In his animated short A Different Perspective, Chris O’Hara brings an alien to Earth–and it changes the way that everybody ends up seeing the world.
That’s not a metaphor. The short, which O’Hara animated entirely in Adobe Flash (with some compositing done in After Effects), is all about playing with perspective: After the alien lands, the way he interacts with the flat, 2-D landscape–and the people who inhabit it–is the set up for a series of striking visual gags with a perfect payoff.
“The original idea spawned from a little sketch I did, where I had this giant character bumping into the sun, like the alien does with the moon,” O’Hara explains. “This led to the idea of playing with perspective and depth of field, and then I built a little story around those ideas. The flat, graphic nature of the design was implemented as it best served the concept, and helped to sell the perspective gags and ideas–the camera needed to stay straight on for the perspective gags to really work.”
The film ended up screening at two dozen film festivals around the world–many of which O’Hara was able to attend–in the two years after he made it, before it finally got to enjoy a second life, debuting on Vimeo last week. And it’s obvious why, looking at it: While O’Hara doesn’t cite video games as an inspiration, it’s easy to connect the flat, platform-based visuals of A Different Perspective with games in which the camera never moves and perspective is merely suggested by some bold outlines in the background. And the fact that it’s about an alien and a dog doesn’t hurt, either.
“It needed to be some sort of otherworldly being that would have the ability to interfere with and break these rules of perspective that we know,” O’Hara says of his choice of characters. “We can sometimes be quick to judge based on appearance and the alien felt like a good character to have represent this idea.”