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Client: Self Initiated

Year: 2023

Flora is a short film that tells the story of nature’s resilience and regeneration. The film is a celebration of the beauty and power of the natural world, and aims to inspire hope and positivity through an abstract yet captivating message. The film begins in a desolate and colorless desert. The once-thriving ecosystem has been reduced to a barren wasteland, devoid of life and vitality. As the film progresses, we see the first signs of life emerging from the parched earth in a literal explosion of life and color. Flowers unfurl and tiny sprouts erupt from the dry soil, reaching up towards the sun. As more and more plants take root, the desert begins to transform before our eyes. The once-barren landscape is now teeming with life. The camera pulls out to reveal a breathtaking vista of rolling hills and verdant valleys where desert wastelands once stood. Through its stunning visuals and evocative soundtrack, Flora reminds us of the incredible power of nature to overcome adversity and thrive in even the harshest environments.


I was inspired to create a short film that would push the boundaries of what I could do in 3D. Flowers blooming has always been the ‘holy grail’ of learning Houdini to me and it was something I wanted to master. To achieve this, I decided to include a lot of flowers in my film. I thought it would be interesting to start with the first few shots being devoid of color and feeling barren and empty. Then, as the flowers explosively reclaimed the desert, more and more color would be introduced in each shot until finally the wasteland was completely reclaimed by nature and in full color. My goal was to create everything from scratch inside of Houdini and use only that software from start to finish (other than compositing). I tried to use as many aspects of Houdini as possible, including liquid simulations, smoke sims, particle sims, cloth sims, heightfields, RBD destruction and debris sims as well as lots of procedural modeling and animation. I am extremely pleased with the final result and feel like my skills in Houdini have taken a great leap forward.


I created storyboards for my film with the goal of making every shot feel connected through fluid motion and nice transitions. Although the narrative is very abstract, I didn’t want this to feel like a random collection of experimental shots. Each shot was designed specifically for this film, and I wanted that to be apparent. Since these boards were only intended for my eyes and not a client, I didn’t spend extra time making them look nice. Although rudimentary, these drawings along with a short hand-written description of what’s happening in the shot served as a clear guide. This allowed me to open up Houdini and execute each shot without having to waste time figuring out what I wanted to make. Above are a few of the storyboard thumbnails next to the final shot.

Tone & Narrative

Although this piece was intended to be abstract and experimental, I wanted to create the feeling of a loose narrative with a beginning, middle and end. I came up with the idea of nature reclaiming a desert wasteland and designed and modeled three distinct and barren environments. I wanted them to feel lonely, sad and dark. To achieve this, I removed all of the color and lit the scenes with high contrast studio lights instead of sunlight to make them feel even more moody and unnatural. Over the course of the film, the studio lighting is gradually replaced with bright sunlight and cheerful colors. The last three shots of the film return to the desert environments to show that they have been fully reclaimed by nature.

Design & Animation: Ian Frederick

Music & Sound Design: Echoic Audi

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