Skilful character design in Frame Studio’s spirited new short, 'Alice'

Traditional animation meets 3D in Frame Studio’s roller-coaster ride through eight diverse lands

Alice is a lively 60-second short created by Montreal-based digital production house Frame Studio in celebration of Quebec’s cultural diversity. Commissioned by Canadian agency Bleublancrouge for Loto-Quebec, the film marries traditional animation with 3D to create a striking papercut effect – with a dash of stop-motion thrown in.

Several techniques were used to produce the short, which whisks the viewer through eight diverse character-filled lands – you can watch it below. Starting with concept drawings of the layouts and characters, the team developed 3D models with multiple but slightly varied assets that, when used in sequence, provide the stop-motion look.

"Our technique to create a stop-motion feel in 3D gave us full control over the animations and real-life lighting setups that we would never have been able to achieve otherwise," explains Karl Rhainds, president and creative director at Frame Studio.

However the project wasn’t without its challenges, one of which involved finding a rendering engine that would deliver high-quality renders in a reasonable timeframe. Frame Studio experimented with Redshift, a new render engine currently in development that promised to reduce render times to a fifth of other industry-standard renders, all without compromising on the quality of the short.

“In 30 seconds, the artists were able to show me a high quality, final render of any changes or updates we required,” recalls Rhainds. “Moreover, because the renders were so quick, we were able to push micro details until the very the end of the project without fear of running out of render time.”

You can see more of Frame Studio's beautiful animation work – including the making of Alice – on Vimeo. In the meantime, here's the final project: