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A young boxer ponders about the world of boxing while fighting for the championship belt.
There are three main goals I wanted to achieve to this film. First of all, I aimed to capture in a film some of my own experiences in the world of boxing. Secondly, I wanted to play with the black and white, the light and the darkness. My last goal was to explore the movement of the human body, especially in slow motion, and to experiment and discover new techniques to recreate slow motion in animation.
The whole idea behind this film is to offer the viewer a first person, immersive experience of a boxing fight, and everything we see is designed to achieve that: the close ups, the use of the light, the sound, the narration…. Everything tries to take us as close to the combat as possible, and even, at times, inside the mind of one of the boxers.
The story is actually quite simple, a young boxer fights for the title of champion, but during the fight he keeps thinking about how, despite like boxing, he is disgusted by the constant screaming of the fans, the useless advise of each coach, and all the charade that comes with every boxing fight. Then at some point he gets knocked down, and during the brief moment of his fall, which we experience in super slow motion, he ponders about if it is really worth it to fight so hard to get a belt.
The way the story is told defines the very structure of the film, which is divided in two parts. First, a succession of fast boxing scenes, with short, energetic thoughts. And a second part, after being knocked down, that happens all in slow motion, and the monologue goes much more quiet, relaxed and reflexive.
The design aspect is very straight forward, it was very important to being able to differentiate the boxers from each other, and I achieve that by making them very different in their faces, their bodies, and even the way they move, and their boxing styles. The rest of the characters are design to look realistic, but very static, to contrast to the fast, continuous movements of the boxers. The whole film is pure black and white, with influences of the noir and, of course, the Sin City graphic novels. This is a style I think fits pretty well with the general atmosphere of the movie, and it makes it easy to emphasize the crowd, or to isolate the two boxers when needed.
The sound is also very important to set the mood of the film, all the sounds made by the boxers were recorded in the Foley room: the breathing, the punches, the groans of pain… And they were combined with royalty free sounds used for the crowd, the cameras, etc. The sound, as the images, is design to bring us closer to what the main character is feeling, we hear his breathing when he is tired, we hear the constant screaming of the fans when he is annoyed by them… And then we also have a narration in voice over, which help us to understand not only what he is feeling, but also what is he thinking.
There is also two songs in the movie, one at the beginning, as part of the introduction of one of the boxers, and a second one, that will take the place of every other sound effect once the main character is knocked down, and will help to set this disorienting feeling as he falls in slow motion. The technical part was a very interesting process, particularly for the slow motion parts. I couldn’t find much of slow motion 2d animation to use as a reference. After much experimenting, the effect was achieve with a mixture of digital hand drawn in TV paint; and puppet tools and 3d cameras in after effects. All this gives the film a very unique style, and it helps to tell a story about boxing in a way it hasn’t been done before.
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