Cassette Futurism

“Stories which use a technological aesthetic reminiscent of the early 1980’s, regardless of the real time setting of the media. Most often found in the context of science fiction.”

Through the development of Cosmic Echo, our final year project, we have been building around the idea of a science fiction setting from the start, and with that came one style that each of us loved and wanted to use. Cassette Futurism.

As you can see above Cassette Futurism is very 80s, the very hard edged, simple and cubic design that has become a huge aesthetic in the resurgence of retro design. In today’s culture there has been a renaissance of 80’s tropes that can be seen throughout the world through fashion, movies, tv shows and general design. The vivid neon colours mixed with the simple colour palette of white, greys and blacks  is huge now and we want to capture that in our animation.

Some of the above images are going to be references for the environment we are going to be developing, the tight hallways, the low ceilings and the use of cubic computer systems with lots of light sources. Above are some shots taken from Alien, Star Wars and Akira. All of which are great examples of the cassette futurism that we are going to achieve. I will be doing a separate post on the development of the environments.


Presentation Reflection

After the presentation, Alec, Henry and Priya gave us some really great points to move forward with. Giving us options on how to proceed with the development of the monster by possibly removing the eye to take away the personal aspect of it as well as giving us a few books to read one of which was The Ressurectionist: The Lost Work and Writings of Doctor Spencer Black. They were all very happy with the development of the project so far and liked the story. For the next presentation they want to see development on the environment as well as some possible audio resources, Jordan recommend a program to Jack to allow us to create Monster noises, which will come in very handy.

Cosmic Echo

“We all make choices but in the end out choices make us” – Andrew Ryan

Finding our Idea

As we started our final year we began to develop our idea by asking the question “what if?”, and the what if that we all loved was what if something lived in a black hole. From here the idea snowballed, we developed further how the monster would be on the ship and if it would affect the interior of the ship, reversing the gravity of water droplets or completely changing the environment. We also looked why our main character would be on this ship and why would it be so close to a black hole? We then looked at how they would interact with the anomaly when they found it. Would they be scared or curious? Would then fight or flee? And on and on we kept developing our idea until we found ourselves enthralled by the idea of a time loop. From here we began to hone the idea and write up a story for it.

“In general relativity, an event horizon is a region in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer.”

In the end we had a few points that we knew that we had to have in the plot and ideas that we stuck with because of how fun it would be to play with.

  • Cause and Effect based animation
  • An audio cue to cause the loop to essentially start
  • A character that people can relate to
  • A Lovecraftian monster
  • Based around a black hole that causes time distortions

Building the Plot

“In the abyss of space, an inquisitive pilot seeks answers when her ship chances upon an impossible doorway into a black hole but only discovers that she must escape the monstrosity lurking within”

This is the shortened idea for our story however it took a lot of trial and error to get to this point. A lot. We learned a lot as a team about how hard it is to develop a story around a loop, as technically it doesn’t have a start or an end as they connect to become one in of itself, and because it’s a loop we found that starting the loop was difficult and anything found on the way would have to have a reason for being there in the first place. In one of the iterations we had the main character take a wrench from her room and drop it on the way which would cause the noise for the main character to hear again in the loop, which would be our audio cue. However we found we couldn’t do that because it would mean that every time the wrench dropped to the floor it would cause a pile of infinite wrenches, meaning that the wrench itself would be stuck in its own loop. We also messed around with the idea that what if we had more than one loop going on, and that there were 3 versions of her, one being lured, one being chased and one being caught, each would cause an audio cue whether it be a loud bang of dropping the wrench, or a scream from being grabbed, but it meant there would have to be more than one monster and it got some complicated so we went back to the idea of just one loop.

The Final Iteration

Our last version of the story was simplified enough to allow for a short animation but also push ourselves in terms of creating a fantastic 80’s inspired scene. We found the style called Cassette Furturism, it fit perfectly and was used in many of our references, 2 of the main ones being Alien and Alien Isolation. As the story progressed we found ourselves wondering what the monsters lair could be like, and we threw out the idea of a dungeon and we all loved it. Everyone in the group plays dungeons and dragons so it was a perfect blend of two of our favourite genres. Sci-Fi and Fantasy. We looked at several monsters one of which is called Jubilex, who is a shape shifting entity that appears as a mound of black goo. From here we moved closer to lovecraftian horror for the monsters lair, it just fit so well. “Lovecraftian horror is a sub genre of horror fiction that emphasises the cosmic horror of the unknown”, it was too perfect and the idea that this monster is an entity that lives in a black hole, one of the biggest if not the biggest mystery in the universe, just fit so well. We looked at some lovecraftian monsters and 3 stood out to us. The classic Cthulhu, The Blackness from the Stars and Shogguth. Ill add some descriptions below. But these were out main focus when developing the monster. After this we really had our story put together. We wanted it to start with the main character playing a game (Cosmic Echo), before being distracted by something banging on the door, after investigating further, being drawn further into the ship she finds an impossible hole through to the monsters lair, entering in she finds obelisks and terrible monstrosities that defy all sense of space for this ship, this area could not exist here. As she goes further in she finds a torch on the ground, picking it up she realises its her own, switching it on to reveal a brief shot of the monster, throwing her own flash light and dropping the second, the camera follows the thrown light as it rolls in front of a large pile of torches. As she flees from the monster and reaches the door, she bangs on it and looks through revealing herself, from the start of the animation, as the realisation dawns on her the monster grabs her, making the noise that cues her to leave the room. As it happens we cut to the title of the game Cosmic Echo.