Alone in a Digital World

Meleah Maynard

Motion graphics artist Taehoon Park describes his latest sci-fi short “0110.”

Before moving to Los Angeles in 2018 to be a lead motion graphics designer at The Mill, Taehoon Park was living in South Korea and working as a motion graphics/animation artist at Giantstep. It was Park’s short film, “Dreaveler,” that got him the job at The Mill and—a little over three years later—he has returned to freelancing and working on personal project that continue to get him noticed.

Park’s latest film “0110”—which was made with Cinema 4D, After Effects, Redshift, Marvelous Designer and ZBrush—has won numerous awards, including the Indie Filmmaker Awards, the International SciFi & Fantasy Film Festival and Hollywood Gold Awards.

We talked with Park about the making of the film, which tells the story of what happens when machines develop their own digital world where humans are no longer necessary or wanted. Only one human, known as D-6, survives by grafting his body with machinery, ensuring a lonely eternal life.

Tell us about how your first film led to the job at The Mill.

Park: I made “Dreaveler” for the Pause Festival in 2018 and that got me the job offer from The Mill. Moving to Los Angeles was surreal for me, especially since The Mill had always been one of my dream companies to work with as they’re one of the best VFX studios in the world.

I worked with a lot of amazing artists, which was very inspiring. As a lead motion graphics designer in the design department, I got to work on TV commercials, game trailers, title designs and much more. But I still had time for personal projects, which I think are very important as an artist. Personal projects have led me to where I am now, and no one would know who I am without them.

What inspired you to make “0110”?

Park: I've always wanted to make a sci-fi concept artwork, and I’m a huge fan of dystopian sci-fi films, such as “Blade Runner 2049,” “The Matrix” and “Ghost in The Shell.” It took almost a year to finish this film. I changed the concept a couple of times, while also dealing with client work, but it was worth it. I learned a lot and moved up a level as an artist.

It wasn’t easy to create a two-and-a-half-minute animation on my own, but the challenges made me grow. Two minutes and thirty seconds is not a lot of time to tell a story, but I think this film does convey the lonely, empty feelings D-6 experiences after being left along in a quiet world.

Describe your process for making the film.

Park: My work process is a bit rough. I tend to do a design exploration first rather than a regular step-by-step process. For “0110” I created a cool-looking sci-fi character and concepted a sci-fi environment to match. The environment process took a long time as I wanted to create something unique.

I started by collecting a bunch of references from movies and mixing them together in Cinema 4D to come up with some weird ideas. Next, I made a lot of animation tests that weren’t based on any kind of story. I was just trying to get interesting and realistic movement.

I put all of the animation tests into Premiere Pro and played with the timing and editing. A lot of ideas come up for me during that process as I play around with clips. That’s when I started building a story, adding shots as they made sense. I like to add details and push everything as much as I can during that time. I used C4D about 90 percent of the time, Marvelous Designer for clothes and ZBrush for skin details. I bought most of the models for environments online and kitbashed them to make them unique.

Say more about how you created the character.

I wanted to create a sci-fi character that looked like he had no emotion, so you couldn’t tell what he was thinking. That’s why I designed the goggles that covers his eyes. The yellow light in goggles was inspired by the movie “Prometheus.”

For the high-quality human models, I used a base male model from 3D Scan Store and adjusted the shape and texture in ZBrush.
The most difficult parts were cloth simulation and character animation. The biggest reason the concept completely changed in the middle of production was character animation.

In the initial concept, the character moved a lot and required a cloth simulation. With so many things to do, it wasn’t easy to get the job done and I took a break for about six months. Eventually, I changed the concept to be more efficient, which is why in the final version the character is always sitting in a chair and most of the shots are close-up. That made animation much easier and I was able to add camera shake to reduce any awkwardness of the animation.

The film has won many awards. Tell us about those and the feedback you’ve received.

Park: When I finished the film, I submitted it to 38 film festivals. I won eight top awards, was a finalist three times and a semifinalist two times. Some awards are still in the judging process, and I'm pretty happy about all of this because this is the first time I’ve submitted my work to film festivals.

Do you have new personal projects in the works?

Park: Yes, I'm working on a couple of sci-fi projects, but I haven’t been able to spend as much time on them as I’d like because I've been pretty busy freelancing. But I plan to push hard in 2022.

Meleah Maynard is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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