The Quest for Net Zero

Completed 2022
2D Character Animated Trailer
Flatpack Creative
Fend off the fiendish fossil fuel dinosaurs in an epic journey towards net zero!

With all visuals designed entirely from scratch, The Quest for Net Zero trailer proved to be a fantastically fun project to be involved with. Produced as part of a tender for government net zero target funding, I first had to come up with the concept for an interactive net zero game for kids. Having fossil-fueled evil robot dinosaurs as the antagonists seemed like the only sensible choice – and a few design iterations later we had a broad concept mapped out with just enough material to make a concept trailer out of. 

This short trailer teases an epic adventure; one where the player has to fight through industrial wastelands, defeating fossil-fueled dinosaurs as they go, all in the name of reaching the idyllic end-goal of a net zero society.

Behind the Scenes

Coming in at just over 30 seconds, this wasn’t a long video – but it was a complex one that needed a very high level of polish for it to hold up well. From the illustration design, to the character animation, to how the smoke would spit out of the countless industrial smoke stacks – I wanted to give the sense that this was an immersive world with plenty to offer players who might eventually step into it. 

Animating a Dinosaur

Character animation is such a rewarding practice – it’s one of those instances where the magic of animation really makes itself known; where the illusion of life and physics are just impossible to draw your eyes away from. 

After Effects isn’t necessarily the best tool for character animation – there are dedicated programs like Toon Boom Harmony and Moho – but there have been some fantastic character animation plugins developed for After Effects that really increase its effectiveness. 

In this instance, I used Duik Bassel (now known as Duik Ángela it would seem). This allowed me to build a custom 2D rig for my dinosaur characters – and then I was able to just use standard keyframe animation to breathe life into it. Building the rig is typically the hardest and most fiddly bit – once that’s out the way the actual animating is just a case of trial and error until you get something lifelike – sometimes standing in front of the mirror and doing the action yourself is super helpful (you just need a slight stretch of imagination to see yourself as a dinosaur!)

Building the World

It wasn’t just the dinosaur characters who had to have life breathed into them. The industrial wasteland and smokestacks surrounding them were as much the antagonists as the dinosaurs themselves, and so I thought it would be fun to personify the smokestacks somewhat and have them violently belch out smoke.

The smoke was created using Trapcode Particular – an incredibly power tool who’s capability I’ve still only scratched the surface of. With a bit of clever timing and tweaking of the particles’ physics properties, I managed to get a thick and toxic looking cartoon smoke shoot out of those nasty looking polluting towers. 

End Card Title Design

Every trailer needs a good title design – and The Quest for Net Zero was no different. Borrowing elements from the world of arcade games, it aims to be eye-catchingly colourful and shows all elements in a single image; the idyllic Net Zero City at the top, the dino-guarded industrial wasteland in the middle, and the Net Zero Heroes embarking on their journey in the foreground – all tied together with the title treatment.

The Quest for Net Zero

2D Character Animated Trailer

The Southern Uplands Partnership

This trailer for The Quest for Net Zero was created for the Southern Uplands Partnership as part of their efforts to transition the economy and society of the Scottish Borders region towards a sustainable net zero future – feel free to have a scroll through their website by clicking their logo to the right: