A father’s dangerous mission to save his son isn’t what it really seems.

We surprisingly got to know Ray and Ando when the online magazine The Verge called us to adapt Elizabeth Bonesteel’s short story Overlay into a three-minute animation short film which would be the last episode of “Better Worlds”, a science fiction series project involving the feeling of hope. When we read Bonesteel’s story, both the VR game’s dystopian imaginary and the whole narrative’s social undertone inspired us and made us feel enthusiastic about the project.

Overlay deals with the revolutionary idea of using VR applications for palliative care treatments. In the story, a brave father, Ray, must face a group of devil guards and weaponed robotic drones in order to bring Ando, his son, back. In the high time of the mission, the plot twist breaks in: Ando appears in a white room next to Ray, who is intubated, lying down on a hospital stretcher. Still waters run deep, just as Overlay’s bigger picture finally conveys its completely human cornerstone.

Technical approach

Overlay’s short story brought us a powerful creative rush, and we rapidly imagined an immense visual universe for it. Our biggest challenge was to shorten the original story and suit it into a three-minute film. We felt compelled to choose the most relevant information and discard those layers of content that we knew we couldn’t properly develop. Due to this laborious filtering process, we found necessary to optimize the work-flow, so we settled on cel animation, yet combining it with solid 3D backgrounds that would bear a wider sense of space and perspective. The spirit of the short film (read: secret agent action movie) got influences from the sci-fi anime movie classics, hence the retro concept style. The core of the whole creative process was to hit the right mood for the plot twist: cut off the “action movie” type of feeling and turn it into an emotional story.

Directed by

Device

Produced by

BOL

Executive Producer

Marcello Buselli

Based on the story by

Elizabeth Bonesteel

Illustration

Device

Animation

Device, David Feliu, Sebastian Garcia, Jong-Ha Yoon & Karol Szczepankiewicz

Creative Director

William Joel

Screenplay

William Joel

Clean up

Device, Luke Etcheverry, Sergi Ros, Sheila Hattaf, Jong-Ha Yoon, Karol Szczepankiewicz & Demian Garnero

Creative Direction

The Verge

Ray

Kyle Stewart

Ando

Michael McDaniel

Music

Sono Sanctus

Sound Design

Ambrose Yu

Executive Producers

Eleanor Donovan & Nilav Patel

Supervising Producers

Sophie Erickson

Production Manager

Meg Toth

Editorial Director

Helen Havlak

General Manager

Steven Belser

Network Manager

Sarah Bishop Woods

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