Marc Loftus
June 2, 2009


Their lack of action to correct these problems leads to a mountain of worldwide problems that include climate change, water and food shortages, over population and pollution. The story is told from the perspective of a main character named Lucy, who was born in 2009 but is telling the story in the year 2100. 

Guerilla FX created over 30 minutes of animation that appears in the special, adopting a graphic-novel style to illustrate events that include riots and flooding. John Bair, creative director and animation supervisor for the project, says Guerilla FX was brought in late last year and the tight deadline to create so much animation in part dictated the graphic-novel style.

"It was a lot of fun," says Bair. "We went with this graphic novel approach. Everything was illustrated for the show and then pretty much everything was broken up into three dimensions, even though the images were 2D cards, so to speak. It was all broken up into 3D - either After Effects 3D or 3D in 3DS Max."

Bair was initially presented with a late June/early July airdate, so when the airdate changed to June 2, the team put it in overdrive.

"We called the whole team back, added to the team and started pressing forward on a roller coaster to the end. In terms of animating the graphic novel style, we knew from the beginning that there would be no sync sound. We would never try and simulate the characters speaking in any way. That's just a different type of animation and inappropriate for the show, and frankly, would have been just one too many things to try to do on the 30 minutes that we had."

Bair describes the flashback sequences as "snapshots" in which the camera could drift through and find emotional content. In one scene, Lucy recalls her husband's effort to help save the city by manually closing the floodgates that protect the harbor. In another, she recounts a slaughter that takes place as migrants storm the country's southern border.

In addition to the illustrations, Guerilla FX used live action for visual effects, such as gunfire and flames, stock imagery, and photos that the team shot throughout the city. Imagery was heavily postarized to resemble and blend with the traditional high-contrast illustrations, notes Bair.

"It was a lot of fun," he says of the project, "and the designers loved working on it!"