The project

THE BRIEF

With this brief we take a different approach. Rather than offer a theme that requires you to generate the content, we are directing you towards existing content - the Victorian (1884) novella Flatland by the English schoolmaster Edwin A. Abbott.

Your task is to produce a proposal for a new edition of Flatland that doesn't necessarily engage with the conventions of 'the book' as we understand them, although it may have text matter, pagers and cover - or not. It could be a pamphlet, a chapbook, a poster, a landscape, a happening, a dream, an installation, a text, a sound piece, an animation, a moment.

Interpret the text typographically - you can be as ambitious as you wish to be, but you must deal with the full contents of at least one chapter and show how the rest of the text would develop.

There are no restrictions, no conventions, no rules, no given formats. Static work, moving image, physical, virtual, ephemeral are all up to you, as is the navigation of the piece, its viewer/reader/user engagement, its scale, simplicity, complexity, composition.

What can it become? There is a quote in the film Amadeus that says if you have four people talking at once, then that's an argument... if you have four people singing at once, then that's Opera. Make an opera, not an argument!

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THE PROPOSAL

My idea is to make a short animation (3-5 minutes) about the story of Flatland. The audience will be the primary school students (9 -12 years old) and my objective is that they learn a little of maths in a different and funny way.


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RESEARCH AND REFERENCES

First of all is good to make some research about the topic and I found that there are some films about Flatland and other things related to this book. It's interesting to know them because they could help me to do my project.

1) Flatland (1965)
This movie was done at the animation workshop at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University. A production based on an idea by the American animator John Hubley (1914-1977) and directed by Eric Martin. I only found this interesting image:


video


If you want it is possible to buy it here: http://www.der.org/films/flatland.html

2) Flatland: the film (2007)
The film was directed and animated by Ladd Ehlinger Jr. in Lightwave 3D and it is about 95 minutes. It's a little hard-core because we can see its Flatlander’s internal organs, the clockwork of their brains and hearts, just as we should being Spacelanders looking down on them, and just as four-dimensional beings would see our insides. The social dynamics of Abott’s world are preserved here, in all its male-chauvinist, authoritarian glory. The Flatlanders in this representation are covered with wiggling hairs, which we may assume aid their locomotion and interacts with the world. Unfortunately, the film is filled with intertitles that don’t add anything to understanding Flatland, but do everything to let you know the writer thinks you’re too stupid to get it. In my opinion this film is very long and its aesthetics are not very attractive. I do not like it so much.
Some images of the film:





The trailer:


Official website: http://www.flatlandthefilm.com/

3) Flatland: the movie (2007)
By Dano Johnson & Jeffrey Travis, is a 30-minute animated educational film with the voices of Martin Sheen, Kristen Bell, Michael York, and Tony Hale. This film side-steps many of Abott’s more controversial social issues, or rather dumbs them down into a substantially less controversial form. Women and Men are both Squares, unlike Abott’s world, where women are intellectually inferior, however physically superior lines. FtM’s Flatlanders have fractals for their insides, and they carry suitcases with them by magical means. When they turn upside down, the eye and mouth of these Flatlanders magically switch places so as not to upset the viewer. The movie does present a disclaimer that it is not a true representation of Flatland, so as to make it more palatable to Spacelanders like ourselves. This film was 100% kid-safe, its concepts presented in an easily digestible format, and was filled with characters resembling those we have here in Spaceland. I liked this film a lot. The story is very good and the aesthetics too. I suggest it.
Some images of the film:





The trailer of the film:


Official website: http://www.flatlandthemovie.com/

4) An animated sequence in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? shows a human interacting with a Flatlander:


It's curious to see that in this case and in the one before, Spaceland is represented by a dark universe as the real Space.

5) I found some students works on Youtube about Flatland. All of them are just tests but it is useful to imagine how can my animation could be.





6) The book 'The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics' is written and illustrated by Norton Juster, first published in 1963. The story was inspired by Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. In 1965, famed animator Chuck Jones and the MGM Animation/Visual Arts studio adapted The Dot and the Line into a 10-minute animated short film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, narrated by Robert Morley. The Dot and the Line won the 1965 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. It was entered into the Short Film Palme d'Or competition at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.

Some screenshots of the short-film:


The short-film is available to see it on Youtube:



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THE CONTENT

The book of Flatland has 70 pages and it is divided in two parts. In the first one the author explains how is the live in Flatland and the characteristics of the people (geometric figures) who lives in this two-dimensional world. The second part is focused on the discovery of new dimensions when a weird figure from Spaceland appears in Flatland.

Here there is a shirt summary of the plot:
The story is about a two-dimensional world referred to as Flatland which is occupied by geometric figures. Women are simple line-segments, while men are regular polygons with various numbers of sides. The narrator is a humble square, a member of the social caste of gentlemen and professionals in a society of geometric figures, who guides us through some of the implications of life in two dimensions. The square has a dream about a visit to a one-dimensional world (Lineland) which is inhabited by "lustrous points." He attempts to convince the realm's ignorant monarch of a second dimension but finds that it is essentially impossible to make him see outside of his eternally straight line. He is then visited by a three-dimensional sphere, which he cannot comprehend until he sees Spaceland for himself. This sphere, who remains nameless, visits Flatland at the turn of each millennium to introduce a new apostle to the idea of a third dimension in the hopes of eventually educating the population of Flatland of the existence of Spaceland. From the safety of Spaceland, they are able to observe the leaders of Flatland secretly acknowledging the existence of the sphere and prescribing the silencing of anyone found preaching the truth of Spaceland and the third dimension. After this proclamation is made, many witnesses are massacred or imprisoned (according to caste).
After the Square's mind is opened to new dimensions, he tries to convince the Sphere of the theoretical possibility of the existence of a fourth (and fifth, and sixth ...) spatial dimension. Offended by this presumption and incapable of comprehending other dimensions, the Sphere returns his student to Flatland in disgrace.
Once returned to Flatland, the Square finds it difficult to convince anyone of Spaceland's existence, especially after official decrees are announced – anyone preaching the lies of three dimensions will be imprisoned (or executed, depending on caste). Eventually the Square himself is imprisoned for just this reason, where he spends the rest of his days attempting to explain the third dimension to his brother.

After having read the full book I think that the most interesting and useful content is the one that is in the second part of the book, so my animation will be focused in the story of a square who discovers the third dimension. Nevertheless I need to rewrite the story to adapt it because Flatland was written in 1884 and its language its very formal and a little difficult to understand to my young audience. I wrote a new story about Flatland and it has 7 pages.

Summary of the plot:
The story is about the live of a Square who lives in Flatland under the command of her villain stepfather, the King. After some weirds dreams about other dimensions, the Square is surprised by the visit of a figure, a Sphere, from the third-dimensional world. The Sphere shows Spaceland to the Square and he wonders if other dimensions could exist but the Sphere is completely disagree and returns the Square to Flatland. Suddenly the Sphere is surprised by a Hypercube from the fourth dimension. The Square was right.
You can download the full script here.

I spend a lot of time writing this new story because I think that the most important of an animation is the story, apart of the technics and the way of animation. If the story is not interesting the project is not worth because it not explains something relevant and the audience would not like it. In this new story I combined a little of adventure with maths in order to make it attractive to the audience. My idea was to put personal voice to the characters and try to make a short-film. However it was so ambitious and the story was so long to explain it in 3-5 minutes, therefore I rewrite the story again.

In this time I explained only the most important points of Flatland and I deleted the parts that are not necessary.

Summary of the plot:
Flatland is a two-dimensional world which is occupied by geometric figures. The main character is a curious Square that is very bored about his live in Flatland. Suddenly he is surprised by a three-dimensional Sphere who introduces the idea of a third dimension to the Square. After visiting Spaceland, the Square wonders if other dimensions could exist but the Sphere is completely disagree and returns the Square to Flatland. Finally, the Sphere is surprised by the visit of a figure from the fourth dimension. Other dimensions exist.

With this new story I explain the most important topic of the book that I want that my audience will be aware after seeing the video: 'new dimensions could exist although we do not know them'. This, combined with a little of maths is a good way to teach young students in a different way.


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CONCEPT ART

Once I knew exactly what would be the content of the project I only needed to design the aesthetics of the animation. Making some research I found some interesting and inspirational images.

For Flatland I thought to inspire in the work of Piet Mondrian because its works are as a two-dimensional world, very serious and with only pure colors to the figures (red, blue, yellow) and white for the background as Flatland in the book.








For Spaceland I thought in the work of other famous artist, Wassily Kandinsky. Its works fits perfectly with the three-dimensional world that I want to show, as a dream world with a lot of colours and weird shapes, an amazing place.






With this references in my mind I drew some sketches about Flatland and Spaceland:

Flatland

Spaceland
Then I made some paper cutouts to develop the aesthetics:

Flatland

Spaceland
Later I started to design the main characters. The only features that differentiate a character from another are its shape and color. The shape of the characters is conditioned by the world they belong so we can not choose it, however, the color is not influenced by any aspect so we can choose it.

For the Square I choose a blue color because its meaning are: stability, loyalty, trust, wisdom, intelligence, faith and truth. Also is considered beneficial to the body and mind and represents knowledge, integrity, reliability and power. For the Sphere I choose a yellow color because its meaning are joy, happiness, intelligence and energy. All of these meanings fits with the personality of both characters. I made some paper cutouts with the characters too to test the colors.

The Square
The Square
The Sphere
Nevertheless, I though in a different way to represent Flatland. The reason is that this world would not be showed as long as Spaceland in the animation so may be all of the details I wanted to show wouldn't be perceived by the viewers. My new idea was to represent Flatland as a 'paper' because I thought that a world where only lives figures could be good represented as a 'drawing world' and the young audience would like it.

The new background of Flatland
I made a test to view how it could be. For this test, first of all, I designed some different appearances of the Square.






The last one was the appearance I liked the most so I made the test with it.


It was ok but I thought that the appearance of the square was very typical with eyes and mouth so I wanted to design figures without expression face details, as the previous showed animation called ''The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics'. This was the results:

Final design of the Square with background blue paper

Final design of other figures of Flatland
Final design of the Square in Flatland (done in After Effects)

This is the pattern of the Sphere
For the design of Spaceland I choose a pink background with some clouds to simulate a dream world.

The Sphere in Spaceland
Then in 3ds Max I designed some places of Spaceland:










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