A friend shared a really cool story idea with me about ginseng roots that come to life at night and play tricks on the sleeping animals in the forest. I was encouraged to make an animated piece about it, and found an opportunity to do so recently. Initially I wanted to make a short film detailing the adventures of three root characters during one night of mischief, they would prank a bunch of animals in silly ways, and end up getting caught as they go to sleep during sunrise when the other animals realize what they had done. The idea was cut down to two characters in a more “web series” format, with one quick prank per short.
Here are some initial concepts for what the character should look like along with the thumbnails I used to plan the story. The scene would open with a background shot of the sun setting over the treeline of the forest, the camera would pan down the tree line to where the plant guys are sleeping in the soil. After waking up they would run across the street into the dark forest and begin a montage of animal pranks including spraying silly string on a deer’s antlers, throwing hummingbirds at a board like darts, spraying graffiti over a skunk’s home, and passing chewing gum down a line and putting it in a venus fly trap. The final prank would be the escalation that goes too far, the scene would show a family of sleeping birds, then cut to one of the root characters lighting a match and lowering a welder’s mask in a menacing way as if he is about to burn the birds. One of the other root characters would place his hand on his shoulder, or arm and shake his head in an effort to say “hey man this is too far..” The joke didn’t read as well as I wanted it too and the overall tone seemed to violent or evil so it was eventually changed quite a bit in the final version. The end of the short would have been the characters, still in the tree, noticing the sun rise and back tracking to their sleeping spot. This would be followed by the sleeping animals waking up seeing the aftermath of all the mischief and the plant characters being arrested by a bear in a policeman’s costume. Below is a rough animatic of the first short.
The first short feels more like a test and slightly incomplete without the context of the rest of the story. The silly string deer prank was one of the first I thought of and I knew I had to include it somehow. Here is the final: