Animation, Producer & Director

(Note: The content below was recreated as a fan film and this posting is for educational purposes only)

Case Study: Oblivion Interactive Screens

Overview of the project

In 2016 I spent several months with some friends recreating the screens from the movie Oblivion. This was a fan-film based project that relied on us remaking the User Interface panels from the movie. We relied heavily on reference images we received from the film and fan forums we located around the web. With this reference material, we then went to work recreating all of the art in vector format for animation purposes. 

While my friends Zac and Jay helped me with remaking all of the art, I started animating the items screen by screen and element by element, when they became available. I first started with the globes in this section, before moving on to other screens.  To keep this project organized, I felt that this was the best approach. It also made it more manageable when I needed to render out the completed piece. Pre-renders saved a good deal of time because we worked with 4K exports with videos that were 10 minutes long. The primary goal in this initial pass of animation was to match as best we could to the original film. So there was lots of analysis between the film and reference material. There were many moments in which we were trying to match frame by frame and other moments in which we had to use our best judgment.

Screen 1

The fun part about this project was that once we had recreated the art and animated it, we then created scenarios that match up with events that happened in chronological order as they occurred in the film. It was exciting to try and guess what Tom Cruise was doing in the movie or where the drones may be flying on each monitor. We did our best to try and make an extension of what was happening in the film Oblivion. For instance, in this particular scene, I animated Tom Cruise repairing the drone 166 as it happened in real-time in the movie. 

Screen 2

Screen 1

For Screen 1, I enlisted the help of my friend John to create all of the 3D Drones. The other elements on the screen I animated as repairs happened in the movie, or drones went missing. We also used this screen for a remote control we created to control all 4 of the screens.

One of the most complicated screens to render (because of all the constant motion of the red bars and many elements on the screen) was the second screen. Screen 2 was also the one screen where we were able to have a bit of fun. For the other three screens, they are primarily diagnostic screens. Screen 2 indicated the position of Tom Cruise (TECH 49) throughout the movie. In our particular scenarios, you can see him exit the pod and walk around. There is a moment in the recreated video in which TECH 49 slowly walks back across the screen after he suffers an attack when trying to find drone 172.  There are also moments when he is flying in the pod where he disappears off the map and suddenly reappears, which were fun to try and guess where he went or was. All of the flying drones match up with scenes in the movie as well. 

I enjoyed writing After Effects expressions and animating the elements on this screen. Specifically, I enjoyed creating the animation of the platform rotation on the far right of the audio waveform on the left.

Screen 2

Screen 2

Another example of After Effects expressions were the position of the rotating drones as they rotate around the Hydrarigs on Screen 3. I'm proud of this one, as it took a bit of time to figure out. Basically, the dots on Screen 3 were attached to the position of the drones on Screen 2, and the drones on Screen 2 were parented to a null that rotated them in a circle around the Hydrarigs. To keep the drones from turning along their path, I set them to auto orient towards the camera. All and all, this was one of the many fun challenges I tackled when animating these screens.

Screen 3

Screen 2

Here is another example of one of the scenes we animated from the movie on the second day in the film. Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough are awoken by one of the Hydrarigs blowing up.

We assumed that when a hydrarig blows up or goes down that it loses all power, which is what you see here. You can also see Tom Cruise in the pod heading to the area to survey the damage.

Screen 3

Screen 2

Screen 4

Finally, this was the last screen that we animated for the film, Screen 4. This screen stood straight up, rather than the others that were horizontal. This particular screen was used to indicate wind speed and velocity, and when the command station would have a signal with the Skytower 49. In many respects, it resembled a clock and was a pleasure to animate.

In the end, this was an enjoyable personal project that relied on help from dozens of people to make it happen. It's delightful when you can work with friends to recreate elements of some of your favorite films. Much like the people I worked with to make this possible. They recreate movie props like lightsabers, vehicles, or full-on costumes in their spare time. I feel that this recreation sits in that same camp. We remade copies of the original work from the movie. The original artwork created for the film Oblivion still belongs to the artist that made that possible. Like I stated before, this was just a series of screens created by fans for fans and nothing more. 

Animation - Patrick Flaherty
3D Modeling & Animation - John Lee
Graphic Design - Zac Saathoff & Jay Wise

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© 2024 Patrick Flaherty