A story about the fire at the heart of suffering. Bringing together dancers, musicians, visual artists and 3d animators, the film takes a critical look at the events of the past decade that have shaped our world. Heliofant is an independent animation studio based in Montreal. These seek to create films and experimental works very sensitive. Their first film I, II pet goat is a perfect example. 7 minutes of splendid animation illustrating with great sadness the image of fire that burns in the heart of suffering. To watch and share.
What inspired you to create I, Pet Goat II? Where did the idea come from?
The film came to me in a visual form. I had been seeing the central character on his boat for a while and it was as if I could no longer avoid him. I needed to know what he had to tell me. I had always been interested in spiritual traditions and philosophies and it’s as if I felt that I would find some sort of resolve in this exploration of my internal landscape using all these universal symbols. I felt that I would be lead to a deeper peace.
Throughout the process I tried not to let my intellect get in the way, choosing to let the images pass through me even if I didn’t fully understand them on a conscious level rather than censoring everything, even if I was a bit shocked by some of the imagery. I followed the story in its visual form. When things made sense visually and rhythmically, I went with that. In the course of doing this work I have found many explanations for all the micro stories and I have had many other people give me various other explanations. I think it works well that way – evoking different things for different people.
Having said that, the story is clearly about the crumbling away of the hierarchical world based on control and the rising up of the spiritual man, awakening to his divine nature, free of intermediaries.
The crumbling and destruction effects are particularly impressive. How did you create these?
Most of the effects shots were done by freelancers. I did a lot of fire and some water but the rest were done by others, mostly Hugues Coupal and Strob (aka Jocelyn Simard of Iron Baby fame). Strob did all the smoke shots using FumeFX in 3ds. The twin towers and the exploding army of businessmen were the most challenging and took some time to get right. As I recall, Strob used a lot of geometry objects to generate the complex vortices in both shots.
Hugues Coupal, a good friend of mine, did the crumbling church in Maya. He did a lot of scripting to get the cadence timed correctly (different sections crumbling at different times) since the simulations were very long. In fact most of everything was scripted including the fixing of the UVs on each piece of debris. Once the simulation of the bigger chunks was done, Hugues had the debris emit particles to make it look fuller and then Strob added a layer of FumeFX to make it look as if snow in suspension was slowly falling as well.
What is your favourite part of the animation?
My favourite part of the story is when we are led out of the classroom and into the first few shots of the snowy landscape. I love how the mood changes radically from something very ridiculous to something very dramatic. I love how Gilles Roisan and Nady Marro, the music composers, were really able to capture and enhance that feeling. The music changes when we pull out of the classroom. It’s like the narrator is saying: “Come children, let me tell you a story…” and a great expectation builds. At least for me it does. We are also released from tense spoken words uttered by W into the more fluid rhythms of the music and the symbols. I love that.
You can learn more about I, Pet Goat II over at the Heliofant website.