This watercolour-textured animation harks back to 1980s children's shows

Trunk & Peepshow's animated short was created in Cinema 4D and After Effects, with its hand-painted watercolour textures giving it the feel of 80s sci-fi TV shows like Battle of the Planets.


Saving Joule is a fantastic piece of classic animation by Pete Mellor, director of Trunk and The Peepshow Collective, created as part of an educational project for Saudi children.

The short was commissioned by The Edge Picture Company, looking to produce an animation for KCA London and its client, the Mishkat Interactive Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Saudi Arabia.

Directed by Pete Mellor and produced/art directed by Miles Donovan, the film is aimed at 6 to 10 year olds and tells the story of Joule, an adorable robot trying to power his ship and rejoin his lost fleet.

He is assisted in his search by a friendly alien who shows him that there are alternative energy sources available such as solar, wind and nuclear power.

Nick Canner, creative director at The Edge, wrote the film’s initial story line.

This was fleshed out during the production process with the help of the team at Peepshow who worked out more of the narrative structure and flow of the film.


A fabulous child-friendly palette designed by Spencer Wilson is used throughout the short, with solid colours for the main characters.

This was juxtaposed against textured backgrounds that are reminiscent of the illustrations in 1960’s books about space.

The backgrounds were created by Luke Best who created lots of hand-painted, watercolour textures to obtain that particular look.

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"The design and colours within the film had to look as if they had come from an alien world," explained Pet Mellor. "It was also important to the client that each landscape had a unique palette."

"It was interesting that Luke designed a whole forest of mushroom-like trees, which meant nothing to the Saudi client as mushrooms are not native to that part of the world.”


Working to a tight schedule the short was created using Cinema 4D and After Effects, with animation and compositing by Mellor, Chris Sayer and Jason Arber.

The animation is accompanied by a soaring and majestic score put together by Simon Keep from Holkham Sound Design studio using Audio Network’s huge library of orchestral tracks.


With a few nods to great sci-fi classics such as WALL•E, Avatar and Star Wars the short is full of humour, tension and jeopardy.

The finished film will be shown exclusively to visitors on the Mishkat Centre’s hi-tech, 18 metre wide screen in Riyadh.

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