Ada Hor

Butterfly Mirror

Bachelor of Design Motion Capture 3D animation Compositing Virtual Production Character Animation Narrative Abstract


An experimental short film about a girl's reflection coming to life that explores 3D lighting, colour and a visualisation of self vs self conflict. My aim of this project was to answer the question: “How can I use both lighting and colour to create a visually and emotionally engaging short film about one’s journey to self-discovery?”

My capstone project ‘Butterfly Mirror’ is a fully CGI short film. I opted for fully CGI because I knew that this certain visual style I wanted to go for would be further enhanced in this medium. As a Visual Effects student this was a massive challenge for me, and I learnt a lot through my many successes and failures. This idea is very ambitious, I am wanting to make use of many techniques that I am familiar with but either haven't put into practice yet or have very little experience with. So as a result, there were many unknowns that I had to overcome.

‘Butterfly Mirror’ tells a story of a girl named Nessie who goes on a journey of self discovery with the help of her own reflection who comes to life, and guides her through a bright neon city. My goal with this narrative was to visually show the metaphor of self discovery. I wanted the short film a very visually exciting piece, as well as something that the audience can have a strong emotional response to with the element of  a ‘self vs self’ conflict that many can relate to. The choice to have the story set in a city stems from the idea I had that in which the brightness of a city is a reflection of its inhabitants. The brighter the city, the more ‘alive’ the people inside the city are. As the girl gets deeper inside herself, the brighter the city shines.

I drew inspiration from many different areas from different mediums. One of my biggest inspirations was the film ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (2018) and the cartoon series ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ (2011). Both had very beautiful visual styles and broke barriers for their specific digital medium. ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ was a 3D animated short film that wanted to incorporate old school comic book colour techniques such as Kirby dots and chromatic aberration, and because of that they achieved amazing visuals that were never done before. ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ is a cartoon that combines live action footage with both 2D and 3D elements into one cohesive style. They achieve this through the use of colour and light matching everything in the scene. Since my aim for this project was to explore the use of colour and lighting, both of them were very visually engaging and stuck with me for a long time. I also looked at other visual styles such as the cyberpunk and nightlife aesthetic. Both these visual influences feature bright fluorescent lighting contrasted against dark night backgrounds. This ultimately dictated my research question for this entire project: “How can I use both lighting and colour to create a visually and emotionally engaging short film about one’s journey to self-discovery?”