Animated Short ‘NONE’ Is a Mesmerizing, Photo-Realistic Surreal Journey

Video and screenshots by Ash Thorp. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Today, we’re taking a quick break from our usual photography-centric features to bring you NONE, a mesmerizing animated short by illustrator, designer, and director Ash Thorp.

NONE is a personal project Ash created in collaboration with fellow multidisciplinary artist Chris Bjerre during a three week break from client work in the hopes of developing their craft even further. A lovely instrumental track by musician Ben Lukas Boysen wraps the video up perfectly.

Of this animated short, Ash wrote:

NONE is a short film that explores the balance of light and darkness. It has a personal narrative which plays with the notion of finding yourself amidst the noise around you.

NONE is set in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world engulfed by fog and almost devoid of movement and humans save for two mysterious figures looking down the quiet metropolis from tall structures and the birds that fly above them.

NONE is by no means flashy. It isn’t loud. It’s slow-paced, lacks color and dialogue, and doesn’t have a twist ending. But it’s precisely its simplicity that makes it such a spellbinding watch. Every single detail that makes up the video is a display of its creators’ mastery of the tools used to create it.

The first thing you’ll notice as you watch NONE is how deftly Ash and Chris played with light and shadow to create layers that suggest distance from the various light sources. The farther the light goes, or the more fog surrounds it, the less intense it becomes.

The attention to detail is pretty amazing as well; birds in flight, flickering lights, water droplets on windows, falling snow (or was it ash, or dust?), and textures on every surface such as the ridges on a manhole cover. They’re all subtle but without these, NONE wouldn’t look as realistic as it does now.

The process for making the short film began with a few key images created using Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, and Octane as our render engine.  Using the fog tag, we were able to create powerful volumetric lighting; this element was essential for creating a very unique tone and mood, which is usually difficult to properly capture in CGI work. 

The base line style frames were then cut together over music using Adobe Premier.  Final compositing finishes were accomplished in Adobe After Effects, and the final edit was cut using Adobe Premier.

Most of the props and landscapes were provided by Vitaly Bulgarov’s amazing 3D asset library.  Additional elements were gathered from the resource site, TurboSquid, while the figures’ costumes were built and created by Alex Figini using Marvelous Designer and Zbrush.

Don’t forget to visit NONE on Behance to read more about the project, and Ash Thorpe’s Behance portfolio to see more of his work.