerning the water simulation we prefered to use an open-source tool: Blender.

It's artful little things like this -- those pieces that imagine and achieve big, and do so straight-forwardly, honestly, and without pretense -- that help me break my thinking out of the box it's usually in, even for just a moment. Of course, I will rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to so drastically reshape (literally and otherwise) a viewer's understanding of the moving canvas in such a way -- but it's nice to be reminded occasionally of just what can be imagined upon the surface provided for creative paint-slinging (or what have you). Mr. Moriaud, Alexandre Spontak, Fabien Weibel, Antoine Marduel, and Youssef Krafess are the talented multi-hyphenated creators of this piece.

Did this short piece charm its way into your liking? What about the even more obvious -- the shape of it, and its playfulness with dimensionality -- did it shake up the framing part of your brains at all? What creative circumstances have you found yourself in where you had the chance to alter the shape of your imagery?

Link: The Festival of Lights -- Cartoon Brew

[via Michael Eades on VHX]