July 05, 2009

Machu Picchu Post

Here's an animated film about the unexpected encounter between a young Peruvian boy and an airmail pilot.

Check out the official website and the "making of" description. The latter says:When we made 'Machu Picchu Post', we were three students at the 3D school Supinfocom Arles in France, in advanced computer graphics classes: Clement Crocq, Margaux Durand-Rival and Nicolas Novali. As usual in the school, the last year of study is for making a full 3D short film in groups of three or four students, from the idea to the final compositing.

Close to the end of our first year in advanced CG at Supinfocom, all the students had to make up a synopsis for the final year’s short films. The ‘Machu Picchu Post’ synopsis was based on a simple concept. A young Peruvian boy and his lama are sitting, bored, and a mail plane loses some letters over the boy's house. The boy takes a letter, makes a paper plane and starts to play but everything he does to the paper plane happens to the real plane, until a final psychedelic trip in a fantastic Inca world occurs when the boy decides to paint on the paper plane with paint pigments.

We felt it had potential for strong and delirious graphics, a good directing challenge (connecting the world of the boy, of the pilot, the psychedelic trip) because we wanted something dynamic and fluid, and a good opportunity for making something fresh and fun.

At the end of June 2007, we were finishing our different school works and improving the ‘Machu Picchu Post’ script. We started to make the first designs of the characters, illustrations for the different scenes and the storyboard of the short. With a 2D animatic, we gathered a better idea of the timing of each scene. We started to have more precise ideas for the psychedelic trip.

We spent the summer researching: clothes for the pilot; the plane; lama and the boy. We explored pictures of Peru, Machu Picchu and all the Inca cultural towns, statues, paintings and divinities, also psychedelic artists, movies and other influences. That was intense but in fact was useful for the rest of the production.
I think this is a great little film. It's sort of a cross between The Emperor's New School and an old barnstorming movie. There's a sense of Native style (though the filmmakers are apparently French), no heavy-handed message, and no blatant stereotypes (other than the brief bit of magic). The protagonist gets props for making a paper airplane, which shows he's not some primitive savage who's clueless about the world.

If I were the teacher of this class, I'd give Machu Picchu Post an "A" grade. I'd also encourage the students to enter it in film competitions. It seems like a winner to me.

For something that seems related but isn't see Inca Airplanes in Journeyman. For more on the subject, see Native Video and Cartoons.

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