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Here's a breakdown of my USC graduate thesis film, Litter! It follows a piece of trash as it falls through the layers of a futuristic society. I built nearly everything in the entire film, and this breakdown covers some of those assets, as well as the complex compositing that went into the final image. Unfortunately, the full short isn't available to the public, but if you'd like a private screener link, email me at!


Here's the film broken down into key frames and arranged into a color script. As you can see, the color fades and darkens as we descend through the layers of the world.

Here are some concepts and sketches I did early on, trying to figure out the look and direction of the final world, as well as testing the compositing techniques I used to merge the city layers together, which were rendered from separate project files with overlapping sections to use as stitch points.

Still 01.png
Still 02.png
Layer 0 style frame.png
layer 3 style frame.png
paintover 00.jpg
Paintover 01.jpg

Here's one of many early layout tests; as you can see, I started with many more layers that each represented a different one of my favorite genres of sci-fi. At this point, I was also still figuring out the throughline and the ending; I hadn't thought of the concept of following trash or the bottom layer being a landfill.

During the worldbuilding stage of the process, I kept a PureRef document updated with various assets I was working on. All of these ended up being used somewhere in the film, except for the liquid trees in the top left, which ended up only represented by holograms of the "Fluidtree" company logo throughout the world. In this grid, though, I think I'm most proud of the window interiors in the large rusted skyscraper, which were done without using extra geometry through the use of a parallax shader. I ended up using the same technique for the window interiors of the cylindrical skyscraper at the beginning of the film, even adding procedural window shades and other random variations to give the windows more variety.

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