a n i m a t i o n p h a n t o m 


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A 3-D Computer Animation by
Ronan Coyle - animation
Jim McGuinness photography
Giles Packham music

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About Phantom


The Girl – Catherine Bruen
The Guy – Ronan Coyle


In 2003 James Kelly, came on board as executive producer to submit Phantom to a number of Irish film festivals. Phantom was shown in competition 2003, at the Galway Film Fleadh, where it won third place in Best Animation; and at the Kerry Film Festival, where it won commendation for Best Animation Technique and, from the director Neil Jordan, the adjudicator, Special Commendation for Best Director.

Creative Process

For about ten years, Ronan Coyle shared a flat in the house in Merrion Square with various flatmates.

In early 2002, an eviction notice arrived.

The three friends, Ronan, Jim, and Giles, having talked about doing a collaboration, thought the flat would be appropriate, and they waited until most of the rooms were empty.

Giles had already written the music.

Early one day, the three met in the flat and listened to the music over and over and discussed what would happen in the film.

The dripping theme was inspired by various upstairs events over the years of overflowing baths and washing machines. One weekend, the upstairs tenants went away, and their washing-machine pipes broke. For the whole time water dripped down through the ceiling and over the door jambs of the flat below (the water-stains can be seen in the animation). The flat-mates took turns manning a complicated system of upside-down umbrellas, buckets, and pots for emptying the water into the toilet.

When the three were happy, Jim McGuinness photographed the empty space into the afternoon (while the daylight lasted).

It was initially supposed to be a quick little project but the 3-D construction, animation, and compositing ended up taking the animator, Ronan Coyle, roughly 6 months.

The premier of Phantom was held in the flat. Reunited, the collaborators, previous flat-mates, remaining tenants and their friends and families got together. A bed sheet was thumbtacked to the wall and the film projected onto to it. As the electricity had been disconnected, they could only show Phantom as long as laptop batteries lasted.

The flat is still empty.

Notes on the Technique

The technique of Texture Projection allows a photograph to be viewed from perspectives other than the one it was originally taken from. This manipulation of still photography lends the animation a dream-like cardboard cut-out quality which seemed appropriate for the music.

The Process

On Location
Multiple reference photographs were taken of each location, taking note of the position of the camera within that location. Wide lens angles were mostly used for the interior reference photographs, whereas zoom lenses were necessary for close-up detail of the exterior shots. Six rolls of film were used to record the locations and character permutations.

Post Production
In the 3-D software a camera with similar properties was placed in a dummy cube (representing the room to be modelled). Looking through the camera viewpoint, the reference photograph was set as the screen background. Then room elements (shelves, jam jar lids, etc) were built by working backwards from a corner of the dummy cube. When all the elements were sufficiently accurate, the photograph was projected, from the camera, back onto the blank geometry. This process was repeated for all the reference areas of each room. Camera, water and water-shimmer were animated. Drips were simulated using particle physics. The final composite consisted of up to eight layers including: depth of field, water shimmer, camera distortion and camera iris saturation.

Appropriate Foley was recorded on location and in studio which was edited back over the original soundtrack.

Wireframe Composites

The geometry had to be built backwards, using a technique called texture projection. Similar to a traditional technique in animation of rotoscoping, where a scene is filmed and animators trace over it to obtain motion and natural movement. In this context, it was 3-D rotoscoping. Jim took notice of the different lenses and where he was positioned in the room, and this information was used to build up the 3-D geometry, to correspond to the photographs.

The next step was projecting the photo back onto the geometry. What happened is that you can look at a photo from a different angle than the one it was taken in. The best example of the technique is the shot when the camera goes in through the bathroom window. All the reference photos were taken from the car park out the back it demonstrates the point of being able to move the camera to other points than the one from which the photo was originally taken.





Phantom 2002 Ronan Coyle, Jim McGuinness, Giles Packham.
For information contact:
Feenish Productions
 26 South Frederick Street,
Dublin 2, Ireland.
phone: +353-1-677-6956.
e-mail: info@feenish.com




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