Making of “Year With Uber”

June 23rd 2019

Final Frontier’s first major project in Asia was “Year With Uber” with R/GA Singapore, a campaign harnessing Uber user trip data to create location-specific, personalised animated music videos, made up of 5,000 story and song combinations.

It was a major production effort, requiring our sister-studio, Le Cube, to direct and produce 150-seconds of animation to recreate the feeling of being in an Asian street market.  


The project set a benchmark for design-driven, short form, 2D animation in Asia and picked up a Digital Craft award at Spikes Asia.

Since we’re often asked how the animation came together, here’s Le Cube director Ralph Karam to take us through the process:

Character Development

The starting point for creating the character universe was researching all the coolest aspects of Asian urban culture and contemporary lifestyle.  Our characters reflect the idiosyncrasies of several Asian cultures, but united into a single universe with an integrated art style.  We worked hand in hand with R/GA team to understand the uniqueness of each culture. 

Design Inspiration

Super Nintendo games from the 1990s, like Street Fighter II and Final Fight, were definitely an inspiration.  There are also tons of references from anime, mainly in the animation style. 

Production Process

Art (1 - 2 weeks)

For the character design, we developed 360° models, together with a study of facial expressions and body language.  We also produced general art concepts to define the narrative style, along with background art and guides of how the characters interact within the universe. 

Animatic Layout (1 week)

Once the scripts and art are done, we move forward with the animatic - a rough, animated storyboard that defines the camera movements, scene cuts, character acting, scene length and the flow of the entire film.  At this stage, the narrative of the animation is set. 

Animation (1.5 weeks)

The next stage is the actual process of animation.  That is composed mainly of three steps: the first stage is ‘layouts’, when the actions of the animatic are refined, and the transitions of scenes are set; next, is the pencil stage, when each frame is drawn in outlines; and last is the ‘clean up’ stage where colours, shadows, and textures are added.

Clean up and Composition (2 weeks)

After animation and colouring, the last process is ‘composition’, when backgrounds, scene props, character animations and all the elements are composed together, and the last touches of lighting and contrast are given to the animation. 

Timeline

Producing 8-seconds of 2D animation takes around three weeks, illustrating and painting each frame. To produce 150 seconds of animation takes 200 working hours overall.

Craft 工艺

Maintaining high quality, especially for a complex project like this, relies on the vision and dedication of the creative direction, supported by an experienced and talented team of artists and animators.A pipeline composed of defined animation roles and art supervisors is crucial to keeping the result consistent.  Last, but just as important, it’s essential that the producer is experienced, professional and systematic, especially in a project with a high number of deliveries and a large team to manage. 

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