Chris Weller: Goodnight, Sweet PakMan

Los Angeles based independent animator, Christopher Weller, animated this unauthorised stylised interpretation of the classic 8-bit arcade game 'Pac-Man'. 'Goodnight, Sweet PakMan' took 2 years to complete with Chris working on the parody in his spare time between paid jobs, having previously worked on Season 3 of ‘The Life And Times Of Tim’ and various web videos.

This is what Chris emailed us about the production of the short:

"In conceptualizing this piece, I was inspired by the “Gallery 1988” art exhibits that pop up frequently, which feature nostalgic and familiar 80’s cartoon and video game characters re-contextualized in various thoughtful and artistic ways. Even though those exhibits are mostly paintings, I wanted the aesthetic of this piece to be worthy of inclusion, and felt I really had to dissect the game and study its core. My big question before starting was, “After more than 30 years, why is Pac-Man still so widely recognized? What is it about Pac-Man that connects with people so well?“

I broke the game down to its basics: You’re a mouth, stuck in a never-ending maze, trying to eat all the food while evading death at every turn. Every 3 levels there is an animated ‘cinema scene’ of Pac-Man meeting a Ms. Pac-Man. They fall in love and every 3 levels produce another Pac-Man Jr. So the game is analogous to the very primal basics of life: Eating, procreating, and trying not to die. In Pac-Man, as in life, nobody “wins,” you just play until the ghosts are faster than you. Or you get really, really good and make it to level 256 and glitch out and break the Matrix.

Anyway, that is the core of what I wanted to preserve from the game while adapting it and rendering it in a much more complex style. I have been working a variety of different jobs within the animation and VFX industry for the last 8+ years, and I wanted to combine all the various skills and techniques I have learned (as well as figure out a bunch of new ones) and roll all them up into an explosive little short.

The piece was animated and composited entirely in After Effects, with a little Photoshop to allow me to hand-color the characters’ bodies. The Backgrounds were modeled in the free CAD program SketchUp.

Hope you enjoy, it was a blast to make. But after 2 years I’m glad it’s done so I can move on!"

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