Behind the scenes on Viva Calaca!!

Ritxi Ostáriz's Viva Calaca!! is a riotously charming animated short film based around the Mexican El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. We sat down with Ostáriz to find out how what inspired the piece and how it was created.

"I am a very big fan of how Tim Burton talks about death," he says "but with happiness and lots of colour and movement. It is the same with the Day of the Dead and I love that irony."

Viva Calaca!! is the second of three personal pieces by Ostáriz. The first was based on the circus and released two years ago, and Ostáriz is working on the third, which will be based around a cabaret.

Ostáriz draws much of his inspiration from the music behind his pieces.

"The first step on my work is always to find good music. [Viva Calaca!!'s music] is from the American goth artist Voltaire, whose music and lyrics were perfect for this project. I edited the audio as I wanted and then listened to it about a million times to get the rhythm and write a script and a storyboard.

"This is probably the most important step for me, as that rhythm is the secret of the piece – and perfect synchronization makes it look cooler. Then I created the Mexican village, designing a square where all the action was going to happen. Finally, I had to design the characters and make them dance."

Designing the characters required a lot of research by Ostáriz. He watched many films about the festival, and pored over thousands of photos from El Día de los Muertos festivals. However, as Viva Calaca!! was a personal project, Ostáriz had the time and flexibility to get the look perfectly right.

"I did not have a client telling me to change this or that dozens of times," says Ostáriz, "so as soon as the village was created and the characters designed, they took the control over themselves and allowed me to create the piece so much easier. I could say that my little skulls helped me a lot to make the video."

Ostáriz initially sketched the characters and buildings in pencil, then created the digitally in Illustrator. Textures, light and shadows were added in Photoshop, and the piece was animated in After Effects.

Ritxi Ostáriz is a 25-year-old art director and designer working in Madrid, Spain. His studio iikki creates cd artwork for many musicians and producers, and motion graphics, spots and cartoons for TV. His clients stretch from the US to Norway, and from Israel to Iceland.

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