Death Comes in Dreams

South Korea-based motion graphics artist Taehoon Park created a dystopian short for Pause Fest 2018.

By Meleah Maynard

As always, Australia’s annual Pause Fest conference inspired artists and studios from around the world to contribute animations based on a theme. For 2018, that theme was Journey = Destination, which got young South Korea-based motion graphics and animation artist Taehoon Park and his friends thinking about life’s final journey and its destination - death.

Using Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Octane and After Effects, they spent three months making a short film called Dreaveler. Dark yet eerily calming, the film tells the story of how humans of the future must deal with death once advanced technology has dramatically extended lifespans. Focused on soothing bored, exhausted and disillusioned souls, death-management company, Dreaveler (a combination of the words dream and travel), offers a type of euthanasia that allows people to once again embrace the past by traveling through their dreams and memories during REM sleep before taking a last breath.

I asked Park to talk about how he made Dreaveler with two college friends, Hyunsup Ahn and Jihoon Roh, and also his current work and plans for the future.

What inspired you all to make Dreaveler?
T.P.: The concept and visuals were inspired by the film Ghost in the Shell and the story was inspired by Sleep, a novel by Bernard Werber that shows an interesting aspect of a dream. My best friend, screenwriter Jihoon Roh, came up with our main story. We were intrigued by the possibility and a limitless usability of dreaming, which seems like a very efficient and beautiful way to travel to an imaginary world. And unlike a memory, a dream reflects a person’s desire and can express anything they want. The story imagines how traveling through dreams and memories could be a gift in the last step of life.

Once you had your inspiration, what was your process like?
T.P.: Pre-production lasted about a month and then we moved on to the practical work. I managed all aspects of the film, except for the storyline and character modeling. There really wasn’t enough time because I was also working full-time. I usually worked on it at dawn on weekdays and then the whole weekend. It helped that we followed really concrete steps - storytelling, storyboard production, storyboard animation, 3D animation, rendering and compositing. Doing that really helped shorten production time. The most important part of this was collaborating with my friends who work in different fields. Working with them made this project much more meaningful to me.

What scene in Dreaveler do you like most and why?
I like the lab scene with the main character in the beginning. It was inspired by the character of Hideo Kuze in Ghost in the Shell. I always prefer a dark, serious atmosphere and this scene was made with particular care because of the layout of all of the cables. I spent a lot of time designing and setting up the lighting of the main character. I got some amazing sci-fi models [under Creative Commons] from Beeple’s project Zero Day.

You aren’t long out of college. Where are you working right now?
T.P.: We graduated three years ago. I used to do a lot of illustration but I’ve been concentrating on motion graphics now that I work at GIANTSTEP, a well-known post-production company in South Korea. We mainly do TV commercials, game cinematics, title design and VR-interactive content. I’m busy working at GIANTSTEP but when I have time I study animation and other things. I am looking forward to doing some title sequence work with Heebok Lee, our talented creative director.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, including where you all went to college.  

T.P.: We went to Hansung University in Seoul. I earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and I never imagined that I would be a 3D artist. But my friend Gryun Kim created a motion graphics study group at school, so we started studying Cinema 4D together, mostly through online tutorials. I painted a lot when I was young. My father was a cartoonist and I think I inherited his talents. At first, I used C4D only for fun and doing assignments. But then I started uploading my work to Behance. The responses I got were so nice. I never expected that, but it made me want to use C4D more and study harder.

Explain a bit more about the roles your friends played in making the film.

T.P.: Jihoon handled most of the pre-production process, and Hyunsup did character modeling and design. We had worked together already on a short, animated film called The Frog when we were in college. It was really poor quality compared to Dreaveler, so we can see how much we’ve improved since we graduated. Participating in a big event like Pause Fest was a big challenge as a motion graphic artist. To be honest, I was worried that the reaction to our film would not be good. But, thankfully, many people liked and shared our Vimeo link.

What are your plans? Do you think you’ll be making more films?
T.P.: I will study motion graphics more, and I want to learn how to do one day be able to do more of the filmmaking on my own from beginning to end, like Raoul Marks. He is a great CG artist. Or I would like to become a great creative director like Heebok Lee, Patrick Clair and Ash Thorp. I have so much to learn from people like them and I respect them so much.

Design and production: Taehoon Park
Character design and modeling: Hyunsup Ahn
Screenwriting and editing: Jihoon Roh
Music and sound effects: Echoic

Meleah Maynard is a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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