When initially asked to create a short for Adult Swim on the theme of “patterns”, the first thought that popped into London-based animator Milo Targett’s head was other people’s faces: “I was thinking about how face recognition software might see a human face as just a series of disgusting fleshy patterns it had to identify with no emotional connection to the pattern,” he tells It’s Nice That. This spark soon morphed into a tale on the distractions patterns can cause, especially while chatting away to someone.
In turn, Milo’s latest short became more about “noticing something that’s been hiding in plain slight,” he tells us, “and then being incapable of unseeing it.” Patterns definitely have this affect, like when “floaters” appear in your eyes if tired, or the certain stripes of someone’s jumper. But to build a narrative around this concept, Milo – who is a master at creating characters – wrote a storyline of a man who, following “a botched attempt at laser eye surgery”, can’t stop noticing “repulsive microscopic patterns” on those he comes into contact with.
Creating his character, described by Milo as “lumpy” and “muscular”, it was the body shape and expressions of his cast which was a particular challenge for the animator. “The weird lumpy character designs took a while to work out,” he explains, “and once I started animating, their limbs didn’t bend in convenient places.”
To build upon the warped reality his central character sees, Milo also faced the challenge of “creating distinct close up shots” to be seen from his perspective. To tackle this, the animator “did things like splitting the RGB around the edges of the frame and defocusing objects to suggest his enhancing, or deteriorating, vision.” This approach, coupled with “excellent sound design from Sounds Like These,” creates a unique landscape throughout the short, in particular “an otherworldly soundscape during the zooms.” The oddness of the short is also amplified by Milo’s unique use of texture, where close-ups were inspired by a mix of references, from electron microscope images of cells but also Ren and Stimpy. Wanting his approach “to have the same over-the-top density and texture,” this process also took up a lot of the animator’s time, often having to go through and add ink texture by hand.
Extending this reality in further areas of Milo’s animation direction, viewers will experience a weirdly distorting sense of perspective throughout the short. One scene, where the central character is bouncing uncontrollably down the street, represents the animator’s want to “feel the main character’s perception of the world distorting from his newfound insight,” Milo tells us. This approach can also be seen in the purposeful “focal length” of each short “to help tell the story too,” he continues. “The close-ups look as though they are seen through a voyeuristic telephoto lens, everything is zoomed in and flat. Whilst the real world reacts to this by becoming more distorted and wide, as seen through a fish eye lens. I ended up actually bending the whole scene around him to add to this effect.”
Now released to the world and also featured in Vimeo’s coveted Staff Picks, Milo hopes viewers “take a good long look at someone they love and really check out all their pores and hairs really close,” he concludes. “If you’re lucky you might find something really cool there.”
GalleryMilo Targett: Body Patterns
Milo Targett: Body Patterns
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.