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A study on the behavior of energy over a period of time.
Aeon is an abstract audio-visual immersive film experience created using experimental 2D/3D animation techniques.
The film was produced as a stereoscopic 3D theater experience, which premiered in May 2016 at the Dodge College Folino theater.

AEON screened in over 35 film festivals internationally in 2016 & 2017.
Derek O'Dell
Director / Animator - Twitter
Created the concept and produced all visuals for Aeon.
Passionate about creating unique and memorable experiences.
Jason Gallaty
Composer / Sound Designer - Twitter
Created an original composition for the film Aeon.
Known for audio on:
Times End and Kena Bridge of Spirits

Special Thanks
Friends & Family:
Zara Abraham, Sophia Bui, Tony Yin, Jawuan Michlein, Mali De'lisser, Francisco Berrones.
Mom, dad, sister & all of my supportive family.

Adriana Figueroa.

Chapman Dodge College Faculty:
Bill Kroyer, Judy Krieger, Adam Rote, Sue Kroyer, Ruth Daly, Gamma Hernandez, KC Wayland.

Chapman Filmmaker in Residence:
Don Hahn
How it started
Hi, I'm Derek! Click on the number tabs to see various production topics for Aeon!

During my free time at Chapman, I would open up toonboom and animate doodles frame by frame like shown above. When it came time to start working on our graduation thesis films, a friend recommended that I make a short film in this style. I started brainstorming to figure out how I could make these animated doodles more interesting.
Initial 2D Post FX Exploration
My early experiments explored ways I could enhance my style of drawn animations.
(Tap the numbers on image to progress)
  1. Frame by frame drawn line animation.
  2. Adjust color, add glow, add reflection.
  3. Set a 3D camera, rotate the 2D animation in 3D.
  4. Duplicate animation and add layers at various depths to text parallax.
Further Exploration
Here I was seeing if I could make interesting results with animations that were a bit more complicated than a simple line moving around. I discovered some methods that I liked!
  1. Frame by frame drawn line animation.
  2. Adjust color, add glow.
  3. Duplicate the animation, 3D rotate, 3D camera movement.
  4. Same animation as #3, but the camera is still at a top-view perspective.
Working w/ Sound & Creating the Pipeline
The video above is where I made some key production discoveries! There was trial and error, but it served as a guide for how I would approach creating the rest of AEON.

  • Music Timing:
    The "dot" keyframe timing helped me animate faster. I enjoy to freestyle straight ahead frame-by-frame, so seeing the dots on an alternate layer served as a useful guide. I made a lot of these keyframe guides for Aeon.
  • Stereoscopic 3D Pipeline:
    Early on I decided to make Aeon viewable in 3D, (in theater with 3D glasses). I wanted Aeon to feel immersive and like it's literally coming at you!  So after I draw all of the frames in 2D, the animation is split up and rotated in 3D space to move "closer" and "further" away from the screen. There was a lot of technical pipeline learnings that went into this.
  • Stereoscopic 3D Learnings:
    Because Aeon was created with the theater experience in mind first, there were a lot of observations I during the trail and error in this test, that made its way to the film:

    - Black background is WAY better on the eyes in 3D, so I pivoted to that.
    - It's exhausting on the eyes to animate things coming closer & further too fast.
    - If it's necessary to go fast, (in distance), create a trail or ripple that stays in place.
Really pushing the POSt FX
I became really interested in ways that I could create something in 2D, then tweak it to be unrecognizable, but still maintain the velocity, timing, and appeal for it to be satisfying to watch with music. There's a handful of effects in Aeon that most people don't recognize started from my line drawings!
Aeon was created with the 3D-glasses theater viewing experience in mind. Above is Aeon in the stereoscopic 3D format if you have a compatible device to view it in!

The way all 3D movies work, is that there's a video export from the "left" and "right" eye. Then those two videos are overlay on top of each other which the 3D glasses can separate each of those videos appropriately to each eye. To simplify the production of it on my end, I had to create a second digital camera that was pushed slightly to the side to mimic the distance between the human eye.

The recommended 3D viewing experience for Aeon is the big screens, but it was fun finding alternate ways to watch the film in 3D. I've been able to view in 3D through VR headsets and even a Nintendo 3DS!
VR - 3D - 360° VIDEO Version Testing
Shortly after starting Aeon in 2015, I experienced virtual reality with an Oculus DK2 for the first time. I made it a goal to make this film VR compatible.

Back in 2015, the technology was new, and my pipeline was mostly theory, but I prepared the project, cameras, and technical pipelines in order to make it possible for Aeon to export in 360°. In 2016/2017, there was a lot of innovation in the VR industry, and I was able to create test exports like the one above.

But it was fairly complex to get it to work. I had to render 12 camera positions (left, right, top, bottom, middle, back, (6) for both left & right eye (12) placements), then stitch those different angles into a single video file, then it's viewable in VR. I would take notes and edit errors, then repeat the export process. The 12 camera export was daunting, because the first minute of my film takes around 8 hours to export. So 96 hours or 4 days straights- to get a final video output, which might be riddled in errors and need a re-export...? I was searching for alternate solutions..

This pipeline to make these VR test exports was fairly improvised by me. There was a lot of 360° video tools coming out, but no stereoscopic 360° camera/export. support. I thought 360° video was terrible in VR, and I wasn't happy with my 3D 360 results. I assumed at the time that it was probably me who was doing something wrong with the camera pipeline, but I've come to accept 6 DoF is necessary for VR. So whether or not 6DoF video exports will ever be possible with a film like Aeon, who knows, but I think the VR production answer for the future is to work with real time engines such as Unreal or Unity.

The Audio Experimentation
I reached out to Jason Gallaty to compose an original song for AEON. The main direction I provided was to have the ending of the song similar to the beginning, and to have a lot of "mix-ups". I wanted there to be contrast in both the tempo and genre of music that would enable me to create a wide variety of visuals. I probably overwhelmed Jason with references of different genres and songs I enjoyed: experimental, hip-hop, edm, anime, gaming, and his own prior work.

After that initial direction, I trusted Jason to take full creative control of producing the song! He was extremely collaborative in the process, he would send me experiments and drafts where we would go back and forth on our thoughts for how to proceed. Below is some of the early concepts that Jason shared with me! You can listen to how certain sounds were experimented on, and also some great work that was unfortunately scrapped, due to pursuing a different direction for final film. Enjoy!

You can support Jason's work on Bandcamp, and follow him on his social channels - Twitter , YouTube , Facebook
What is this film supposed to be about?
I wanted to experiment with visuals & sounds. Then I just kind of winged it.

Ok... but seriously, what is it?
"A study on the behavior of energy over a period of time" is the vague and brief answer, I like it vague so that people can derive their own meanings. But more concisely, my aim was to externalize my personal mental state through both visuals and sounds. This film is very me, I poured in a lot of soul into the making!

Why did you make it?
I attended Chapman University with a BFA in Digital Arts, AEON was my final thesis project. I was struggling with the 3D film pipeline in school, Then I had college friends who suggested that I create something similar to Michel Gagne's Sensology.  I loved the concept and then immediately thought of my friend Jason Gallaty to do the music. I told myself that I would have to give up on this idea if he wasn't interested in collaborating. Good thing he said yes!

Any inspirations?
Primarily Michel Gagne's Sensology short film. I was entranced my first time viewing, and I was incredibly inspired to give my own spin! The other inspiration would be hobbyist flash animators who I followed on Newgrounds when I was younger, I self-taught myself flash animation in my teens. Specific shoutout to Miccool's awesome effects!

This project is 4 years old (2016). why did it take so long to release? (2020)
My original goal was to release three formats of Aeon at the same time: (2D, Stereoscopic 3D, VR). I spent a lot of time on/off figuring out how to make the VR version work, but there were too many technical hurdles. More explanation on the technical obstacles in the Behind The Animation section.

What's next?
I do business development and finance full-time for a videogame development company, Well Told Entertainment! Occasionally I get to poke in and help out with animation, so maybe I can show off my work on a Well Told game sometime! But at the moment, I have no personal projects planned. Any updates will likely happen either on my twitter or personal website.

More Questions?
Feel free to reach casually on Twitter! DMs are open there.

Email/Press/Business inquiries, check additional info.