Snail Trail: A Strangely Beautiful Animation Based on a Laser Sculpture

Digital and analogue techniques illuminate the evolution of a snail.

A month or so back we wrote about a laser sculpture that featured a snail inventing the wheel and going on an evolutionary journey that saw it walking on two legs. Pretty high-minded stuff for a snail, but there you go. It was by animator Philipp Artus and now he’s created a short film version of the installation that follows the intense journey of this radical mollusk.

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Artus calls it a “colorful sister” of the laser sculpture and it uses a technique that mixes both digital and analogue techniques. First he created a 3D animation of the snail in 3ds Max which he then projected, with a laser, onto an after-glowing surface and recorded it frame-by-frame using Dragonframe Stop Motion software. Then it was completed in post production using After Effects to create a look that he says “looks somehow digital but has also the feeling of a hand-drawn animation.”

The look and feel are inspired by everything from nature, Leonardo da Vinci, Alberto Giacometti, and M. C. Escher to the motion of skateboards and surfing, while the sound design - which really adds to the intensity of the experience - has its roots in classical ambient drones and electronic post-dubstep beats.

This post also appears on The Creators Project, an Atlantic partner site. 

Kevin Holmes is Executive Editor of The Creators Project and lives and works in London, UK.

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