View Full Version : The Backwater Gospel, Animated Shortfilm

02 February 2011, 02:37 AM
Hi folks! I'd like to show you our bachelor project, the 3D animated short film The Backwater Gospel. I'm a little cut off from communication at the moment, but I'll get back to you eventually, should any questions arise. Hope you enjoy it!

Making of's:
Bo Mathorne:
Arthur Gil Larsen:

02 February 2011, 05:06 AM
That was....incredible.

I've never seen animation with such amazing style before. The attention to detail is just mindblowing, the story is dark as hell and overall the piece is technically brilliant.

You win.

02 February 2011, 07:24 AM
holy crap, why isn't this plugged?!

Great job, I liked the design of the characters and the bold use of textures to create this very hand drawn stop mo cg hybrid style. Any chance you're doing a "making of" I would definitely like to have a more in depth look into the production.

keep up the good work

Great job!

02 February 2011, 10:33 AM
A really good job ! Congratulations .. :)

02 February 2011, 01:08 PM
Your short is simply amazing ! Style, acting, soundtrack, directing...

Should be in first page for me...

02 February 2011, 07:41 PM
I watched twice - It was a pure pleasure
amazing atmosphere

great sense of an image and colors
fantastic characters -chaplain rulez


02 February 2011, 08:19 PM
That was f-ing amazing! Story, style, was all perfect. Well done! :thumbsup:

02 February 2011, 08:25 PM
That was awesome guys, congratulations :)

02 February 2011, 09:08 PM
Thanks guys, glad you like it! As part of the exam each member of the team were required to make a "making of" showcasing what each student was individually responsible for. I'd love to show you mine which goes a little in depth with the 3D assets and characters, but I haven't got the file with me and I probably won't be able to show it within the next three months, sorry. Maybe I can work something out though. In the meanwhile you should check out the making of of Arthur Gil Larsen, an amazing animator and concept artist:

Also, if you like the music in the film you might like the video I did for the composer's song "Psalm of Withering":


02 February 2011, 09:26 PM
Holy shit. That was truly inspiring. Congratulations to the whole team.

02 February 2011, 09:44 PM
i can send you your making of bo, im still in viborg ;)
tell me if you need it!

02 February 2011, 11:32 PM
Amazing work guys!

Cannot believe I haven't seen this plugged anywhere!

02 February 2011, 01:44 AM
Alright, with the help of the ever generous Andreas Thomsen (don't forget to check out the short he directed, posted here: I've been able to upload my "making of". Note though that it's not intended as a step by step guide to the process but rather a collection of the work I did throughout production. Hope you enjoy it anyway though and that it answers some of your questions:

02 February 2011, 01:57 AM
That is awesome, loved the style :cool:

02 February 2011, 03:21 AM
I truly enjoyed that, thankyou so much for posting your making of video. This is truly inspiring, I found the aesthetics brilliant. Great work!

My Fault
02 February 2011, 08:25 AM
Amazing work to all involved. Top row this sucker!

02 February 2011, 10:50 AM
Outstanding work, this deserves a top shelf place

02 February 2011, 01:50 PM
Thanks for all your comments so far =D
Bo, Maybe we should get both of the making of's edited into your first post since both of them are online now. Thanks for the kind words btw :D

Hope you're doing well in San Fransisco!=)

02 February 2011, 05:25 PM
Once again, thank you all very much! It warms my moldy crooked heart to see how well the film is being received! I'm humbled that you think it deserved a place on the front page!

Good thinking Sir! I'll edit them in right away! I'm doing great in SF how's London treating you?

02 February 2011, 06:02 PM
the style well serve the story, congrats on both ! I like the subject you touch here :)- Maybe i'm making my own "morale"/"lesson" about it ? :)-

02 February 2011, 08:32 PM
Every now and then an animation comes along that both inspires and leaves you speechless. Thanks for sharing.

If this isn't front page material, what is?

02 February 2011, 10:58 PM
Thank you so much, folk! A viewer on Vimeo asked me about the development of the project and I thought it might be interesting to hear, so I'll post it here as well:

Spring 2009:
Via Last.FM I first got introduced to the bands Those Poor Bastards and Sons of Perdition. Being an old fan of bands like 16 Horsepower, Slim Cessna's Auto Club and The Denver Gentlemen I naturally felt drawn to the gritty Western universe.

May 2009:
I liked the song "The Dust Storm" by Those Poor Bastards so much that I began toying around with the idea of making a fan music video for it. I wanted to try something I had had in mind for a while, namely the technique I used for the character above.

Summer 2009:
I felt the result of my experiment had potential and as the time for pitches of bachelor project ideas was coming up at the school, I decided to see if I could make up a story for a film that would utilize the technique. The rough story beats of The Backwater Gospel started to take shape. I contacted Those Poor Bastards and Sons of Perdition and both we're interested. The latter turned out to be a vital part of the production, writing music and doing voice acting, as well as consulting the story.

September 2009:
The project got chosen and the team was assembled.

June 18th, 2010:
Final deadline, the film was handed in.

Fall, 2010:
The sound was designed mainly in this period.

January 28, 2011:
Official premiere of all bachelor films in the cinema Fotorama in Viborg, Denmark (where the school also is located). A couple of weeks later the films were put online.

02 February 2011, 11:21 PM
excellent, loved it.

especially loved the art direction. The story was great too

02 February 2011, 04:30 PM
Great job, I loved the art style and character designs.

02 February 2011, 07:08 PM
I can't believe this hasn't gone up on the front page yet!

02 February 2011, 07:53 PM
Absolutely amazing work. The graphic style lends itself beautifully to the subject matter.

02 February 2011, 05:01 AM
Thanks guys! Everyone on the team is extremely thrilled by the overwhelming reception the film has had!

02 February 2011, 05:39 AM
Whoa! First time seeing anything like that....

02 February 2011, 03:14 PM
Im shocked that this hasn't appeared on the frontpage aswell, have to say though, would love to work with you guys if you have any projects in the future, especially with this art direction!

02 February 2011, 01:05 PM
Thanks a lot for all the great comments=D
Bo: Still in Norway. Should be back in London in March :wip:

02 February 2011, 01:26 PM
Ok, I'm REALLY surprised this isn't frontpage yet? Maybe the mods are taking it into consideration already? (should get approved fast though).

It is hard to find an animated shortfilm that ins't lacking somewhere. I usually see good visuals with no story, good story with bad visuals, sound, editing, camera work or whatever. But you guys hit it high in every aspect. Well done.

I liked Saga Of Biorn as well, but Backwater style I enjoyed the most (both visually and dark mood/tone of the story)

Just in case no one knows what I'm talking about here:

I would really like to have both this shortfilms to download in HD. I understand if you don't put them available though.

Keep 'em coming! :D

02 February 2011, 05:42 PM
Thanks again again, all you nice and handsome people!

Thanks buddy, I really happy to hear that you also like the story. I will be the first to admit that the story telling has flaws and there's plenty of room for improvement, but a student film should be a learning experience, right? I also absolutely adore The Saga of Biorn, it's one of my favorite comical animation shorts. The simple story and the visual style is very achieved in my opinion.

I don't know about downloading, the school might have a reason to keep the source files at hand.

02 February 2011, 11:03 PM
Unique, brilliant, astonishing !!!

02 February 2011, 11:36 PM
Well, there is always room for improvement. I was referring to the fact that every aspect of this short (as well as Saga) is pretty much at the same quality, and I guess that's why it has such a great response from people.

I've been looking at the making of, I think you guys have been clever at not doing things complicated. Some of the techniques were pretty simple but looked good. And I was banging my head trying to figure out how to render this kind of 3d cartoon style. You made it simple, and it looked great, so extra points for that.

I see the school has reasons to keep it online only, but oh well, I want it anyway lol.

02 February 2011, 01:40 PM
Wow - I really admire this film.
Not just the visuals - also the sounddesign is great.

I also adore the character design. I like that the mouth shapes of some characters are simply animated textures on the head - reminded me a bit on Grim Fandango - my favorite 3d adventure game. To me it looks like a brilliant comic stylization in 3d - great to watch!

Keep it up!

02 February 2011, 03:41 PM
BTW here is a little making of were you can see how the characters are build and the render acheived. take a look it might give you ideas.

02 February 2011, 03:12 PM
Very inspiring work, I loved it

02 February 2011, 01:16 AM
Where do I begin? The visuals- unique and beautiful, the characters- colorful, the animation-fluid, the story- engaging. Everything about this short just exemplifies what a short film should achieve. I think I will watch it again.

02 February 2011, 03:20 PM
Thanks a bunch for all the great comments so far!=D

02 February 2011, 06:00 PM
Great work!


02 February 2011, 06:28 PM
So nice to see, that once in a while a movie from the school pops up on the frontpage. It was epic to see it in the cinema! Very well deserved :)

02 February 2011, 06:36 PM
Front page finally!!!

02 February 2011, 06:43 PM
one of the best shorts i've seen in a while...truly awesome work..congrats guys..

02 February 2011, 06:43 PM
A friend sent this to me a while back. I probably watched it about 10 times on the first day, and then told everyone I knew about it. There is a lot to appreciate from what went into this- Great story telling, great characters, great everything really. Can't wait to see the next one!

02 February 2011, 06:58 PM
just great, amazing work!

02 February 2011, 07:25 PM
absolutely mindblowing! probably one of the best animated shorts I've ever seen :buttrock:

02 February 2011, 08:35 PM
Very inspiring work, with a unique style!


02 February 2011, 09:20 PM
What an amazing short! I love the art style, the story, music, everything is perfect!

Great job guys, congratulations to everyone involved!

02 February 2011, 09:25 PM
Im speechless... everything in the movie is a piece of Art, every part of it.

02 February 2011, 10:34 PM
Well it aint Pixar ( without the fluffy bunnies and all ;) ),but it's really good.

02 February 2011, 11:23 PM
Holy smoke! :eek:

02 February 2011, 11:55 PM
Kind of remind me of gorillas, but in an another unique way....Awesome!

02 February 2011, 01:13 AM
Incredible mates, marvellous. Somebody should give an Oscar.

02 February 2011, 02:26 AM
awwwwwesome work, really I like a lot the style and texturing, the choice of shapes for the characters, all around great work!

02 February 2011, 03:00 AM
That... was.... awesome...

I'm speechless...

02 February 2011, 03:04 AM
Congrats on the top row, guys! You earned it.

02 February 2011, 03:40 AM
Woooooow guys !! i just saw the short and im speechless thats just a beautiful piece of art !!! I also saw the making of and i speechless to... but i want more (jeje sorry)... ur art and style is very intriguing and awesome... is there any chance PLEASE to make some more making of or a tutorial about the full process of the character creation that would be awesome...

Again Congratulations for this incredible job !!

02 February 2011, 08:28 AM

style, animation, story, pacing, camerawork, gore

all of it brilliant, well done guys!

02 February 2011, 11:18 AM
Amazing film guys! The western grim atmosphere was really captivating.

02 February 2011, 04:39 PM
Every frame was perfection! Cheers! :beer:

02 February 2011, 04:41 PM
Superb work! Crazy art direction! This should have been competing for oscar in short animation category

02 February 2011, 11:05 PM





02 February 2011, 05:23 AM
fantastic! love it!

i have inboxed you about possible involvement in a festival i am helping to set up in Zimbabwe!

great work again


02 February 2011, 07:44 AM
Amazing style..well done :)

02 February 2011, 08:54 AM
superb work guys. Congrats to everyone involved. Great style & animation, hope it takes you places :arteest:

02 February 2011, 09:58 AM
There we go, its about time they put this on the top shelf!

02 February 2011, 12:06 PM
I already said it several times but : amazing !

02 February 2011, 12:33 PM
Saw this as I was browsing Cartoon Brew a week and a half ago and had to search around under my desk for half an hour trying to find my jaw @_@

The whole thing was absolutely mesmerising, congrats on a job VERY well done.

After finding my jaw I immediately proceeded to download all the making-of's you guy very generously put up for us to scour.....I LOVE the solutions you came up with for the meshes and texturing, truly inspirational.

02 February 2011, 03:04 PM
This is simply amazing !
I have watch it twice and trully fall in love with the style and character design.
CONGRATULATIONS !!! :thumbsup:

02 February 2011, 04:16 PM
This has to be the best short I've ever seen, the style, story - everything about it was just awesome. (Also love the song too).

It reminds me of Luis Cook’s ‘The Pearce Sisters’, in terms of style and dark story, but you folks have taken the style somewhere else, love it!

Love the blog as well -

02 February 2011, 05:01 PM
Well worthy of all the praise.

Wonderful art direction, story telling and animation!
Congratulations on the front page, and best of luck, please make more!

02 February 2011, 06:47 PM
I will be very amazed if this doesn't win a BAFTA or an OSCAR.
Even though that means you'd have to remove this vid from circulation, I think you definitely have a big chance.

02 February 2011, 09:55 AM
WOW that was absolutly brilliant... loved the style amazing work

02 February 2011, 11:01 AM
Woooow , one of the best films i have ever watched. love the whole graphic novel style approach . Love the character designs and whole mood . Direction was just stunning. You guys have a done one hell of a great job . Loved the way you guys pulled out this kinda style in 3d. Watched your making too. Congrats to the whole crew on such a wonderful piece of work

02 February 2011, 11:45 AM
Great short in every aspects.


02 February 2011, 06:04 PM
Perfect! Best short I've seen in a LONG time!

02 February 2011, 09:25 AM
Infinite thanks for the "making of", now i´m just like :banghead:
You guys are awesome!

02 February 2011, 03:44 PM
It's a really good short with flawless art direction, very creepy themed which is something always apreciated. Personally I'm not too fond of animated shorts with dialogues but it works really well in this one, besides, the voice acting is really good. Editing is something to be congratulated as well being the slaughter sequence well paced and completely enjoyable.
Congratulations to you all!

02 February 2011, 05:14 PM
Impressive animation you got there.

03 March 2011, 07:14 AM
out standing work done guys!
keep it up
well i just watched that 10 times
and i like it.
could u just send me some more rendered images?

03 March 2011, 07:20 AM
cool work done

03 March 2011, 12:09 PM
Dark yet Beautiful Stylization ... superbly made :thumbsup:

03 March 2011, 08:56 PM
Thank you all so very, very much! We're incredibly happy you like our film!

Roberto Ortiz
Thanks for the plug, it's an honour!

Thanks buddy, how is your own film progressing?

hazenbenjamin (
Thanks man, you must crave the dark and the sinister! Check our Sons of Perdition's site if you haven't already for more spiritual decomposing.

We have a rainbow, though!

I appreciate you saying that, though I doubt we would have a shot at the Oscar.

EvoInSec (
Glad you like all of it and even took the time to watch the making of. The breakdown session in my own making of is probably the closest you'll come to a tutorial but I'd say it's pretty straight forward. Just draw those textures and worry about modeling later. Generally, worry about everything later. Planning makes rigid.

Again, really appreciated that you think it's Oscar material!

Thank you! Did you get my reply?

iest-rob (
Thanks man! I'm a great fan of The Pierce Sisters, I had the pleasure of meeting Luis Cook a while after we finished up Backwater and talk with him about the process. He's a great guy, extremely talented and very honest and helpful.

Dennik (
Thanks, I have no idea what it would take to get it considered for either award but it seems to me it's out of our hands.

And again, thanks to everyone who replied, we appreciate the Hell out of it!

03 March 2011, 04:20 AM
If my sentence in any way can contribute to something, then - even though I like it, but not quite. For me, this is too exaggerated, in every sense of the word, but certainly stylistically sophisticated, and somewhat technical. As for me, maybe a little too aggressive. And perhaps it is that makes your film, (maybe only for me) a bit off-putting my attention away from your (I presume), the guiding concept, making it also a little annoying. After all, congratulations on a unique design! It is very inspiring.

Sincerely, DCKRB

PS What kind of software you have used?

03 March 2011, 06:06 PM
great story, style, sound, editing, animation, basically... everything :applause:

03 March 2011, 09:03 AM
Thats very inventive and original .. I have no comments other than brilliant work ..

03 March 2011, 10:36 AM
Congrats on all the attention the film is getting - you deserve it. :)

It was quite apparent that this aesthetics of this piece was some extraordinary when I first saw glimpses of it at the school.

Best of luck on your future endeavours!

03 March 2011, 08:22 PM
I can say that your film has amazing aesthetic quality. And the story was great too, though a bit strong for my test and some of the shots were a bit too aggressive. The environment and many things where done so well to support the dark theme so I thought some shot effects were not really necessary. Nonetheless I think people will remember this short for a very long time. Very impressive!

03 March 2011, 02:24 PM
Amazing :)) really great

03 March 2011, 11:49 PM
Mind blowing every time i watch it.

Caongrats to the team.

03 March 2011, 08:29 PM
Thanks all! Really happy you found the film interesting!

You know, I actually somehow agree with you. I had originally seen the film as being more slow and heavy, more depression than desperation, but I think there's a number of reasons it ended up as it did. We had a hard time making the images convey the story in a way that the viewer would understand the story and as a consequence we kept pushing. It might have served the film if we had dialed back a little bit, but subtlety is a very hard thing to master and definitely the thing I have to pursue should I continue down this line of work. Also, even if the film is the longest ever produced at The Animation Workshop (bragging rights included) I still think it could benefit from some more time to set up the universe, the characters and their relationship. But we also had to be able to produce the damn thing. Any way, thanks for the critique, always appreciated.

The kind of software we used was mainly computer programs, although we did use a little bit of pen and paper. Kidding, we used Maya for 3D, Photoshop for textures and backgrounds, Fusion for compositing and Flash for effects.

I think the above reply addresses the same issues as you raise. Thanks.

03 March 2011, 07:15 PM
"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." ~Yoda :)

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