The Nuremberg Rally is at its climax. Everyone is standing still to hear ADOLF’s oration. But suddenly a mishap freezes the Fuehrer.
Character & Story
‘ADOLF – The Mishap’ is a teaser, based on the same character starring in the first clip from 2005. The original idea came from Walter Moers, who had created the storyboard years before. This time, ADOLF would not wallow in self-pity, but would play his part as the big leader. In contrast to the first clip, ‘ADOLF – The Mishap’ was not conceived as a music video. This decision made the whole timing of the animation, as well as the editing much more crucial, as the gag really had to work without being able to rely on music, to create the entertaining flow. I tried to find a way to illustrate the greatest possible contrast between gigantism and littleness. One idea was to put the arena on a mountain in the Alps. This also helped to round off the story.
In the spring of 2011, Walter called me and informed me that David Groenewold was planning to create a crowd funding-platform and that he wanted a new teaser with the ADOLF-character for it. So he sent me the storyboard he had done seven years ago, and I started working on an animatic. I timed the scanned drawings, added a new intro and threw together a really trashy layout-sound and added some music from Wagner and Liszt. I sent it to Walter and he wrote back:
ich musste über meinen eigenen alten Scheiß lachen.
Ist das jetzt ein gutes oder ein schlechtes Zeichen?
Ich finde, das funktioniert ...
Which meant: “I had to laugh about my own old crap. Is that a good or a bad sign? I think it works …”
So after David also liked it, I knew I could start planning the production. It began in October of 2011 and finished in February of 2012. This short time period was only possible because I was fortunate enough to get the best people I know to work on the clip with me. I moved my computers to the Talking Animals Animation Studio in Berlin-Lichtenberg.
Walter’s storyboard already gave us a pretty precise impression about the emotional state of ADOLF.
Since the clip was planned to show epic dimensions, I changed the classic “Moers-Aspect-Ratio” from 4:3 to 16:9, and decided to make it in a 1080p resolution. The old clip had been done in PAL, which worked fine for the intimate bathroom setting, but this time we needed more screen-space to show that this is a serious teaser for an animated feature film.
The fact that the storyline goes from really huge to very small also demanded a proper technical approach, which Dennis Rettkowski developed. We used Renderman ProServer to achieve the combination of the photo-surrealistic sets and the cartoony characters. We really had to consider render times, as we only had two licenses, and only had two machines for 3D-renders. We needed ray traced shadows, radiosity, sub-surface scattering, hair and fluid effects. We also had to fill the arena with about 80.000 animated soldiers. This is nothing special for a big studio, but for us it posed a bit of a challenge. The soldiers are actually cardboard characters; in German we say “Pappkamerad”. Dennis made it possible to run several animated sequences through some randomization algorithms, and integrated the cardboard characters in Nuke.
First we used a simulated fluid system for the drop, but I liked Walter’s drawings of the slow-motion splash more than a physical simulation, because they were funnier. Thus, Dennis gave me a setup with good old metaballs, and I animated the splash using scaled and stretched spheres.
Carsten Sommer, who had created the maquettes* for the old clip, also did a great job sculpting HERMANN and also in building the miniature-set for the bedroom (please see the slide show pictures, there is so much love for detail in it!). We decided that we wanted a “real” environment for the scene where ADOLF wakes up. We felt it would add authenticity and charm that would have been much harder to achieve in a full-CG version. We used photographs for the background plates -since there is no moving camera. To achieve a homogenous combination of the background and the characters, Carsten and Franz Lindinger also made individual photographs of the set, with both interior and exterior lighting. This way Dennis was able to create the right look for the animated shadows on the bed sheets.
*figurine of a character, made out of clay or other sculpting materials.
Idea, Characters & Lyrics
Voice “Adolf“ & “Blondi“
Narrator (German & English)
Character Modeling & Texturing
Rendering & Compositing
Sound Design & Mix
Talking Animals Berlin
German Federal Film Board
Length 2’59” min
Format 16:9 | 1080p | color | 25 fps | stereo sound | animated teaser