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“Goodnight, Sweet Pak Man” By Chris Weller

Animator Chris Weller has brought the concepts of Pac-Man up-to-date in this clever reinvention of the “Pakkuman” mythos…

Here’s what Chris told us of about the production of this short:

I am a Los Angeles based independent animator (I used to work with Jerry Beck at the small animation house RubberBug), and this is my newest short, Goodnight, Sweet Pak-Man – a stylized, (unauthorized) animated parody of the classic 8-bit video game we all know and love.

For the last 2 years I have been putting this together in what little spare time I have between paid jobs (I worked previously on Season 3 of HBO’s ‘The Life and Times of Tim’ and have animated dozens of web videos) and it is finally ready to share.

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!