BUTTONS EXTINCT – Animated Short Film

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Buttons Extinct is a CGI Animated Short Film or say Movie(no films were there to shoot) made by me at home as a Personal project. Since the coming of the mobile phones, life of man has changed drastically. And year by year they have continued to grow their impact. They have changed the whole concept of communication now. But not just to the Man. But to Themselves too.

The Revolution has its own prophecy. This Short is about the Human Nature from the perspective of this Revolution in Communication.

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This animated short flows with the Mobile Phone Buttons who try to take the rebel against the Smart Phones. Because of the arrival of the Touch Screens these Buttons would have no future it seems. But the Buttons have their plans to square this out. They intend to take revenge on the Smart Phone. On their way they have the add ons. The Computer Keyboard Keys. The Buttons approach them also, for they too are of the same functionalities. But the whole thing turns out to different game.

It all started with the conceptual glimpses on one Saturday morning of August 2014. And I started to develop with whatever at the first hand in my mind by the after noon the same day. There was no studio, no team, just me and my PC on the desk in my room. I was about to make a movie,though it is short. But I did not care how it was going to happen. I just started.

The whole project has been developed in Autodesk Maya. From modelling to animation, all work has been done by me, including textures using Adobe Photoshop, compositing in Nuke(Non-commercial) and additional compositing and editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The original footages were rendered with Mentalray at the frame size of 1280×532.

All the sounds are from Youtube Audio Library. The Editing and Mixing have been done on Adobe Auditon CC. I have reached whatever level I could manage to. I am not a Sound Expert.

Total five compositions are there on the background music track.

1.  Judge and Jury from Audiomachine
Composer: Paul Dinletir

2. Diminishing Time from Audiojungle
Composer: rkmusic

3. Abandoned from Audiojungle
Composer: _Blacksmith_

4. Action Cartoon Music – Royalty FREE
Composer: Mattia Cupelli

5. Background Cartoon Music Loop – Royalty FREE
Composer: Mattia Cupelli
Go to Mattia Cupelli’s YOUTUBE Channel

Track No. 1, 2 and 3 are Licenced.
Track No. 4 and 5 are Royalty Free.

I edited and mixed them on Adobe Audition CC.


When I began to develope the project, I was much sure about the Mobile Buttons’ Movements. They would have four legs. Just that. I designed a button with four legs, rigged, tested and animated a bit. It worked well. They were simple. And there supposed to be no change.

But the question was on the other hand. The Computer Keyboard Keys. How they would move?! After trying several ideas, I came up with one soulution. Tentacle-like Legs. Like the Tripods have in ‘War of the Worlds’ (2005) film. I designed a keaboard key with three tentacle-like legs, rigged, tested and animated a bit. It worked well too. And there supposed to be no change also. Thus I developed all the keys on the keyboard the same way.

The problem arised that time. There were five to six controls on each leg which contains a large amount of polygons on its geometry to be flexible. That made the whole scene significantly heavy. Not just to work on it but to render also. So I had to think again.

After a few days of working and tweaking, I finaly managed to reorder the things to the ease. It was an interesting idea to design moving parts of keys the way it was for the mobile buttons, but with a different aspect.

A button was designed with four simple legs and the key was designed with two human-like legs and two pointy hands. Now this added depth to the key’s character. Because they were supposed to be more powerful like humans than the four legged buttons which ressemble animals.

Sometimes the process of making itself delivers a significant value to the story than the final draft has. You never know.

In the making of the short, for me, Cinematography was quite exciting as I found it an effective way of storytelling rather than just camera angles. In the making process, many times I found myself directing it through Cinematography or say, as Cinematographer.

I was so sure for Anamorphic format to render(shoot) most of the shots. But not with just one format but with different ones too as required. Besides that I am so fascinated with Imax ratio. I used the ratio 2.40:1 which was quite efficient and normal enough for the actual flow for most parts of short as well as 16:9 for few virtual recording sequences which were quite relevant to the core characteristic of the subject, i.e. Mobile Phones.

Cinematography has played a very significant role in making this short. Because, the surrounding environment i.e. the actual set was designed in real world scale on 3D platform. And I was to shoot buttons which are very small in size compared to the other objects in scenario.

I had to manage the cameras to shoot in such a manner that the Buttons would fill the frame as real life scale character and not some tiny little drops o plastic.

There are few shots which were shoot with same angles and movements for both the Buttons and keys seperately , the shots for Buttons are with normal aperture as well as the shots for Keys are with larger aperture as to deliver their characteristics.

When there are no words, music speaks. Background score added fundamental depth to flow of this short. The characters don’t speak in here, so the expressions and emotions of overall scenes had to rely mostly on Music.

At the first attempt, I started to look for the BG Score, appropriate music on the Internet. While roaming on YouTube, I found Audiomachine’s track ‘Judge and Jury’ which captured me with feelings of most of the scenes I wanted to express. Besides that I kept searching for other compositions too. ‘Judge and Jury’ stuck till the end and it became the fundamental theme of the short.

Meanwhile, I don’t know from where it came to mind that I would compose music myself. So I tried. I began with various tools and tutorials and that brought me to severe frustration. Finaly I came to know that I could not compose. But have been having singnificantly good sense of Music since I started watching movies. So I get back to the first method, to search on web and find good compositions.

Finding appropriate music is one thing and to fit into a scene to make it more subtle is different thing. This was where the sense of music came into account. I edited tracks aaccording to the scene and sometimes I edited the scenes for the paticular music accordingly.

I found ‘Diminishing Time’ from Audiojungle which became the very initial track to express regret of buttons for their act as well as the feeling of achieving glory and conquering somthing as it followed. But at the sametime this track also delivered a childish nature of conquering mind.

‘Abandoned’ which is also from Audiojungle gave the scene to express tragedy of surviving with lost of everything.

The process of editing the sounds was not difficult but it was bloody hectic I felt while working on Sounds. Because for this short there was too much to do.

Each button has four legs and I wasn’t about to mix and edit sounds randomly for their steps. But for each button in the shot has particular sounds to its steps putting on the floor with its own characteristics. Keyboard Keys are in queue anyway.

I went through various sources for suitable sounds on web. But I found YouTube Audio Library a subtle solution. Each original sound was from YouTube Audio Library.
All the sounds in the short were then derived from these raw sounds.

I am not a sound designer nor a mixer/editor. But somehow I managed to give all the characters their expressions through these sounds.

In the beginning sequence, where all buttons marched towards the phone, I derived, edited and mixed all the necessary sounds in application called Wave Editor. The application dose not have Video Panel for video reference. So I had to figure out the exact location of the sequence on timeline in a different application each time and then I could judge that particular time location in Wave Editor’s timeline to put sound accordingly. This particular sound sequence of initial first minute was developed as such.

But afterwards, I experimented on Audacity too for a while and finally shifted to Adobe Audition.

From the very beginning I was sure about the look of scenario which was supposed to be realistic, though the characters would have arms and legs, and above all they were supposed to move. Which meant they would not speak. So I had to figure out how they were going to interact which each other. The reply was simple.

They would interact the way we people use to do so via phones and computers. The messaging or chatting. I tried various formats and styles of messaging. The interacting conversation manner was to be common between the two groups but also differed from each other at the same time.

Both the buttons and keys would interact with each other in the same manner. The only difference was to put between buttons and keys, popping words from the buttons were to be lower case letters only and the style of delivered language would be somewhat abbreviated. Whereas the keys would deliver the conversation in upper case letters only and very absolute. The words for buttons would be simple as on the other hand for the keys, the words would pop out having ” “double quotes and end with ; semicolon.

The popped up conversations also differed with the particular sounds for each group.

Too many visuals were running in my mind for where would this drama happen. I was actually about to set it on a desk as the characters needed small amount of ground about size of desk. My initial approach was to provide enough room on desk for the characters surrounded by usual stuff like computer set, few books, some stationery items, etc.. with dark backdrop and a spot light on desk. So there supposed to just desk in the scene.

But I needed more as I wanted to give cinematographic process more room and variety. I dropped the idea of just a desk in the frame and started working on new ideas. Finally I came up with an idea of developing a whole room accumulating all the usual stuff a room could have.

Of course, I just had to deal with desk only as the story took place on it. But the surrounding in the room gave more natural approach to the whole drama. As somethings are not actively required but play the significantly notable role passively.

The story is about the Conflict between Old and New. I put two monitors, one was the old CRT monitor and the other was that TFT one to resemble the conflict. There laid a computer cabinet which was left open by facing side which gave extra depth to scene and visible parts inside the cabinet provided the feeling of harshness of happening.

If someone is about to make an animated short individualy, of what duartion would it be? 3 minutes? 5 minutes? or 6. But what if it longs for 10 minutes? Maybe it depends how much shuff is there to animate.

Well making this short, I designed whole envirnment, set, textured all of them, staged, made every character and rigged each. That was one time job. It didn’t bother me. But the most hectic part was to Animate all of them. There were 15 buttons as well as 13 plus keyboard keys to animate.

Each button had five controls to animate. In some shots, I had to animate every button i.e. total 75 controls to deal with. Some of the shots were of 10 seconds. Initilly it was taking average 35 minutes to animate single button for 10 seconds shot. Gradually I grew fast.

On the other hand a key consisted of 9 plus 3 sub-controls. There were many shots including some 10 seconds long where I had to animate each 13 keys i.e. about 156 controls to handle.

Initially I was about to keep its duration about 4 to 5 minutes. But as I figured during the process it would not be enough span to convey the story. So I just kept working shot by shot no matter how long it was going to be.

That’s how it reached to 11 minutes.

While studying Animation, in one of the seminars I was attending, a speaker was guiding about animation production process and teamwork. She told once no one could make a short film individually. I would think OK.

But that’s not a reason why I made this short as an individual to prove anything to anyone or myself. That’s not a concern anyway. But I have always been passionate about films and making ones.

I was doing a lot of stuff regarding 3D Animation. Initially I used to design vehicles, set, houses, interiors, etc.. I had animated some characters by the time being, but not so well.

One fine day I suddenly came up with Idea of these button phones and touch screen phones conflicting. So I made my mind to present it as drama. In spite of the fact that there was no team, I started to work anyway by myself.

Though Buttons and Keys are different characters of different intelligence and aspects, they depict much of the nature of a human mind, the way it works or functions. It is a sad Truth in many aspects of not accepting Change. So inferior to make itself destructive on finding its position riddled. Most of the time it prefers to stick to convenience by remaining in the safe zone and not to explore new horizons. Buttons are inferior whereas Keys have egoistic phenomena of destruction.

And finally, now I know it is possible to make short individually.

© 2017 Viral Chaudhari.