2015: A Space Oddity

So I want to start off by explaining that I was sitting in my room trying to come up with an idea for my animation project when I started unconsciously looking towards the posters hanging on my wall. When I looked at one I received as a gift, I was immediately inspired to tell the story of this astronaut riding a shark in space, holding a trident and surrounded by beer bottles. I can’t say I know what this picture is meant to represent, but I liked the bizarre and abstract nature of it and tried to make sure it translated over in the animation as best as possible. For this reason, I have decided to name my animation “2015: A Space Oddity.” I would also like to take this opportunity to say the following to the estates of Stanley Kubrick and David Bowie: please don’t sue me.

The picture that inspired it all.

The picture that inspired it all.

I went with 1366 x 768 as my resolution as I thought this would look nice as a widescreen video considering how much of it involved objects panning across the screen. The color pallet is almost exclusively back and white with the exception of the vibrant green shark and colorful beer bottles, which I believe makes these objects really stand out. I tried to keep the color pallet, as well as the overall feel of the animation, as similar to the original picture as possible, and went with a serif font at the end because I felt it fit thematically with the abstraction. The key characters in my animation were the shark, astronaut, bottles, and trident. Many of these “characters” tended to move and operate in unison, but many of them move independently, such as the bottles. The bottles and space background are also examples of reusable symbols in my animation.

Regarding new techniques, I learned how to use a motion tween and some careful positioning of my space background image to make a continuously looping background that made it appear as though the camera was always in constant motion. This is very similar to the techniques used by early cartoons to produce a similar effect.  I learned how to do this from watching a YouTube tutorial made by Crowne Prince.


Notice how the background just loops endlessly.

I ran into plenty of issues making this animation, probably the most frustrating of which was getting the astronaut’s arm to move in a realistic way. I ended up having to cut the arm and shark into separate layers, filling in the missing parts of the shark with Adobe Photoshop, and using clever camera positing to make the moving arm look like it was actually connected to the rest of the astronaut. This whole process must have taken three hours or so I had to do similar things to the trident so I could make it a separate object in order for the color-changing shape-tween to work, though this took less time. I also originally wanted to do more with my animation. I wanted to have more bottles floating around like in the original, but decided that the ones I had were sufficient to get my concept across and that the additional time required wouldn’t be worth it. If I had substantially more time to work on this project and wasn’t as busy, I’d have done my best to include these elements.


I found most of the sound clips I used from YouTube videos, including the laser charging and firing sounds, the astronaut breathing sound, and the music I used. Additionally, I want to point out that the music was originally composed by “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Straussand and it was made popular in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick. The breathing sound effect was also the same one used for Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas.  I got the bottle sound effect from Freesound.org, which is a free sound effect database. The original artwork I used to make the shark, astronaut, bottles, and trident was made by Kim Nguyen, who also provided me with a digital copy of the drawing so I could more easily animate it. The space background came from Freepik.com, a free vector image database.

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