Watch Trunk's exceedingly shipshape animated short film

How Trunk's Alasdair + Jock created an engaging animated short for the International Maritime Organisation.

After creating a film to celebrate the Day of the Seafarer for the International Maritime Organization, Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney were chuffed when they were asked to create another short for the IMO

This time a short was needed to draw attention to the IMO’s role in protecting the world’s ocean environment. Overseeing the transportation of 12 billion tonnes of freight to every continent on earth requires the IMO to actively work with environment, academic and government agencies to embed environmental protocols and best practice initiatives across the entire planet.

Building on the success of the previous film, a concept, script and look were developed that gave the Trunk team a lot of creative freedom. The short forms part of an educational pack that will engage and start a conversation about the oceans environment with children aged 9-14 in the classroom.

Created using Photoshop, Flash and After Effects the short has become one of Alasdair + Jock's favourite works, enabling them to be involved in every element of the production from script through animation to sound design.

Working on a film for this particular target audience was new territory for the team.

“We have never created something entirely for children before but adapting our style to engage with such a young age group was a joyful process,” said Mooney. “Both me and Alasdair ended up putting a lot of work into the short that was not perhaps strictly necessary, but we became engrossed in the details.”

For the sharp eyed there is a reference to ‘Blinky’ the three-eyed fish from The Simpsons, while some of the hand drawn textures have been influenced by Japanese printed textiles.

“The boat went through 15 different incarnations before we cracked it,” said Brotherston. “The tooting funnel was lifted straight from the early Disney classic Steamboat Willie.

“We wanted a boat that was not babyish or too simplistic yet would not be too realistic” Mooney added. “We wanted the short to be engaging without being schoolmarmish or preachy”

Advertisement. Article continues below

A highlight for both directors was working with Joanna Scanlan, who provided the voiceover. Composer Daniel Pemberton provided the score, while Fonic provided the sound and mix.

Alasdair Brotherston dealt with the night time section of the film whilst Jock Mooney took care of the opening and ending.

“I have to admit that I leant quite heavily on a project called Map Table by Celyn Brazier, which has one of the best palettes I've seen in an illustrative animation,” said Brotherston. “We always spend a lot of time on colour, its something we both feel we are strong on so it usually involves quite a bit of back and forth.”

It was necessary to design in Flash as the infinitely scalable nature of the assets was needed for the way we strung the piece together, “said Brotherston. “Even though this was 90 per cent digital we did create some hand-drawn textures and patterns to break things up a bit, these were done in a variety of fine tips, marker pens and pencil.”

“In terms of compositing its actually quite light, there's really not that much going on. The design is really tight so we wanted as much of the animation as possible done in quite a traditional keyframed way, rather than using compositing short cuts.”

“I would be really interested to develop our naughty boat character into something a bit more multi faceted should the opportunity arise.”

Advertisement. Article continues below