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animation project outline

Working title: SGT. ZENO

Synopsis: A police officer (Zeno) pursues an armed criminal through the night city. Tires squeal and the criminal hits a building in the crowded square. Bystanders scatter in slow motion. He escapes on foot, and Zeno is forced to open fire.

— Or is he? As the incident progresses, time continues to slow, like a graph approaching infinity … shadows crawl … pupils linger on each detail … faces are sculpted by impressions too slight to be felt themselves … heartbeats mark the passing seconds. As the gun is raised and the tendons contract, as we hear the trigger begin to slide, Zeno’s expression changes to one of recognition, and we are left with the question: Was he able to avoid firing the shot?

Technical notes: This is a LOT of work if you think about it. The events have to be storyboarded down to the split second, and the slowing pace fine-tuned to enhance the action, rather than obscure it. The face and body language of all participants, including crowd reaction, has to be modeled convincingly. The sound has to work perfectly at speeds below the typical slo-motion sequence. The pistol mechanics have to be understood, which means digging through somebody’s film archives. And the whole point of the exercise is to have the faces tell a detailed story of sub-thoughts and sub-emotions congealing into behaviors.

Don’t even ask about the film noir lighting — that’s an entire study in itself.

Start date: Spring 2009 (tentative).

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