One eccentric teen and his unmotivated manager must get their acts together to keep their jobs when a ghost begins to wreak havoc in their store.
60 MPH is a collaborative thesis film made by Ashli Hudson and Alec Asnien.
Ashli's Thesis Statement
Within the AAA Game and Animation industry, unrealistic production timelines and crunch culture are often the norm. As a result, completed projects are often of a lesser quality than expected, and a large mental toll is taken on overworked, and unpaid employees.
Alec's Thesis Statement
Animation is shifting more and more towards web based media, with most of its content being gag based, without a robust continuous storyline. Story is one of the most important aspects of an animated cartoon series that captivate the audiences and promotes return viewing.
To create a humorous 2D short film that allows us to play to our strengths in using symbols, an effective method of animation, as well as experimenting in melding and replicating various styles to come up with our own, appealing design. Working as a team allows us to make the most out of our time and come up with the best possible solutions, and minimize the sense of inevitable "crunch". The format in which the film has been introduced also allows for the continuation of one singular story line.
First off, we had to figure out what we wanted this film to look like? What did we want to pull inspiration from? We liked the flexibility of cartoons such as Adventure Time, Chowder, Regular Show, and Invader Zim. This is the direction we started in. With a direction we wanted to go in, we then had to figure out: Where is this going to take place? Form the beginning, we knew this would be in a convenience store, but where? Two teens bored out of their mind in an almost always empty store? A convenience store set in the middle of the desert with no other places for miles was the ideal fit. With a style, and inspiration and mind, we got to work on making our own characters and ironing out story.
Character & Environment Inspirations
Story was by far the most difficult part of the thesis process. From the beginning, Alec & I knew if we took the short film route for our thesis, it had to have humor in it. Our film pitch initially started as two people defending their store from not one, but multiple extremely elusive thieves. As story continued to develop and went through various iterations and variations of our story, we ended up with the current idea of our film: Melanie and Tim defending their store (and jobs) from a kid stealing all of their products.
Nailing our gags was another difficult part of the process, nailing down time and humor we found appropriate was tough, Often, many of the gags that you see in the final film are suggestions Ashli and I jokingly made while in mid production of the film.
Early Ideation and Thumbnailing
Comparison of our animatic to the final looks of the film.
Melanie is the bitter, somewhat apathetic manager of 60 MPH Convenience. She spends most of her time on her phone, and ignoring the occasional customer that actually does show up to their store. Occasionally, she does stock items but for me most part she leaves it to Tim just because she can. Overall, she does not care much for her job, however she does need some kind of income, and working at a convenience store in what’s essentially the middle of nowhere is the easiest way to do it.
With Melanie, we wanted to keep a simple overall design that presents itself as somewhat complex to contrast Tim. Melanie is mostly made up of circles, ovals and rectangles. Most of her rounded elements are cut with sharp lines and angles, making you have a second thought about how “friendly” her rounded shapes make her look at first glance. In her rig, her legs and feet are made into a single symbol since she's never shown walking with her full body, only above the waist.
Early Melanie color concepts and styles, before we decided to make both Melanie and Tim based on Alec and Ashli.
Tim is the happy-go-lucky and eccentric half of 60 MPH Convenience. When he isn’t stuck with tasks that
Melanie should be doing, he spends a lot of his time figuring out some way to (unintentionally) cause
trouble in the store. He may not be the smartest, or the best at planning things out well, but he’s just here
for a good time. Like Melanie, he doesn’t exactly “like” his job, but as long as he can figure some way to
have fun with it, he’ll gladly show up to work everyday. He does the vast majority of stocking, cleaning, and
organizing in the store. Tim’s a little weird, but he’s definitely the best right hand man you could ask for.
Tim’s design is simple, and he is intended to look a bit more simple than Melanie since he could be considered a bit “simple-minded.” Tim’s a lot more rectangular in his design, showing he’s actually a bit more grounded and determined than Melanie is. His rectangles are complimented with rounded edges to highlight that he is just about as friendly as he looks. Since he doesn’t have the benefit of “rebellious teen dyed hair" to stand out more like Melanie, his hair and clothing are quite saturated to contrast our desaturated grounds. Like Melanie, his legs are made into two separate symbols with a few different poses, as his full body is not seen while walking.
Not much is known about Ghost Kid. His mum left him at 60 MPH Convenience over 100 years ago and he
died there. He’s a bit of an a**hole (understandably when you’ve been haunting a crappy store in the middle
of nowhere for a century), and enjoys messing with people. He’s also very good at manipulating dumb
people, also known as Melanie and Tim.
Ghost Kid is essentially a head, torso, and tail. He’s the second simplest character out of everyone. His tail is
modified brush line that is set to loop without us having to interfere. Him being blue helps him stand out from
our more “natural” palette of the store. Since he doesn’t actually have legs and floats everywhere, he’s very easy
to animate when he moves. His design has a lot of round elements to fool you into thinking he’s just a sweet
unfortunate kid, but that “fiery” hair and smug expressions of his would tell you otherwise.
Early in the story process, the Ghost Kid was alive and well, however, to open up more gag opportunities, he was killed off and ended up as the Ghost Kid you see in the final film. This is how he looked before that change.
Jasmine is Tim’s pet alligator who acts as a watchdog for 60 MPH Convenience. She previously lived in the men’s toilet until Tim rescued her. She isn’t very good at her job, as she is easily scared or confused by pretty much anything, but she still tries her best. She had the bow on before Tim before Tim found her.
Jasmine is by far our simplest character, she does not walk at any point so her legs have only two poses, for when she is standing still and when she is being held. Her torso and tail are once piece as her tail does not move at any point, this also has a pose for when she stands on her own and when she is being held. The most complex part of Jasmines design & rig was having two sets of her jaws that allowed her to show her teeth whenever she opens her mouth. Design wise, we wanted a simple looking, friendly alligator. Her only sharp edges are her “claws”, tail, and teeth, aside from that, she’s pretty round and friendly.
Her primary inspiration was taken from Gummy, the pet alligator featured in the TV series My Little Pony. She also has some influence from other "Wall-eyed" characters such as Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb, and Foxes from the game Minecraft.
Early 3D mockups to aid in the visualization of the final store.
With our backgrounds, we wanted to get a feel of “That one really shady and kinda gross convenience store near you that you don’t really want to go to if you had another choice.” This meant that our store had to be kinda crowded in terms of overall space, and needed a lot of use of texture to achieve the effects of dirt throughout the store.
This use of texture was also influenced by shows that use a similar style of background
like Regular Show and Chowder. Since 60 MPH Convenience doesn’t attract many customers, it is almost always fully stocked with expired products, and there’s quite a few signs of vandalism thanks to Melanie in the form of crude sticky notes and a defaced “Ask for help!” sign.
The store is in the middle of nowhere, so its exterior, although rarely seen is entirely
desert, with the exception of the road leading to and from the store, and the store
itself, and occasional cacti.
Many of our props were either drawn in Adobe Photoshop and implemented as background elements, or directly in Adobe Animate so they could easily be converted into symbols that worked seamlessly with our characters.
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