Rick and Morty
When Adult Swim tapped us to submit concepts for IDs promoting Rick and Morty’s fifth season, we leapt. The client brief was simple: emphasize the main cast and season 5, while avoiding dialogue, nudity and gore. That’s it; no stylistic restraints at all. Primal Screen showed the network a number of ideas, from which they chose two very different approaches: one with a handmade look and another boasting a CGI sheen.
For the first ID, salaciously titled, “Rick’s Balls,” the heads of Rick, Morty and the rest of their family slam into each other with gut-wrenching brutality. Who could be responsible for this barbarity? Only some nebbishy alien, middle manager with grotesque desk toys.
The ID’s garish, airbrushed look results from a collaboration across Primal Screen’s design and 2D animation departments. Following design exploration and storyboarding, characters and props were animated in Toon Boom using flat colors. The team broke all the different gradients into individual pieces which they rendered separately for effects animation in the compositing stage. That meant separate renders for eyes, tongue, hair and so on. Designers then imported all these individual parts into After Effects, creating a separate effects pass for each color on each element. At last, all shots were rendered in After Effects. Premiere Pro provided the final composite.
We had fun contrasting the close-up horror (combining the metal clack of the balls with bone crunching human collisions) against the monotonous office sounds in the alien’s cubicle.
The second ID, “Mount Rickmore,” lingers over a shrine to some of Rick and Morty’s notorious Season 5 adventures. The camera sweeps past fierce battles and unforgivable cloning experiments, finally settling on the whole lovely, atrocious spectacle.
Unlike Rick’s Balls, which relies on movement, Mt. Rickmore is a colorful, highly detailed still-life. Our team built the full CG models using Cinema 4D and Maya, with Redshift proxies standing in for high-poly objects. As animators constructed the sculpture, they used bright colors and lighting to compose the vivid, eye-popping scenes. The elements were rendered in Cinema 4D/Redshift and composited in After Effects. Here we underscored the monumental visuals with sound that’s both epic and synthetically detached.
At the request of Adult Swim, the two IDs have little in common aesthetically. But together they communicate a great deal about the sweeping range of Rick and Morty’s odd and abominable universe.