FX Networks
Archer Season 11: Shoot 'Em Up
Pixel Art / Animation / Compositing / 3D
A side by side comparison of the unused version 1, and version 2 which appeared in the episode.

Archer is a critically acclaimed and award winning animated comedy on FXX set in the world of international espionage. In this scene, an associate of Archer is playing a shoot 'em up arcade game. Archer is mightily impressed at both the graphics and how well she's mastered the game.

Version 1 - Isometric Shooter

I was tasked to create an animated homage of a popular isometric arcade shooter from the early 1980s. While I would animate it using After Effects, I set about creating it as authentically as possible so that it looked like a real game.

I created all the artwork and frame-by-frame animation using the pixel art application Aseprite, a tool commonly used in the production of retro 2D pixel games. The background elements conformed to an isometric tile grid which allowed the level to be built in a precise and modular way – similar to how actual video games are made, but this time in After Effects.

Once I had the level built and animated, I applied some VFX including a custom made CRT filter to give it a cool retro look. I discuss my CRT filter in more detail here.

Some sprites I drew for the isometric shooter, including tile based elements for modular level creation

Version 2 - Vector Shooter

After careful consideration from the producers, the isometric third person design was canned in favor of a more dynamic first person shooter. I was instructed to animate something based on a popular 1980 3D vector-based tank game, but instead of roaming the ground, our version would be in space and allow the player to move in three dimensions.

I created a simple 3D environent in Cinema 4D, and populated it with polygon shapes which I exploded at the appropriate time. I rendered everything out as separate passes and composited it in After Effects. I had a lot less time to create this version, but the simplicity of the style was well in my favor and it came together quite quickly.

A section of the new sequence in split-screen to show various stages of development. Top left: Cinema 4D wireframe. Top Right: Cinema 4D render. Bottom Left: Initial comp pass. Bottom right: CRT effect added.
Producer: Floyd County Productions