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Mysterious Noir Vibes Infuse This Ghostly Animation

Distilled photographic compositions create a mysterious, enigmatic feel in Art&Graft​'s animated short. ​

Kevin Holmes

When it comes to John Carpenter movies, one thing that gives them away instantly is the self-composed electronic music that soundtracks them. Music that adds a sense of urgency and otherworldliness to his brand of sci-fi and horror.

The director's much-celebrated music was the genesis of an atmospheric animation by London studio Art&Graft. Called Lost Hope it's the fourth in their Art&Graft Studio Film® series. Previous shorts have seen them tackle subjects as diverse as the motel photography of William Eggleston or the sublime scenery of England's Lake District.

For this latest short the animation paces through an empty city at night, lit by street lamp through fog. It then leaves urbanity to head into the wilderness, a sense of some strange thing or other coming to life as we head for the hinterlands and flecks of light begin to stream across the sky.

"The John Carpenter influence started purely as a musical thing," explains the studio. "Originally this film was intended to be a music video for Laura Marling that unfortunately ended up not being used. As we had completely finished the film it seemed a waste to just hide it away, so we re-edited it and cracked a track from JC's Lost Themes album [Carpenter's debut studio album from 2015] on it. It worked really well and gave the whole film a darkly atmospheric and moody vibe."

While the foreboding mood of the music was Carpenter, the visuals had a different inspiration. The studio are fond of Patrick Joust's nighttime photography, his "beautiful colors and mysterious compositions."

So to get the look of the film they distilled photographic references into graphic and bold illustrations using a restricted color palette. But keeping the lighting of the photos to preserve the mood, then animated the scenes using Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. The track on the final film was produced by Echoic.

"A lot of the mood of the film comes from the pace of the editing too," notes Art&Graft. "We were always really conscious to let the camera hold a little too long on a shot and have the subtlest amount of action happen in each frame, until the streaks begin to burst into the shots and build the pace up."

See more work from Art&Graft at their website here.

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