The climax of my animation happens upon the arrival into an impossible space (I’ll elaborate upon the narrative further in an upcoming post). In order to give an impossible and ethereal feeling to the scene, one in which houses a more (hopefully) philosophical interpretation, I have decided to reduce the scene to an endless white abyss. However, in order to give a sense of scale to this I believe it needs a little more than just an endless white. So in order to do the scene some justice I am looking back a some examples of media using a similar approach.
Perhaps the most well know in recent years of this concept is it’s use in the final Harry Potter film in it’s limbo scene. The sense of scale and endlessness here is particularly effective thanks to the geometry of the London station, Kings Cross. The architecture that is subtly suggested through the encompassing mist dwarfs the actors in the scene and thus exhibits this monumental sense of scale and proportion. This scene also gets bonus points for the use of a transitory environment used in juxtaposition for limbo, a form of purgatory and state of stillness.
Another film that handled a similar aesthetic was the film Bruce Almighty. A much simpler approach and mostly done with simple edits, the use of the white vignette allows the edges of the scene to dissolve into the abyss and gives the sense of endless space. Again, it’s through the use of well-known geometry that truly gives the shot a sense of scale.
Bladerunner 2049 and its brilliant scene in which the main character is lost in and endless rusty mist was perhaps one of the most iconic moments in recent film. It uses a lot of the trick stated earlier of placing geometry for scale and it also plays with that scale quite a lot. The main asset we connect to in order to create scale is the main character himself, I believe this also creates a deeper attachment between the audience an the hero. We not only follow him through the environment more closely but we use him to relate to and understand the environment.
All of these examples have one thing in common, the slight suggestion at least of the surrounding architecture/geometry. This is necessary to ground the scene and give the space physical proportions. One example which does not use this is the white room in The Matrix, although this choice makes sense narratively in order to give the sense of absolute nothing, it doesn’t give the sense of the space that I would like. Even the use of props and characters in order to give scale to the scene doesn’t work without at least a suggestion to a ground plane.
A more recent rendition I found by chance is within the Netflix hit series Stranger things in which a character enters a black abyss with a watery ground, much like the effect I wish to achieve. It shares similar connotations as mine also as this space represents the spectral connection in which the character is facilitating by entering a sensory deprivation tank. What we see on screen is a visual representation of the mind or spectral plane.
This scene may have been inspired by ‘the black room’ in Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 horror film “Under the Skin”. In Glazer’s scene, A very interesting interaction occurs in which the female protagonist lures a male character deeper into the room in order to be swallowed by the abyss, sinking into the darkness. This also facilitated an impressive use of camera movement in which the perspective is lowered as the male character is consumed, slowly making the female figure imposing and dominating, subtly. By the time we realise this change, the character is consumed.