THE CRASH - FEATURE FILM UI DESIGN AND ANIMATION

 
 
 
 

THE UNDERTAKING

In the winter of 2014 we were contacted by director Aram Rappaport, who at the time was wrapping up production on an ambitious independent film about cyber attacks on the stock market, titled THE CRASH. The story revolves around a ragtag team of cyber geniuses who are hired by the government to thwart an impending assault on the open markets. Their ringleader and accomplished businessman Guy Clifton (played by Frank Grillo), accesses and manipulates the US markets through proprietary software that lives in a matrix of tactile flat panels.

 
 

Much of the story develops through this set of flat panels as Guy's team coordinates nervously to safeguard the unassuming traders from their malicious predators.

 
 

The reel delivered to us showed Amelia and Ben (played by Diana Agron and Ed Westwick) swiping gestures across blank white spaces on these flat panels. Our task; populate the panels with fully designed and animated user interfaces.

 
 

THE DESIGN

There were a couple of criteria we had to adhere to in designing the UI. First, the base color had to be blue. During production the characters' faces were naturally illuminated with a blue cast from the screens. By designing with a different base color the “realism” would otherwise fall apart.

 
 
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Second, the interface had to be planned around an alternate reality where a mouse pointer was rendered obsolete by hand gestures in Guy Clifton's custom built operating system. Also, the individual windows had to interact as modular components when attached to one another.

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Third, one of the most challenging aspects of designing the UI was to strike a balance between its power-user complexity, all the while being intuitive enough for the audience to follow through what was happening during the story.

 

The derivative of the look is from a form follows function approach. An operating system that must respond instantaneously to market conditions should not only run on robust processing speeds but also display information and control attributes in an optimized user experience.

 
 

REVERSE ENGINEERING THE GESTURES

Our interface components had to be aligned with the hand positing and gestural timing of Guy's team. This meant planning out the individual pieces so they would properly play out whenever the user moved these pieces across the panels.

 
 

THE FLY THROUGH

One of the most exciting parts of the project involved animating an elaborate visual accompaniment to Guy's plan to deter the malicious hackers.

 
 

FINAL THOUGHTS

UI design for THE CRASH put every bone of creativity, grit, and technological knowledge to the test. 7 months of meeting intense deadlines and delivering to the director's expectations was a major challenge and needless to say, exhilarating. We hope some day to join you in creating delight, whether it's an odd project or solving a business problem. Please contact us when you're ready to move on it.

Edison Lee