July 10, 2010 was a warm Saturday afternoon. Around 2:30 pm I was just getting ready to go to a party down by the river. The sun was shining and, as usual, the birds were filling the atmosphere with joyful chirping. Andre, one of my best friends, was driving his motorcycle between the beautiful mountains in Switzerland. I called him to make sure he was not going to be late to pick me up at 7 pm. Over the phone, it sounded he was having a blast with his brand new motorcycle. He told me he was ready to get back on the road after eating lunch. A few minutes later, I remembered I forgot to tell him to bring something to drink, and I tried to call him again. He did not answer.
At around 5:00 pm, my phone rang. I thought, "Ah, thank god Andre is calling me, some beers tonight would be great." It was not Andre. It was another friend who was with him on the road. He seemed scared and worried. He told me there had been an accident, and that Andre was badly hurt. My first thought was that this was a bad joke.
However, his voice did not change. It was still worried, still scared. I packed my things. Called my dad, mom, and grandparents, while constantly reminding myself that he was going to be fine. My friend called me back, and picked me up. We drove three hours to Luzern, a city in the middle of Switzerland where there is a specialized hospital for paraplegic people.
Andre fractured his spinal cord and the possibilities to walk again disappeared once we talked to the first doctor we saw, during the first minute we arrived at the hospital. His family, his girlfriend, and I spent the rest of the summer with him in his hospital room. The atmosphere was always tense; I never knew what to say or to do. He kept playing with this old and scratched Rubik's cube, asking for bigger, newer, and more complicated ones.
The cube for him was just a game, but for me, it was such a symbolic way to express that even if he was not walking anymore, he could still use his hands. Every minute was a challenge as he tried to beat the clock, but he was never satisfied.
It was an old and simple object to me that expressed the way people try to "fix" things, trying to have all the sides of their life of the same color, perfectly complete, and in a short amount of time. People tend to look at their lives overall. The workplace needs to be pleasant, the money needs to flow smoothly into bank accounts, and girlfriends or boyfriends need to resemble beautiful angels or prince charming. Instead, I think that it would be better to concentrate and appreciate the smaller things in life and be grateful for them. The sides that are completed first, from that correct angle, make the cube seem entirely complete.
This is when I started to think about a story to share with the world-Broken Wing.
Broken Wing is an emotional story between two friends who are extremely different, one is energetic and confident, and the other is clumsy and unhappy. However, time passes and a life-changing experience switches their roles. It is a journey through childhood memories, which shows how one friend motivates the other to see the brighter side of life.
The inspiration for the environments of Broken Wing came from the city of Luzern, one of the main cities in the German part of Switzerland. We studied the traditional architecture, in addition to understanding the local landmarks and natural environments. To design two contrasting worlds, one sad and hopeless, and the other cheerful and happy, we played with perspective, shapes, and color. The present world is represented by a claustrophobic and depressing city, with tall and distorted buildings, desaturated colors, and angular shapes. For the world of the past, natural environments were created with curved shapes, and warm and bright colors that create the perfect mood for childhood memories.
Layout Design Lead Lilit Atshemyan
Broken Wing follows the story of two friends: Hans Keller and Bill Hawking. Keller is clumsy, overweight, and not extremely successful in anything he does. Therefore, he is sad and hopeless. When Hawking was a child, he was the clever and lucky among his friends. He always did everything right and conquered any challenge he faced with ease.
However, life changes their situations. This is what forces Keller to step up, and try to show his friend the brighter side of life.
To explain the story in Broken Wing, we introduced two objects that we treated as characters: a butterfly and a Rubik's cube. The nature of the secondary characters strongly embraces the personalities of both Keller and Hawking, while simultaneously creating a balance throughout the movie.
Character Design Lead Stephanie Kardjian
Broken Wing had six main characters to animate: Young Hawking, Young Keller, Old Hawking, Old Keller, The cube, and the butterfly. Each character had been assigned to an animator, and Stephanie Kardjian (Lead Character Designer) would overlook them to make sure they would look the same throughout the movie.
In order to maintain the perspective while the cube was turning and twisting, we recreated the cube in a 3D software, printed each frame, and traced them on paper. All the butterflies in Broken Wing have been created digitally.
Animation By Stephanie Kardjian, Nikitha Mannam, Jeff Nao, Angela Walker
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The charming sound of "Broken Wing" was designed and composed by Mark Slater. He created two theme fragments for the film. One represents the movement of a butterfly. Open and ambiguous, it poses a question throughout the film which finally becomes music of optimism and friendship.
The other attempts to evoke something reminiscent of childhood, simple in style, charming and nostalgic. Giving the theme to the piano, creates the idea of a music box and the waltz time because of its circular rhythm, represents the dance between the characters in the film and the persistence of a faded memory.
You can find more of Mark's work here:
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