Celebrating the beauty of nature, FORSAKEN is a stunning immersive artwork with a sombre warning about the destruction of life on our planet.
Directed by Roland Lane, produced by Frameless and animated by Cinesite, FORSAKEN is a short film made for the breath-taking wrap-around screens at Outernet London. It serves as both an ambitious, immersive digital artwork and a powerful environmental call-to-action. Inspiration was taken from the remarkable Immortal Jellyfish, which is able to regenerate and begin its life cycle over again.
Premiering on 11th January 2024 at Outernet, a public immersive gallery next to Tottenham Court Road underground station in Central London, FORSAKEN has had audiences flocking in to enjoy the spectacular visuals.
Director Roland began developing the concept behind the 8-minute animation a couple of years ago. “I have an increasing interest in using my work to address climate change, it is the defining crisis for my generation. The oceans have long been seen as a barometer for the world’s global health and hold all kinds of beauty, when I discovered this little jellyfish I thought it was incredible: less than 5 mm wide, it can essentially regenerate when it’s stressed, under threat, or conditions aren’t right. It has a resilient nature which brings a message of hope to the work, within the wider warning.”
Roland came to Cinesite with a detailed brief and reference footage; concept work soon began, along with animation tests and previsualisation, planning how the action would play out across all five walls.
FORSAKEN is separated into three acts. The first and third illustrate the Immortal jellyfish’s life-cycle. In the first, we see cells descending to the ocean floor which turn into polyps from which larvae emerge, turning into a cloud of small adult jellyfish.
The final act shows the creatures’ death, each turning into a light of remembrance as their lives end. A single, final jellyfish dies and drifts to the ocean floor, representing the end of the cycle. The middle act is a more abstract sequence which reimagines an adult medusa jellyfish filling the immersive space, a dynamic and colourful representation.
Vibrant use of colour was an important creative choice on the bright LED screens. The subtle bioluminescence of the first and third acts contrast with the second, which features neon colours and a bright palette reminiscent of tropical sea life.
The audience sees a huge, UFO-like jellyfish descending overhead, enveloping the space entirely. As they look up into the underside of its pulsating canopy, brightly coloured tentacles dangle around the walls.
While the first and last acts illustrate the Immortal Jellyfish’s life cycle, the spectacular middle section enthrals audiences with its colour and intensity. The diverse style of the chapters supports the dual purpose of the work; both to create an entertaining and engaging artwork and to convey the important environmental message. Roland asserts, “We needed to create impact through scale and movement around the space and harnessing the immersive magic of the venue was important. We needed to tick both boxes.”
Creating FORSAKEN was quite the technical challenge. Visualisation was achieved using a combination of Unreal Engine and internal tools which allowed the team to scrub and pan around the 360° environment on a desktop. On the wider challenge, Cinesite VFX Supervisor Andy McNamara surmises, “I don’t think too many people have attempted a full 3-D 8K rendition, certainly not in Europe’s largest digital exhibition space. One of the biggest challenges we faced was how to render in a timely way this expanded 360° view. We really went for it, pushing ourselves and what was possible, ultimately creating 8 minutes of content, at 50 frames per second across the 5-wall canvas.”
Audience reactions to the work have been overwhelmingly positive, with London’s Evening Standard calling it, “aesthetically gorgeous.”
Andy says, “FORSAKEN really has a wow factor. Hearing audible gasps from people within the space, seeing them taking out their phones and getting excited when the huge jellyfish descends in the second act, is very satisfying.” Roland agrees. “It appeals to families, to people of all ages. But what works particularly well is that there are no barriers to entry. It is free to enter and people can leave at any point, so they can watch the work, enjoy the experience and take in the underlying message, then they are free to make their own judgement and go on their way. That is a very open, democratising way of presenting art.”
FRAMELESS is showing at Outernet London as of January 2024. For screening times check Outernet’s website.
Directed by Roland Lane
Produced by Frameless
Animated by Cinesite
Supported by Greenpeace & Arts Council England
Sound Design by Gareth Fry
Motion Design by Jonny.TV