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Filmmaker Bends Reality in an Experimental Animated/Live Action Short

It's hard to separate the real from the fabricated in Jesse Collett's mind-bending 'Boom Is Life.'

by Nathaniel Ainley
02 November 2015, 3:15pm

Screencaps via

A refreshing fusion of stop-motion animation and live-action filmmaking takes center stage in animation director and designer Jesse Collett’s Boom is LifeThe short is an ethereal and immersive, multidimensional journey that blends real and fabricated elements to narrate what its director calls "a feeling really." Says Collett, "It’s hard to talk about it without sounding like Brian Cox on DMT. I wanted the viewer to feel like they’d seen the universe from a different point of view, to slowly shatter their sense of reality and leave them in a state of existential awareness."

Boom is Life is his grad film for his final year at the Royal College of Art in London. The project took roughly nine months to complete, and was actually filmed on a handmade miniature tech theater type set, with foregrounds made of normal pottery clay and backgrounds constructed from painted cardboard. Collett used UV paint and lighting to create that gritty surreal glow consistent throughout the film. Projectors were used to to animate the character’s shadows onto the set, so they were physically there and didn't need to be composited in afterwards. The moving parts of the set were captured in live action with a handheld video camera, while the animated characters were 3D tracked and inserted into the live action using After Effects.

“I wanted the viewer to feel like they’d seen the universe from a different point of view, to slowly shatter their sense of reality and leave them in a state of existential awareness.” Collett tells Directors Notes.

The hard lighting, the narrow color scope, the shaky camera; it’s safe to assume that these were all creative aesthetic decisions made to play with our perception of conventional reality. Collett’s work is an inspiring example of an authentic new form of poetic storytelling.

Check out Boom Is Life below: 

Check out a behind-the-scenes video here to see how this masterpiece came together, and for more from Jesse Collett, head over to his website.

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